Tech Company Considers Offshoring, Decides on Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/10/04

Tech Company Considers Offshoring, Decides on Savannah

When Aelera Corporation announced the creation of at least a hundred new high-tech jobs in Savannah, it wasn't the usual key to the city the mayor presented. To the laughter of the assembled business and government representatives at the First City Club, he handed company founder Dustin Crane a scroll containing a 128-bit PGP encryption key, the kind used to unlock encrypted messages sent over the internet.

The company chose Savannah after literally traveling the world researching offshoring jobs to places like India. "We have gone through a journey as a company," said Crane.

Savanna management consultant David Harper with the Advisory Alliance, LLC, had this to say: "When people talk about offshoring, there shouldn't be that sort of knee-jerk reaction of saying, 'Well, labor's cheaper here, India or elsewhere, therefore we should go there.'"

Aelera's Chuck Stallworth, in town to begin recruiting local IT professionals, agrees. "From Aelera's perspective, it was truly a business decision," he said. "Because it came down to us evaluating the cost of taking it offshore. When you add in the 12-hour time difference in India, when you add in the cultural differences, the way we do business, the way they do business, the boom times, the turnover, you effectively end up to our study as well as other industry studies, you end up with about a 20 percent savings.

"And when we were looking at that we said, 'Well, maybe we can do that here.'"

Though they're just moving in to a temporary facility at Georgia Tech's Savannah campus, they've already started interviewing local talent.

"We ended up choosing Savannah because Savannah has, to begin with, five major universities here. Most people don't understand that...all turning out IT people," Stallworth said. "You also have an established industry base here...that already [has] IT folks. So we can draw the people with two, three, four, five years experience out of that."

For management consultant Harper, that local talent base is key to attracting new business.

Aelera plans to create 100 to 125 computer programming jobs in Savannah, with more possibly down the road. Interested parties should apply online.

"I am convinced you've got students coming out of local universities who would love to stay in, you know, Savannah," he said. "So it's not that we don't have that talent base here. But what we would like to see is more companies coming here to offer jobs to those students."

Local technology professionals are hoping this is just the first in a series of new 21st-century jobs for our historic city.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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