Talent Shortage: High Tech Start Up Leaves Ann Arbor

Important Nathan Bomey article on It’s entitled “University of Michigan microcontroller startup leaving Michigan for Texas”. The reason: not enough talent here. That’s right, not enough talent in our supposedly high tech mecca Ann Arbor. As Bomey writes: The firm, Ambiq Micro, determined that the Austin region offered the best chance of landing the talent to advance its integrated circuitry technology, which improves energy efficiency in wireless electronic applications.

Conventional wisdom is that this can’t happen. Create a climate for entrepreneurs, they will create jobs here and job seekers will concentrate here, rather than leave. Think again! Increasingly in a knowledge-based economy, knowledge-based employers go to where the talent is. Austin has more concentrated talent than Ann Arbor. End of story for Ambiq Micro.

The most prosperous states/regions  today and tomorrow will be those with the greatest concentrations of talent. Ann Arbor isn’t one of those places. That is why I wrote in a previous post:  Yes, Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan – a world class research university – which is a terrific asset. But to leverage the asset there has to be a large pool of talent that both will attract knowledge-based enterprises and commercialize the ideas coming out of the university. More broadly it is why Andrew Basile wrote me that his law firm may have to relocate out of Michigan because the talent pool in metro Detroit is not deep enough.

The lesson we need to learn is if you care about the Michigan economy you had better care about the location decisions of mobile talent. And that mobile talent increasingly is concentrating in big metros with vibrant/high density central cities. No vibrant/high density central cities, no prosperous Michigan. It is the straight forward! 

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