Every once in awhile, the company I work for appears in the local news. A little background on the local news… a few years ago, we had an actual printed newspaper, and a few years prior to that, they’d spent a great deal of money updating the printing presses to do color in a more compact form factor.
So it came as a surprise when the people who owned the paper decided Ann Arbor would be a great place to try a new experiment: they decided we’d be the first community to have a completely on-line newspaper since we’re so cyber. They closed the paper, and now we have AnnArbor.com. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the same. The stories aren’t as well-written—and some feel the prior paper didn’t exactly have qualiy reporting—and often aren’t written by actual journalists. It’s meant to be a community-oriented paper, which means community members often write for it. There’s something to be said for having a journalism degree.
You can also comment on articles, too, which begs the question of how useful comments are. The same people post over and over again to the point where you can predict what they’re going to say based on the long-term pet peeve they’re passively agressively tending to, and the unfortunate part is it becomes part of the dialog surrounding the article, sometimes to the point of obscuring the article.
We’ve been in the paper a few times, and I’m glad to see Ann Arbor is doing well by the company to extend some tax breaks. We’ve been in the area for over 10 years now and hire people to stay here in Michigan. We pay well, we have a great environment and we get to work on cool things. In addition to working here, we also live and spend our money here, which has a multiplier effect. Tax breaks in this case are a pretty good investment.
I take issue when people speak without any firsthand knowledge. I can say that economics did in fact put us in a more conservative posture after the financial meltdown in 2008, but we’re in a good position to do more local hiring again finally. I’ve also been part of the interview process for nearly everyone we’ve hired in Ann Arbor in the last six years, so I’ve seen the kind of candidates we get. We’re not in Silicon Valley, so it’s hard to attract people to Michigan. And it’s hard to keep young graduates in the state, although we’re trying. The other thing to consider is that computer programmers are not interchangeable cogs. Just because there are people looking for work in Michigan who have programming experience doesn’t mean they’ll be the best match in terms of skills at our company. We work in a niche market, and we do it well. It’s why we’re good. We happen to look for a niche skillset, although if you’re a really good programmer, it’ll probably work out.
It’s only a comment on an article that not many very people care about, but it’s unfortunate when a company that does well by its community is still attacked, and the person attacking it isn’t held accountable for his or her assertions.
Have you created any jobs today?