GM hiring 1000 after opening of Chandler tech center – Arizona Republic

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014

A mural-size photo of a classic Pontiac Firebird is among many images from the past that adorn the walls of the new General Motors “innovation center” in Chandler, but the coders and engineers who fill its cubicles are more-intently focused on the automaker’s future.

The Detroit-based company on Friday formally announced the opening of its fourth national IT center, which will employ 1,000 workers in the southeast Valley as the U.S. economy continues a shift toward knowledge-based jobs in science and engineering.

GM has hired 500 workers for the facility near Frye Road and Ellis Street in the heart of Chandler’s Price Road Employment Corridor, also home to Intel Corp., Microchip Technology Inc. and Orbital Sciences Corp.

GM plans to add 500 more employees over the next three years, many of whom will be drawn from nearby Arizona State University and other colleges across the region. About one-quarter of the workers at GM’s Arizona Innovation Center were hired as recent college graduates.

Working hand-in-hand with other new GM IT centers in Warren, Mich.; Roswell, Ga. and Austin, the developers are busy designing software applications to boost internal productivity and improve customer service at manufacturing plants and dealerships across the globe.

Recent Duke University graduate Matthew Nehls, for example, was sent to Arizona to work on the internal program “Voice of the Consumer” that compiles data from customer-satisfaction surveys to resolve issues and measure trends.

Another new application in the pilot phase, “ShopClickDrive,” allows consumers to find incentives, estimate trade-in value and monthly payments and even apply for credit, all online.

GM’s first Arizona IT employees were hired in March 2013 and worked from a temporary office in Phoenix until the Chandler building was ready in June.

State and local governments promised GM millions of dollars in incentives for bringing jobs to metro Phoenix. GM received a $1.3 million grant from the Arizona Competes fund, and was set to receive tax credits worth as much as $14,000 per job created.

Landing another high-tech employer is expected to help the Valley’s efforts to recruit and develop the coveted, in-demand force of knowledge workers, Greater Phoenix Economic Council President Barry Broome said in an interview with The Republic.

Because they are in high demand, technology employees often can call their own shots, Broome said. When considering whether to take a job in an area, they want to know if there are options and broader opportunities within the market.

“The whole U.S. economy is moving to knowledge workers,” Broome said. “Industries that don’t produce knowledge are offshoring and shrinking. In our market, some of the big opportunities are in software development, web design and web development.”

ASU’s presence in the southeast Valley was a big factor in GM’s decision to open here, Chief Information Officer Randy Mott told The Republic.

The company has hired 44 ASU graduates so far, which, for those interested in the oft-heated cross-state college rivalry, is more than from the University of Arizona, Mott confirmed.

GM executives also liked the quality of life their employees will find in the southeast Valley, a crucial element in attracting top talent, Mott said.

The automaker previously had outsourced almost all of its IT operations but more recently opted to bring that work in-house. The pivot on IT is one piece of a massive restructuring GM has undergone since filing for bankruptcy and being rescued by the federal government in 2009.

Developers at the four national IT centers collaborate on a daily basis, a point driven home by the building’s numerous video-conference rooms, each named after an Arizona town.

A team of developers on Friday huddled in the “Buckeye” room to coordinate their work with other employees in Austin as the teams discussed the status of projects and any challenges they encountered.

About half of the building’s walls are designated as “idea walls” where workers can scribble notes on erasable paint.

As of Friday, more than 150 job listings, including IT project manager and Java software developer, were posted online at The company declined to disclose salary ranges for the IT employees.

Other major job announcements in the Valley recently have included State Farm’s regional headquarters under construction in Tempe, where the company in 2013 announced it would move most of its 2,100 Valley employees while hiring 900 more.

In partnership with tech giant Apple, sapphire crystal manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies has brought hundreds of jobs to southeast Mesa this year, though the company has declined to comment on exactly how many.


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