Detroit vs. Silicon Valley – What Gives Our City the Tech Edge


| 3 min read

wide view of Detroit with sky scrapers in the background.
For almost a century, Detroit has been known as the “Motor City,” but the birthplace of the automobile has transformed itself into a true technology hub. A recent study by Forbes Magazine found that high-tech careers in Detroit have grown 26 percent since 2015 and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, one of the largest IT employers in the Detroit region, is part of that boom. What is it about Detroit that is drawing talent away from tech magnets in places like Silicon Valley? Paul Horalek, IT Director, Information Management and Provider Systems at Blue Cross, shares his insight: The Initial Spark There have been a few factors behind the city’s growth as a tech power player. Most notably: economics and talent availability. “In 2005 and 2006, companies began to notice the promising future of Detroit’s technology industry,” says Horalek. This, mixed with low barriers of entry, made the city a no-brainer for many tech companies looking to establish, or re-establish, their roots. “Detroit is an attractive market for starting a business affordably and hiring qualified talent,” says Horalek. “It allows companies to take advantage of lower costs of living and have access to a strong talent base that’s truly invested in their community.” The Detroit Difference Detroit has opportunities for professionals of all levels who want to create a career in IT. “People have the chance to work for innovative IT employers like Blue Cross, who is dedicated to investing in technology,” says Horalek. “In addition, there are a growing number of exciting start-ups in the city that are making that same commitment.” The increased presence of IT businesses in the city has resulted in competition for qualified employees. “Information Technology is an integral part of any business, and with that comes a demand for outstanding talent,” says Horalek. “The ability to have a career in an industry like Information Technology is a game-changer.” Detroit’s inherent cultural diversity is another reason the city is such a great place to launch a career in IT. “People of numerous cultures call Detroit home,” says Horalek. “That’s created a rich environment with a variety of thoughts and ideas that propel creativity and innovation.” The Impact of Tech on Detroit With internship programs and community outreach, the boom in IT has resulted in a stronger connection between companies like Blue Cross and the city of Detroit. “We have the opportunity to bring in interns from local colleges and universities to get to know Blue Cross and what a career in IT entails,” says Horalek. “Blue Cross employees are able to impact the community, grow local talent and keep Blue Cross top-of-mind for those looking for a career opportunity.” Detroit’s IT growth has also had an indirect effect on the vibrancy of Detroit. “Working in downtown Detroit, I’ve seen first-hand how busy this part of the city has gotten,” says Horalek. “There are more restaurants and entertainment venues even with the cost of living staying affordable, unlike places like Silicon Valley. I’m sure that with the increased presence of businesses in the city, Detroit will continue to grow and thrive.” For more information on a career in Blue Cross IT, visit, or one of the following blogs:
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association