Commentary
5/9/2005
11:01 AM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
Commentary

Middle America And H-1Bs

With high-tech executives predicting a domestic IT labor shortage and workers' groups adamantly opposing the use of offshore workers and H-1B immigrants, middle America is emerging as, well, middle ground in the debate.



With high-tech executives predicting a domestic IT labor shortage and workers' groups adamantly opposing the use of offshore workers and H-1B immigrants, middle America is emerging as, well, middle ground in the debate.Companies that want to cut costs by moving work out of big cities like Boston and San Francisco but at the same time are looking to avoid the uncertainty-and negative publicity-of offshoring are turning to places like Jonesboro, Ark., Greenville, N.C., and Oklahoma City. Such locations, more and more execs are finding, offer a highly educated workforce at a reasonable cost.

Kathy White, former CIO at Cardinal Health, has built a company around the idea of farming out IT work to the farmbelt. "If we can outsource to India, then we can outsource to Arkansas," White recently told me.

Her company, Rural Sourcing Inc., has already landed some big customers, including Cardinal, toymaker Mattel, and a major telecom. Rural Sourcing operates from Jonesboro and Greenville, among other places.

Other vendors are also launching IT services centers in smaller cities. Ciber Inc. has opened in Tampa, Fla., and Oklahoma City through its Cibersites program, designed to complement the company's offshore locations with homegrown offerings.

Middle America's emergence as an option for IT outsourcing won't put an end to offshoring. But it will provide a solid alternative for CIOs who want to keep work close to home and jobs for IT pros-especially those willing to relocate. All in all, it's a positive trend and yet another example of how the free market usually finds a way to match supply with demand.

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