Bringing information technology jobs back to the United States, and planting them in the four-county area of Northwest Ohio, is the promise of Ruralogic, a start-up company based in Bryan.
Joe Burmester, chief executive officer, discussed his plans for the new company during a speech before the Bryan Rotary Club on Friday, June 25.
Burmester said Ruralogic could begin training workers by the end of the summer, could be providing services to customers by the end of 2010, and in five years, bring 500 jobs to offices in Bryan, Archbold, Napoleon, and possibly Defiance.
While some people may be skeptical of the possibility of 500 new IT jobs in five years, he said, “If we fall short and only hire 400, will you be happy?”
He cautioned that the whole deal is contingent upon state approval of grant funding, which he anticipates will be approved by the end of July.
To save money, many U.S. businesses have gone overseas, to countries like India, for IT services.
But what those businesses discovered were problems and hidden costs. While foreign IT services are less expensive, there are issues such as the time difference, the cost of telecommunications, travel to India for negotiations, and cultural and language differences.
Burmester said four years ago, Ford Motor Company studied its outsourcing programs, and found while the contract cost for IT services were $18 to $19 per hour, when all the other issues were factored in, the real cost was about $53.
Plus, he said Indian IT workers, who are good at what they do, are demanding, and getting 15% raises, driving up costs.
In Northwest Ohio, Burmester said unemployment is above the national average, and when under-employment, such as people working part-time who want full-time work, is considered, as much as a third of the workforce is either unemployed or under-employed.
Plus, in rural areas, there’s little opportunity to find new jobs. A displaced worker doesn’t want to sell his home at a loss, and he may wish to stay in his community.
Workers in Northwest Ohio have an awesome work ethic, he said.
“They know how to work, they like to work, and they take pride in their work.”
Burmester said local governments are looking for ways to help create jobs, and are willing to help new companies get started.
Plus, the four-county area has an added advantage: Northwest State Community College. Ruralogic plans to work with NSCC to provide technical training to its workforce.
Rural communities have another advantage: a lower cost of doing business. He said the cost structure of doing business in Cleveland would be 4 1/2 times more than in Bryan.
Burmester told the Bryan Rotary Club that Ruralogic had been approached by Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania– but also by the countries of Abu Dhabi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Burmester said an opportunity to operate a call center, which could employ as many as 500 workers, surfaced.
“We don’t know if that will happen or not,” he said.
If it does, the calls would be outbound, customer satisfaction surveys. Employees could work part-time while undergoing training for other Ruralogic jobs.
Burmester said the company is finishing its arrangements with the State of Ohio, and is now developing training programs.
Burmester said, “The time has come to take advantage of the marketplace.”
He said businesses spend $85 billion a year getting IT services from overseas.
“If we can capture 10% of that, we’ll be pretty happy.”