Stephen McGee for The New York Times
After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1998, Brian Mulloy followed the path of many of his classmates, fleeing his home state for a job in a bustling city. But after 10 years of working in technology start-ups in San Francisco, he has returned as founder of a company in Detroit’s budding technology sector.
Mr. Mulloy is part of a group of workers that Detroit is suddenly hungry for — software developers and information technology specialists who can create applications for the next generation of connected vehicles.
“You’re going to see developers set up shop in Detroit because they’re going to follow the money,” Mr. Mulloy said, “and there will be lots of money.”
Already, the money is flowing.
General Motors, newly flush with cash after emerging from bankruptcy, is on a hiring binge, quadrupling its information technology staff and recruiting software developers to create a spate of apps for its 2014 model-year vehicles. While the hiring is taking place across the country, many of the new recruits will be working out of the Detroit area.
The Ford Motor Company plans to fill 300 positions in information technology this year, said Laura Kurtz, Ford’s manager of United States recruiting. The Chrysler Group, which declined to specify its plans, said it would hire more entry-level workers and was focused on attracting a highly skilled work force.
For Detroit, the hiring is a rare bright spot in a city teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. For the state over all, the Michigan Department of Labor projects that job growth in software developers for applications is expected to grow 23.5 percent from 2010; for software developers for systems software, 36.9 percent, the highest of any technical job classification. Michigan’s overall average for selected technical occupations is 8.5 percent growth.
The demand for in-vehicle applications is a “substantial job generator with high-end pay,” said Donald R. Grimes, an economic researcher at the University of Michigan.
Beyond the three Detroit automakers, the push for the connected car is helping support homegrown technology businesses like Mr. Mulloy’s as well.
Detroit Labs, founded two years ago to create smartphone apps, is shifting to work with automakers to build in-vehicle apps. The company has grown tenfold since 2011, to 40 people, and aims for 60 workers by the end of the year.
“If you go to the coasts, you are one of thousands,” said Paul Glomski, one of its founders. “In Detroit, you have the opportunity to make an impact. It’s for real.”
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