lobal IT and product engineering services firm MindTree Limited, based in Bangalore, India, announced in late March it would open its first major U.S. development center in Gainesville, Fla., creating 400 new jobs beginning late this summer.
"The Southeast is an untapped region for MindTree from a talent and client acquisition standpoint. Setting up our first major U.S. development center in Florida gives us a foothold into this region," said Scott Staples, president, Americas, noting the area's IT and engineering talent, quality of life and, perhaps most important, its university. MindTree will be investing nearly $3 million to renovate and repurpose an existing structure located across from the Florida Innovation Hub at UF (pictured) at Innovation Square, providing the company close access to the University of Florida's Engineering and Computer Science programs.
The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Economic Outreach worked with local and state partners including representatives from the University of Florida, Santa Fe College, the Alachua County School Board and Enterprise Florida.
The project represents a meeting of award winners: MindTree was honored for "Best Corporate Governance, India, 2012" by World Finance magazine in 2012. Three days after MindTree's announcement, the Economic Development Division of the American Planning Association on March 30 selected Innovation Square to receive the 2012 Donald E. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award.
MindTree is a member of The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), a not-for-profit industry association for the IT-BPO Sector in India. Five days previous to the project announcement, NASSCOM released a new report called "India's Tech Industry in the US." Among its findings: India-based IT and BPO firms doubled the number of jobs for locals in the U.S. in the last five years to nearly 107,000. Moreover, said NASSCOM, the companies have invested more than US$5 billion through 128 acquisitions in the U.S., and have contributed over $15 billion towards the U.S. Treasury in the past five years.
"These companies have increased their investments in the U.S. local centers by increasing the number of seats by nearly 10 times in the last five years," said the report. "The total seats are expected to grow by 50 percent in the next five years. California, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan and New York account for 50 percent of the direct employment supported by the industry."
In early April news emerged that India is in consultations with the U.S. at the World Trade Organization challenging a nearly 100-percent hike in the fee — to $4,500 — for U.S. work visas for employees of India-based IT-BPO firms.
A week before MindTree's announcement, Brazil-based aircraft manufacturer Embraer, which maintains Florida facilities in Ft. Lauderdale and in Melbourne, announced it will be adding a new R&D facility at Melbourne International Airport — the Embraer Engineering and Technology Center USA. The project will create 200 new engineering jobs with average salaries of $70,000, with at least 40 new jobs anticipated in 2012.
Embraer North America President Gary Spulak credited assistance from Enterprise Florida, Space Florida and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. He also cited the area's engineering talent.
The new center will be housed in a 67,000-sq.-ft. (6,224-sq.-m.) facility to be constructed on the site of the current Embraer Executive Jets Division Headquarters and final assembly building, which began operations in February 2011. Embraer dedicated its global Embraer Executive Jets Customer Center in December 2011, rounding out the company's $50-million investment in the Space Coast to date. The company plans to break ground on the new facility in summer 2012.