The announcement that cloud computing company Salesforce will move its regional headquarters to what’s currently known as Chase Tower has been met with both excitement and apprehension. The addition of a tech company to the Indianapolis skyline contributes to the city’s identity as forward-thinking and attractive to job seekers.
But for Indianapolis tech companies – both large and small – the development is a sign that our region can finally lay claim to an industry that has been dominated for decades by the West Coast. It’s also an opportunity for Indiana to lead the region in tech innovation, contribute the wider Midwest tech ecosystem, and retain our most talented college graduates.
Capitalizing on a Midwest Tech Hub
Calling Indianapolis the “Silicon Valley of the Midwest” isn’t just cliché; it’s inaccurate. Culturally, Indiana tech companies stand apart from their coastal analogs by building from the ground up and investing locally: with groups like venture studio High Alpha and venture capital firm Hyde Park Venture Partners’ Indianapolis office, the focus on creating a durable Midwestern tech ecosystem first is a top priority.
By placing a regional headquarters in Indianapolis, Salesforce doesn’t validate the city’s status as a tech hub; instead, the company capitalizes on it. Salesforce isn’t the first global company to choose Indianapolis as an HQ city: ReturnPath and Emarsys have established offices here as well.
Creating a Stronger Tech Framework
A strong Midwest tech ecosystem is critical, but so is building a foundation on which that ecosystem can grow. A rising tide lifts all boats, and the 2013 acquisition of ExactTarget gave Salesforce and local tech companies an early boost. By making a long-term investment in both real estate and human capital in Indianapolis, Salesforce will provide career opportunities for new and seasoned tech professionals. It also clears a path for Indiana startups and high-growth companies to develop connections beyond the Midwest and within Salesforce’s global network of strategic partners, service providers and customers.
Staunching Indiana’s Brain Drain
Despite a healthy and growing tech community, “brain drain” is still a serious issue in the state: only 49 percent of computer and information science students stay in Indiana after graduation. Salesforce’s Indiana investment offers college grads with stable, well-paying jobs in a growing industry. For everyone from software developers to sales and marketing professionals, the ability to start careers in tech without moving too far from home or navigating a high cost of living is a considerable advantage.
Salesforce Tower will house nearly 1400 employees, but the headquarters will impact more than Salesforce team members. Salesforce Tower is a win for the city, the Indianapolis tech community, and the future of tech workers in the state.