Inside The Northland’s IT Industry

Yes, the “It” industry in the Northland right now happens to actually be IT.

A quick glance around northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin reveals a plethora of IT businesses and think tanks, all of them with respected reputations that span far beyond this region. They each have their own niche, but they all share one thing in common: a love for this area and the unique advantages it has to offer those in the Information & Technology field.

Lake Superior has become a magnet for everything from long-established computing companies to dazzling startups and there are many reasons why. There’s the inescapably beautiful scenery, of course. And that’s not to mention the fact that cooler temps year around drastically reduce the cost of data storage.

Sweetening the deal even more is close proximity to universities and technical colleges. The University of Minnesota-Duluth, The College of St. Scholastica, Lake Superior College, The University of Wisconsin-Superior, and more schools supply a continuous stream of fresh IT talent to the local employment pool.

And then there’s the overall lower cost of operating as an IT firm in this neck of the woods.

“Big City Too Pricey? Find your software solution in Duluth,” suggests the billboard currently up along Highway 61 belonging to Saturn Systems. The Duluth-based custom software development company is first to point out the lower costs of resources and infrastructure that first drew them to their current location.

“Hackers are everywhere but there’s an extra risk when sending proprietary information and critical data overseas,” Saturn Systems’ website explains. “With Saturn Systems, your data and intellectual property stay within U.S. borders, protected by American law and our ultra-secure network.”

And Saturn Systems is not the only world-class IT firm that’s recognized the advantages of “Offshoring to the North Shore,” as they put it on their website.

Duluth’s Aimcleara marketing agency dominant in audience targeting and customer acquisition, is a five-time winner of the prestigious Inc. 500/5000 List. Aimclear has also been recognized as a Top 100 Workplace by Minnesota Business Magazine. The company takes office culture seriously and has served clients ranging from Intel, Amazon, and eBay to Airbnb, Travelocity, and Eurail.

Saturn Systems and Aimclear are in good company. Other tech savvy companies include Compudyne, Citon Computer Corp, and CW Technology. Each of these organizations have their own technological specialties, whether cyber security, computer solutions, or digital design — and all have been recognized with awards of their own.

Taken together, it’s clear that the Northland is an IT hotspot. Outside firms are eyeing the area on a continuous basis, hoping to relocate.

That’s good news for the Northland in terms of employment. Looking at the Duluth metropolitan statistical area (which includes St. Louis County and Carlton County in Minnesota, as well as Douglas County in Wisconsin), the IT industry is growing. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) the IT sector grew by 38% between 2011 and 2016. As of last year, this region was home to 36 firms employing a total of 614 individuals pulling down an average annual wage of $66,668.00.

So what occupations are we talking about, specifically? Software developers, computer systems analysts and managers, and support specialists, for a start. Computer programmers and network administrators are a few more major employment groups that can expect to make anywhere between $33.43 and $46.65 per hour.

The outlook for Northland IT in the near future is even more encouraging.

Recently, DEED compiled a list of the 25 top jobs for Millennials in Minnesota based on projected job growth, average annual wages, and millennial share of workers. Of the top five, three were directly related to IT: Applications Software Developers, Computer Systems Analysts, and Systems Software Developers. A fourth, Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists, can be considered IT-related in many cases, as well.

The main message? If you’re an IT firm, the time to relocate to the Northland is now. And if you’re a talented North By Choicer looking to become employed in an IT capacity — wise choice! Start by checking out the IT related jobs live on our site.

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