Oakland County next month will launch a new economic development initiative to support and help grow the nearly 2,000 IT/tech firms based within the county.
“When you talk about (the tech industry), you hear of Detroit, you hear of Ann Arbor,” says Irene Spanos, director of the county’s economic development and community affairs. “But more than half of the IT/tech firms in metro Detroit are based in Oakland County.”
TECH248 — part of the county’s Emerging Sectors program, which identifies and fosters development in top growth industries — will address workforce development and recruiting, connectivity to one another, and branding the region as a global IT/tech hub, three goals identified during focus groups with local firms over the last year.
“When we hosted these focus groups and (the participants) found out that there were so many other IT/tech firms here, they we’re like, ‘What? Who else is here?’” Spanos says. “So we’re going to purposefully address that and try to connect them a little more frequently.”
In addition to organizing meet-up/networking events in the county’s five main tech-driven districts (Pontiac, Rochester/Rochester Hills, Royal Oak/ Ferndale/ Pleasant Ridge, Southfield, and Novi/Farmington Hills), the initiative is also building a Twitter feed that encourages connectivity, Spanos says. “Our goal is to get all 2,000 companies and their Twitter feeds on there so everyone can keep track of what each company is doing.”
Regarding workforce recruitment, the county hopes to better connect area companies to local schools as well as develop countywide programs that encourage people to enter the tech-based workforce, Spanos says.
The first TECH248 meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 5 at Koala CoWork, 20300 Civic Center Drive in Southfield. For more information on the event or about the new initiative, visit mitech248.com.