Study: Top Tech Accelerators Bring 7K Jobs to Detroit Area

Posted on May 30, 2014

Metro Detroit’s top technology accelerators — Midtown’s TechTown, Troy’s Automation Alley, Ann Arbor SPARK and Macomb-OU Incubator — have accounted for more than 7,000 tech jobs and 225 tech companies that have resulted in $300 million in follow-oninvestment, a new study shows.

The four accelerators, part of the Business Accelerator Network of Southeast Michigan, announced the numbers in an economic impact report released this week. The report comes as Detroit continues to emerge as a growing tech hub, with national companies such as Google and Microsoft investing in the city.

“BANSEM accelerators continue to act as a catalyst for economic growth in our region,” Leslie Smith, president and CEO of TechTown Detroit, and chair of BANSEM, said in a statement. “Beyond education and encouragement, the impact data released today speaks to a clear-eyed commitment to execute — not in silos, but as a thoughtfully integrated support system.”

Automation Alley, the oldest of the accelerators, has had the biggest impact. It’s created and supported more than 4,500tech and manufacturing jobs, which have resulted in a $112.9 million follow-on investment, or money other firms have invested after Automation Alley invests.

“This is one of the great success stories coming out of the renaissance that’s taking place in Southeast Michigan today,” Ken Rogers, executive director of Automation Alley, said in a statement. “The four BANSEM accelerators have been to able accomplish something that the region has struggled with for a number of years: successful collaboration across regional boundaries. These results speak volumes about the value of working together to move the region forward economically.”

Automation Alley recently released its 2013 Technology Industry Report, which found Southeastern Michigan is home to 242,520 technology industry jobs — everything from app makers and Web coders to architects and engineers — and is among the nation’s leaders in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates. Tech jobs make up 10 percent of the tri-county area’s total employment, the report found.

Still, problems persists in filling some high-demand jobs.

Employers in information technology fields said graduates don’t have the proper skills necessary for today’s work, partly the result of the ever-evolving nature of the industry. As a result, employers are taking matters into their own hands, offering their own training programs and even reaching out to schools to tweak curriculum.

Such training programs have popped up all over downtown, with companies such as app-maker Detroit Labs, mortgage lender Quicken Loans, IT firm GalaxE. Solutions and Grand Circus all hosting seminars and classes to train new workers or give veterans a refresher. Both Google and Microsoft have announced initiatives in the past year to help fund tech businesses in Detroit.

Tech impact

A look at how many jobs, companies and investment each technology accelerator has created since it was founded.
Automation Alley (1999-2013): 34 companies, 4,646 jobs, $112.19 million
TechTown (2007-13): 85 companies, 625 jobs, $103 million
Ann Arbor SPARK (2006-13): 88 companies, 1,872 jobs, $76.9 million
Macomb-OU Incubator (2008-13): 18 companies, 82 jobs, $9.5 million.