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Outsourcing To Rural America 887

An anonymous reader writes " is running a story about Rural Sourcing, a company attempting to make outsourcing to rural America as cost effective as sending jobs to India."
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Outsourcing To Rural America

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  • by techsoldaten ( 309296 ) * on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:43PM (#10802350) Journal
    The difference between offshoring to India and insourcing to rural areas?

    Indians speak better English.

    • Why contract with South Asians when you can contract with businesses run by good old American Indians? I'm sure somebody on the reservation could help you admin your Apache server.

      • As the self proclaimed slashdot rep from oklahoma, I would like to announce that Oklahoma gladly welcomes our Rural Insourcing Overlords.

        Dell just located a 700 person call center here and plans to double it's size...... Come on over...
        • Well, gotta say, Arkansas isn't so bad. Think of the large amount of $$'s in the state. Heard of Wal-Mart? Started and still hq'ed there.

 of the largest dealers and maintainers of 'people data' started in Conway, and has expanded into Little Rock. Trans-Union relies on them for data, they do indeed handle a lot of data.

          Alltel is based in Little Rock.

          Steven's corporation and many other financial houses are in AR. isn't quite a po-dunk as you might think. Hell, in Little Roc

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why contract with South Asians when you can contract with businesses run by good old American Indians?

        This is not as funny as it seems. I often though Hopi would make excellent computer programmers. People who speak Hopi fluently can you tell you that the language does not support ambiguity.

        Navajo is another language that may be good for "thinking like a computer programmer". The language's grammar has something similar to the "type-safety" found in OO languages like C++ and Java. The type-safety

    • Re:The Difference (Score:5, Informative)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:18PM (#10802731) Homepage Journal
      Compared to... New York? Hey youzz guyzzz got a problem with your computer?
      Or maybe Southern California. Dude your system has some seriously bad karma going on.

      Yea what ever. If you look at the school system ratings you will find that best schools tend to be in the more rural states. Here is the top ten by % of students that graduate. Only one state New Jersey could be called urban.

      1 NEW JERSEY 87%
      2 NORTH DAKOTA 86%
      3 UTAH 86%
      4 IOWA 85%
      5 NEBRASKA 84%
      6 SOUTH DAKOTA 83%
      7 WEST VIRGINIA 83%
      8 MONTANA 81%
      9 WISCONSIN 81%
      10 MINNESOTA 80%

      The big urban states of California and New York are ranked 35th and 39th.

      My home state is at the bottom of the list. Why? Our schools suck. Too many retired people that do not want to pay for good schools because "they already paid for their kids to go to school". Well when they get the snot beat out of them by roaming gangs of drop outs we will see. When will people learn that you will pay for schools or for prisons.
      • Re:The Difference (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TamMan2000 ( 578899 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:31PM (#10802863) Journal
        If you look at the school system ratings you will find that best schools tend to be in the more rural states. Here is the top ten by % of students that graduate. Only one state New Jersey could be called urban.

        Graduating a higher percentage doesn't mean better schools. In fact, it could mean lower standards...
        • Re:The Difference (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Nope. Many of those same states also tend to have high ACT/SAT scores too. The schools are certainly not the giant kid warehouses that you'll find in many metro areas. It's not uncommon to have teachers that not only taught your older siblings, but probably taught or went to school with your parents (depending on the subject, with the same books - our algebra teacher didn't want to get new books. The 20-30 year old ones were still in good shape and had harder problems than any of the new ones). The goo

        • Re:The Difference (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Pros_n_Cons ( 535669 )
          Graduating a higher percentage doesn't mean better schools. In fact, it could mean lower standards...

          Yeah California and New York have high education standards hehe.
          The mods take down the guy who posted facts (here they are btw) e_2.htm
          and mod +5 the guy with the "but, but..." retort that has absoultly no basis in fact. I'll ofcourse now be modded down for pointing this out. I love it
      • by OoSync ( 444928 ) <> on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:13PM (#10803261)
        Now, substitue that by income level of families and then we're talking.

        My basic point is that less-well-to-do families have a harder time producing children that do well in school. Economic health is a good indicator for many other problems that less able students face. Lack of proper nutrition, lack of proper materials (i.e., paper, pencils, clothes, shoes, coats, etc.), parents that are less able to spend quality time with the kids, kids from families with a poor social life together, stigmatization from their peers, and families that just resent the kid for ever being born.

        You can quibble with me on details and specific cases, but I've been there and seen all of it in action throughout my life. I was a poor kid, but my mother was smart and loving enough to do the right things to help me get ahead in life. She's now a teacher, teaching many children from the POOREST parts of southeast Georgia.

        Her kids are the poorest economically and educationally. She does her best, but there's no escaping the effects of simply being dirt poor.

        So, in a roundabout way, my point is that comparing performance by economic groups is probably a better way to compare school performance in each state. I don't have the data for this, but maybe I'll look into it.

        My suspicion (and I've been told by others that there is data to back this up, any pointers are helpful to confirm this), is that middle-class and up kids do quite damn good across the nation. Poor kids don't do so good across the nation. Differences in other states can probably be correlated to distribution of incomes among populations across the nation.

        In other words, poor-performing schools and states are more likely to be such because of a larger share of economically poor families (students) to better-off families.
    • Re:The Difference (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster ( 602015 )
      Well, that's an interesting question. Let me give you what might be a relevant example.

      Some years ago, an auto parts manufacturing company that I did a lot of contract systems development for moved from Illinois' second largest city (Rockford, some sixty miles from Chicago) out to a completely rural area a hundred and twenty-odd miles even further away from Chicago. I mean, I had to drive out there a few times to upgrade some equipment and I was amazed at just how rural it was. I passed farmland, cows
  • Uhhh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:43PM (#10802352)

    So rather than "Tank you vor calling Cisco, dis is Singh, how may I help you?" I'll hear "Thanks fer callin' Cis-coe, this is Billy-Joe Jim-Bob, what's yer malfunction?"

    It's a joke, lighten up.
  • Count me in. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JavaLord ( 680960 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:44PM (#10802355) Journal
    I'll move from Manhattan to somewhere in hicksville for a job in no time. Fresh air, no subways, no bums. I'm down. Where do I sign up?
    • Re:Count me in. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:54PM (#10802465)
      That's the part I never quite understood about companies that want to be built in downtown areas.

      The commute sucks cause everyone has to drive to a subway station first. Then take a subway as the 2nd part of commute.

      Even if you want to drive, chances are you won't find parking.

      The office lease is far more expensive in the center of a city than some suburbs.

      The network speed is the same.

      The company may be in some skyscraper building sharing it with 50 companies. That means your company is on the 20th floor. Management gets all the window office, and everyone else cubes.

      • Re:Count me in. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by misleb ( 129952 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:19PM (#10802734)
        Simple. "Downtown" is central. As much of a pain as it might be to get downtown, it can be much more difficult to get from one suburb to another. Public transportation usually isn't even an option in this case. Also, don't forget about how many potential employees live in the city.

        That said, there is a trend, at least in the Chicago metro area for companies to put offices in suburbs. They got big high rises in the middle of nowhere. ANd i'll tell you... they SUCK as far as location goes. The only things they have going for them is a cheaper leases and parking. A reverse commute can be just as nasty and, again, public transporation is not an option. It is a car or nothing. It is also more difficult to carpool becuase the chances of a friend going to work in the same area as you is slim.


      • Re:Count me in. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by soft_guy ( 534437 )
        Typically downtown areas are centrally located which means that if your main concern is to attract "talent" from across a metro region, you have a good chance to make it possible for everyone to get to you.

        Second, I think there is a certain amount of cachet from being located downtown.

        Third, there are lots of good places to eat lunch.

        I used to work for a company in downtown Seattle that was pretty much like what you are describing. Management got the good window view of Elliot Bay and everyone else got c
      • Re:Count me in. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jfruhlinger ( 470035 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:27PM (#10802816) Homepage
        That's the part I never quite understood about companies that want to be built in downtown areas. The commute sucks cause everyone has to drive to a subway station first. Then take a subway as the 2nd part of commute.

        And THAT'S why oil costs so damn much and Americans are so damn fat, everybody!

        Hey, you know those buildings that the subway passes by on its way downtown? The ones that are within walking distance of the subway stops? People live in those buildings, and they don't need to drive to the subway station. In fact, often they don't need to own a car at all!

        Does the phrase "transit-oriented development" mean anything to you? No, I didn't think it did.

        • Re:Count me in. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by EvilNTUser ( 573674 )

          Not to mention that in civilized countries, "downtown" is a pleasant place to live, with lots of services and jobs close to popular apartments for both families and singles. No need for everyone to live in huge monotonous suburbs with one car per family member.

      • Re:Count me in. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by furball ( 2853 )
        Concentrated business areas mean there are easy access to other businesses nearby. For my organization the fact that one of our possible software vendors being only 3 blocks away mean that we can walk a meeting and resolve issues. Don't underestimate the value of face to face meetings. Closer is better.

        The commute doesn't suck if you also live in the area. The general philosophy of zoning in the US is atrociously bad. By zoning large commercial areas away from large residential areas you create traffic. By
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:44PM (#10802356)
    Hurray! As part of the Bush initiative to grow the job market in America, skilled, college educated professionals can now make as much money as their counterparts in third-world countries!

    America - I love this place!
  • by rackhamh ( 217889 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:44PM (#10802359)
    Somewhat appropriate for an article about rural America.
  • Oh great (Score:5, Funny)

    by prostoalex ( 308614 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:44PM (#10802363) Homepage Journal
    I can stop worrying about my job going to India and start worrying about my job going to Indiana.
    • Re:Oh great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:50PM (#10802432) Homepage Journal
      The difference? You can follow your job to Indiana. Even better is that rural areas have lower costs of living, thus making $50,000/yr a very good wage to have.

      Honestly, this isn't anything new. In Wisconsin, we had several big companies move (American Family Insurance, Lands End, etc.) because they could run their operations far cheaper while still being within driving distance of Chicago. It's really a win-win situation for everyone.
      • Re:Oh great (Score:5, Insightful)

        by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:17PM (#10802715)
        Even better is that rural areas have lower costs of living, thus making $50,000/yr a very good wage to have.

        Of course, those same jobs that paid $50,000 in the big city are only going to be offered for $40,000 in the rural areas.

        Sure, you'll be able to afford more housing for the buck, but lifestyle items (cars, DVDs, even most food products) cost about the same all over the country. You could actually end up with less buying power by following a job out to greener pastures.
  • Wahoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:44PM (#10802364) Homepage
    South Dakota gladly welcomes it's new in-sourcing overlords!

    One hopes this expands my job prospects here... not that it matters too much, I love my job.
  • it will be good news for American techies-at least the ones in rural communities and those willing to move there

    But will they be able to survive without pizza deliveries?
  • by StateOfTheUnion ( 762194 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:46PM (#10802377) Homepage
    Rural Sourcing's fees are about the same as the overall cost of using an Indian outsourcer, she said--if you consider factors such as communication costs, travel expenses and inconvenience.

    What I'd like to know is how much money the "inconvenience" factor counts for . . . Sounds like a catch-all category for costs that is used to magiacally make rural sourcing as cheap as outsourcing to India.

    • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:53PM (#10802454) Homepage Journal
      It's referred to as a "soft cost". They can be very difficult to quantify, so, yes, there is probably some fudging of the number to make it work. However, the "inconvenience factor" as well as cultural differences are two of the items you will see on almost every outsourcing pros & cons list.
      • as cultural differences are two of the items you will see on almost every outsourcing pros & cons list. and there's no cultural differences between a former farm hand from Alambama and an investment banker from NYC. No sir...
    • by Quikah ( 14419 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:08PM (#10802629)
      I have been on several projects which involved business units on the other side of the world. There are times when you basically lose a day because you find something in the morning that needs the other team to fix. This can be mitigated by forcing one team or the other to shift their work schedule, but this can cause other problems for the team who are forced to change.

      Also if you are dealing with hardware it is a lot easier to get something overnighted in country than having to deal with customs.
  • by BandwidthHog ( 257320 ) <inactive.slashdo ...> on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:46PM (#10802383) Homepage Journal
    Yet another language barrier to surmount.

    At least the guys in Mumbai are *trying* to enunciate.

    (I grew up somewhere that has a native accent thicker than Brooklyn's, and currently live in North Carolina, so I have a legal right to make these jokes)
  • by darth_MALL ( 657218 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:47PM (#10802394)
    Not according to This. [] It appears the 'rural' states aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.

    this post intended to be humerous and or ironic. please treat as such.
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:49PM (#10802410)
    From the prices I've seen listed, it would be illigal to employ Americans (or even Amerucuns) for anything even close to the same amount.
    • I don't think the idea is to pay Americans the same wage as Indians. I think the idea is to have the same effective cost per employee. The fact that Indians are half-way around the world tends to result in a lot of hidden costs. These hidden costs add up and make an Indian worker just as expensive as a cheap American worker.
      • Actually... the idea is to get the same cost per unit output. No one in business really cares how much they pay their employees (or at least no one with any brains). What they care about is what they have to pay per unit output. If hiring a rural-american to costs $30/hour, and they produce 10 widgets/hour, and hiring an Indian costs $5/hour and they produce 1 widget/hour, you'd have to be incredibly dim to hire the Indian ($5/widget) vs the rural-american ($3/widget). It's all about costs and productiv
  • by amightywind ( 691887 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:49PM (#10802411) Journal

    I landed in the Kansas City area after the bubble burst in Boston. Living costs are quite modest here, and it is a pleasant place to live. The hacking is the same. That does not stop my company from outsourcing to India though. Slavery is very attractive to business.

    • Kansas City is not rural. It may be a shade smaller than Boston, but if you've gotta drive more than 10-15 minutes to see farmland, you're not in a rural area. KC spans 2 friggin' states, has professional sports teams, and more than 1 Wal-Mart. Rural areas generally do none of those things.
  • by mqx ( 792882 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:49PM (#10802418)

    In his trilogy on "the information age", manuel castells looked at the evolving and future structure of current society. One of his suggestions, which I remember clearly, is to forget looking at first, second and third world as being rigidly defined around countries (i.e. the idea that some are "first", others are "second", etc).

    He suggests that the world is really becoming a patchwork of first, second and third - so that even so called advanced countries (on average) have third world areas, and even third world countries have first world areas. When you look at it this way, then it shouldn't be surprising about "outsourcing" from advanced economic zones (e.g. SF) to third world zones (e.g. places in the deep south).

    Either way, I found this conceptual idea of his to be a very powerful one.
  • Funny, that... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kronovohr ( 145646 ) <(kronovohr) (at) (> on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:49PM (#10802420)

    While in a manner of speaking I'm all for this, it's already been done to death.

    Throughout the last 100-someodd years, the rest of the US has looked to the South as "cheap labor" -- most of the factories that've closed here paid just at or barely above minimum wage, with no option for any real pay raises, and offer conditions that no state in the North would accept. Perhaps this is just a return to that trend. I can only hope that the trend of severe employee abuse won't carry over.

  • by randomErr ( 172078 ) < minus city> on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:50PM (#10802429) Journal
    Send those jobs to Toledo. Our government is into massive deficit spending.

    We need work!!!!!!!!!!
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:54PM (#10802461)
    Some folks'lll never eat a skunk
    But then again, some folks'll
    Like Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel

    Most folks'll never lose a toe
    But then again, some folks'll
    Like Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel

  • by lukewarmfusion ( 726141 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:55PM (#10802479) Homepage Journal
    I've sold my company's services simply by pointing out that my rates (in Indiana) are much cheaper than similar firms in New York, California, or even nearby Chicago.

    You want to pay $150+ an hour for a Chicago guy to do the same thing that we'll do for $75 an hour?

    This can bite you when they find another firm offering $50/hour. At some point, it's just not cost effective to run a business that cheap... not to mention that you'll have a harder time finding qualified employees to work for so little.

    If I could make the salary of a comparable California worker, but live in Indiana, I'd be doing very well.
  • Ob Troll (Score:5, Funny)

    by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:55PM (#10802492) Homepage
    Maybe it wasn't a good idea to do this with that ballot-counting contract...

    I keed!
  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:56PM (#10802496) Homepage
    I've considered opening a call center in my hometown in Indiana on a number of occassions. It just makes more sense than sending the jobs to India.
  • Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:02PM (#10802554)
    And for all y'all "Oh, but I could never live in rural America. It's so boring! There's nothing to do! No culture out there..." types.

    Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley: Get paid $80K, pay 28% federal tax plus 9-10% state/city tax. House costs $500K-$1M.

    East Buttfuck, Wyoming: Get paid $50K. Pay 25% federal tax plus 0.0% state tax. House costs $60K-$100K.

    If you've saved enough money for a down payment in the People's Republic of Kalifornia, you can buy a house for cash in rural America. And if you've been there long enough that you actually own your house in the People's Republic of Kalifornia, you can sell it, buy a house and a Ferrari, and have change left over for a fucking Porsche in rural America. That's right.

    Wanna visit the opera? Hop in the Ferrari on Friday after work, tear up the asphalt (long live long straight highways featuring speed limits defined only by the words "reasonable and prudent" -- it's like the American Autobahn!), party your ass off all weekend, and come home on Sunday.

    One look at the horrible things he's done to a Ferrari should make any self-respecting geek aspire to make John Romero our bitch. The best part about rural America isn't that a middle-class IT geek can enjoy such a lifestyle -- it's that he or she can pay for it on the interest and tax savings alone.

    Who is John Galt? When you leave a high-tax state for rural America, you are.

    • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kenja ( 541830 )
      "If you've saved enough money for a down payment in the People's Republic of Kalifornia, you can buy a house for cash in rural America."

      But then you'd own a house in rural America. There is a reason they cost less, fewer people want them. Simple economics.

    • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cduffy ( 652 )
      There's a middle way, too.

      Austin, Texas: Get paid $55K (if you could find a $50K job in East Buttfuck). Pay 25% federal tax plus 0.0% state tax. House costs $100K-$250K.

      It's still a huge improvement over thte PRK financially, and you still get to live somewhere with interesting people (who aren't rednecks or rabid Bush supporters) and interesting things to do.

      Plus, by moving here, you're increasing land values, and making my ($120K) house worth more. So everybody wins! :)
    • by sideshow ( 99249 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:24PM (#10803764)
      Sorry I was busy surfing the chest high waves over at Zuma and enjoying the 70 degree mid November beach weather.

      Wait, why was East Buttfuck, Wyoming better then Southern California again?
  • by TykeClone ( 668449 ) * <> on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:07PM (#10802617) Homepage Journal
    I live in a small town of about 600 people. A small shop like this (even just 10 workers and a single support person) would make a big positive difference in our local economy.
  • Face the facts! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asliarun ( 636603 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:11PM (#10802659)
    Face the facts. If you say that India is a outsourcing success story, look at the reasons why. On average, goods in India, barring housing and cars, cost only 20% (or less) of what it costs here in USA. On top of it, the standards of a good life and luxury are far lower than in the US.

    In California, you call yourself middle-class if you have a 0.5 mil house, a boat, 2 cars etc. In India, most middle class folks consider a car with a boot as a luxury car (i'm not joking, Hyundai Accent, Ford Ikon, Fiat Siena etc. are considered high-end luxury cars). Even a person driving a small hatch-back considers himself/herself as having acheived something. This is why the big multinationals can afford to pay 10% of what they pay in the US, and still manage to retain a happy workforce!

    Add to that, an abundance of intelligent, hard-working, English speaking people, extremely willing to slog for 12 hours a day so that they can save enough over 3-5 years to afford a Maruti Suzuki 800 (yes, it's a ~780 cc car), who can compete with that? Yes, there's still issues, such as infrastructure, accents, timezone differences, etc. and lots of bad apples in the workforce too, but it still doesnt overpower the cost advantage.

    It's a bit like how the x86 architecture took over the computer world. People assumed initially, and rightly too, that x86 was inefficient and too cheap. What they didn't count on was that as x86 sold more and more, it also innovated and improved, and very soon, offered a double-whammy cost AND performance advantage over the other proprietary systems. Again, people pad up the costs by factoring communication cost, travel cost etc. What they don't realize is that these costs are firstly, marginal, and secondly, reducing over time.

    The cost of living in the midwest or in rural America might be somewhat less than the metros or the coasts, but it cannot compete with the cost advantage offered by countries like India, Taiwan, China etc.

    IMHO, rural america can compete effectively with other IT companies. Only, they need to sing a different song. They have to be flexible and play on their natural strengths and not on their weaknesses. For example, if a lot of techies in the small towns and villages got together, formed a virtual company or organization, and offered standardized software solutions to local businesses and institutions, there is NO way that the big city businesses or another country could compete with them. Don't compete on cost, compete on value.
  • by BRSQUIRRL ( 69271 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:39PM (#10802962)
    I worked at a development shop in Little Rock, Arkansas for a couple of years before getting married and moving to a very large U.S. city (I think it is #4 currently) when my wife was accepted to medical school here, so I think I'm qualified to do a bit of comparison.

    I think that there are a lot of cities in the U.S. in the 100,000 - 200,000 population range that people don't really consider for whatever reason, either as places to live or for corporations. Little Rock, for example, had most of the shopping, dining, etc. of a larger city but without nearly as much pollution and traffic and with a lower cost of living to boot. To respond specifically to some of the comments I've seen in this thread so far: we had Starbucks, pizza delivery, clubs/raves (if that is your thing), a symphony orchestra, and a minor league baseball team (the only thing that I would miss if I moved back would be the professional sports).

    I think there is rural, as in one gas station, one stoplight, and a Sonic...and then there is "rural", as in "not one of the 50 largest cities in the US", and I think businesses would do well to look more closely at the latter.
  • by CodeHog ( 666724 ) <joe,slacker&gmail,com> on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:44PM (#10803014) Homepage
    I've been working with outsourcing for over a year and 1/2 now. We've been talking about how we should move to some rural area with low taxes, property values, and housing costs for a year now. It just makes sense IF you can get quality individuals working for you. And it will happen more frequently as fed up highly talented individuals get tired of the rat race and decide to move somewhere, uh, less rat racy. I know of one person on the team who now works from Idaho after moving from Chicago. Do the math, Idaho cost of living is < Chicago and they experienced no pay decreases! Another person moved from Chicago to rural Wisconsin and kept the same pay. If the company is willing, you'll see a migration from the cities to the small towns over the next few years. I personally think it's great. The 80's and 90's were an era of migration from these rural areas where the jobs had been drying up rapidly (I'm a case in point, couldn't get a job in my hometown doing what I do, still can't). Hopefully that trend will reverse somewhat. America is loosing it's small town / rural heritage and I believe that heritage is part of what made America a great place in the first place.
  • inner bigness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:53PM (#10803095) Homepage Journal
    This is exactly what the country needs: "Blue" business/culture centers connecting directly with "Red" labor centers. More intercommunication is the only way to bridge the unsustainably deep divides between Blue/Red communities. American strength in diversity relies also on rural areas, perhaps homogenous internally, but part of the landscape that makes America a microcosm of the world. Why should American globalism rest on a hollow foundation, ignoring the interior solely to harness the exterior?
  • by Chatz ( 8725 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:57PM (#10803597)
    I worked for an Australian company that with a bit of government funding and support from a major university setup a software engineering course in a rural city (100,000 people?), where they would complete their degree part time while working on real contracts.

    No where else other than the major cities could they hope to get a degree like that in Australia. And having the work experience behind them would have made them highly employable.

    I still believe the idea was good, but starting this just as the bubble burst meant that there was little work and after a couple of years it was closed down.

    There was a lot of difficulty in attracting work to the centre since there were always about their ability being junior engineers. So we had to attract some senior engineers there as well to lead the teams. That was harder than attracting contracts, since we were the only employer in the area looking for those skills. But fundamentally the inability of the company to attract work for itself let alone the training center was its downfall.

    What happened to the people that were there? Many have now moved to the cities to complete their degrees and get work.
  • by koreth ( 409849 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @11:03PM (#10804739)
    I grew up in a semi-rural area in the mountains in California. The closest store was an hour and a half walk away. No food delivery, and there were power outages every winter and spring whenever it rained heavily for a few days in a row and a mudslide knocked out the power lines. Now I live in Silicon Valley, and other than visiting my parents or attending family get-togethers, I'm not heading back any time soon.

    For one thing, food. I'm a foodie and I love variety. In addition to burgers and sandwiches, I am walking distance from Philippine, Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and even Armenian food. If I want to cook something, I'm less than 10 minutes from Chinese, Mexican, Korean, and Indian supermarkets, as well as a couple of American ones and a fresh-produce store that acts as kind of a permanent farmer's market. Can I get a reliable supply of sumac [] or fenugreek [], a durian [], or fresh kaffir lime leaves [] in rural America?

    When a friend of mine who was going to grad school in Indiana came back here, the first thing she did was force me to take her out to eat because she hadn't been able to find Thai food for six months.

    A lot of midsize towns and cities have cineplexes and shopping malls. Catching "Revenge of the Sith" will be no problem anywhere in the country. But I also like to go see more obscure stuff like "Primer" [] -- hard enough to find even in a big city with lots of art houses. Short of waiting for the DVDs or pirating them over the Internet, I doubt I'd be able to find most of the cult films I've seen in nearby theaters if I lived in a rural area. (One theater in San Jose used to show Hong Kong action films and anime every Tuesday night, though it has since changed owners and now shows Bollywood musicals.)

    For exercise and socializing, I enjoy ballroom dance (the competition-style variety, more like figure skating than like Grandma and Grandpa at your sister's wedding). I am walking distance from a giant ballroom studio that gets a crowd of several hundred people four nights a week, and on any given Saturday night I'm twenty minutes' drive from at least four other ballroom venues, not to mention more salsa clubs than I can count.

    I like meeting people with all sorts of different backgrounds, and this area gives me that in spades. There is no ethnic majority in San Jose. [] Three of my last four girlfriends grew up in foreign countries (China, Australia, and Vietnam) which suits me fine -- I like hearing a completely different perspective on things I find familiar and commonplace. There are certainly immigrant communities elsewhere in the US, but only on the coasts, and pretty much only in the major urban areas on the coasts, do you find such a varied mix of people from all over the place, all getting along just fine most of the time.

    Yes, the traffic here can be annoying. But that's why we have telecommuting -- I work from home three out of five days most weeks, so my typical commute time is the 10 seconds it takes me to get from my bedroom to my home office.

    The economy here would have to get really bad before I'd consider moving back to a rural area. Urban areas with their melting-pot cultures and abundance of activities that are only economically viable with a certain population density suit me much, much better.

  • by ( 213219 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @11:29PM (#10804862) Journal
    Rural outsourcing would help people living in rural areas get jobs. Because business looks at an areas pay scale before they decide what to offer the tech style jobs will be lower in rural America than in the cities and that will probably be good for business.

    The rural techs would "steal" jobs from their urban counterparts and would cheapen the overall value of technical jobs.

    The truth is there are already a lot of underpaid technical types in rural areas. Today you can consider mechanics technical types and people with these analytical skills do live in rural areas.

    I grew up in a small midwestern town. I left. I left because I like computers and I like being well paid. You don't find many computer jobs in small towns and you don't find hardly any decent paying jobs in small towns.

    Still keeping the jobs in the US is a boon to the country and getting rural areas jobs will help with the chronic unemployment in these towns. But there is nothing to stop these folks from gaining experience and moving to the city in search of better pay! If that happens there will be a larger surplus of us tech types in the city and our pay will slide closer to the rural folks. So for me, perhaps it is bad.
  • by MarkWatson ( 189759 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @12:14AM (#10805040) Homepage
    My wife and I moved from the beach in San Diego to the mountains of Northern Arizona almost 7 years ago. We find the cost of living to be very much lower here (and with wilderness surrounding us for hiking and picnicking, the standard of living much better).

    We both work fewer hours per week and for usually lower pay, and much less stress. Anyway, it works for us.

    The internet and cheap flat rate long distance makes telecommuting possible, but still not as effective as being on site. I try to spend time on consulting, writing and developing a few (very much niche) software products.
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @12:34AM (#10805112) Journal
    Rural Sourcing began pitching its services this summer and can boast of five major customers, including a large telecommunications company, White said. She said the companies haven't given their permission to be named publicly.

    Though I don't have any inside information, I'd bet the unnamed company is Verizon.

    Call up their tech support number and you will hear an American on the other end. Several times, I've talked to someone with a southern accent.

    Most of all, it seems the most amaturish support center I've ever called. 9 problems out of 10, I'll get a completely different answer from each support person I talk to. They seem quite determined to pass the buck, giving me any answer they can make up that will require me to call back. You wouldn't believe how many times I've heard some lame answer, that all the problems will be magically fixed "tomorrow", even when they've gone on for weeks. And, of course, they NEVER fail to mark the issue as CLOSED, when they've never solved anything. This screws up the automated phone system, requiring me to call it a "NEW" issue every time I call in about the same thing.

    If you're wondering about the 10th time out of 10, I'll get the exact same response from 4 different people, but they'll all be COMPLETELY wrong.

    Anyhow, I never understood what was happening there, but this story seems to fit perfectly, and explain the issue.

    Of course, I certainly hope I'm wrong, and Verizon support just happens to be terrible. I'm the last person to advocate outsourcing, so I hope REALLY crappy American support isn't the only alternative.
  • No, thank you. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @12:49AM (#10805172) Homepage
    The governments of small midwestern states have been pimping out their citizens to businesses as people who will work long and hard without complaining for minimum wage and few benefits. They turn around and tell those citizens they are working hard to bring quality, high-paying jobs.

    The citizens of these states, especially the "young" people between 18 and 35, have figured this out and are turning their backs on the government of their homes. The past decade has been characterized by a massive outmigration from rural states to Top 50 metropolises. It's a literal brain drain for the communities they leave.

    The community in which I live has a special economic development fund that has been an unmitigated disaster, taking tax dollars from our sales tax and giving it to companies who promise to bring in a certain amount of new jobs. There has been, in practice, no accountability and the jobs have sucked. Firms have closed overnight, taking millions of tax dollars with them and leaving hundreds of citizens unemployed with back pay due they'll never see.

    The largest employers in this village of ~40,000 people are (besides the air force base, hospital and school district) a technical help desk contractor, a hotel reservation phone pool, a airline reservation phone pool, an insurance agency phone pool, and an adult vocational training center. Despite the "success" of most of these businesses starting within the last 5 years, the median wage has stayed flat at around $25,000.

    There are some bright spots. A home that costs ~$150,000 dollars here would set you back ~$2,000,000 in Silicon Valley. Our arts culture here is very strong thanks to the local university, including our excellent volunteer symphony orchestra. I guess that's about it.

    Crime isn't low because of the meth epidemic. I have a buddy on the county's drug enforcement squad and the stories he can tell would make for a terrific Al Pacino movie. Except for our housing costs, our cost of living is comparable to the rest of the nation but the fresh produce isn't as fresh nor as diverse.

    Now a Super Wal*Mart is scheduled to open next year and our "civic leaders" are touting this as another economic development success. The truth is the citizens are tired of working two or three jobs to get in 40 hours a week and enough of a paycheck to support three kids in their 70's era trailer or trashy $600/month apartment.

    I'm lucky to have a great federal government job as a systems administrator. My wife is a dental hygienist with an almost unbelievably fantastic work and pay schedule. We are very lucky.

    But to those who would pimp out my neighbors or "outsource" more shitty jobs to communities like this I say go to hell. If the Indians or Chinese or Mexicans will take this shit they are welcome to it. That's not flamebait or nationalism or anything of the sort. It's the truth.
  • by Ranger ( 1783 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @01:54AM (#10805381) Homepage
    Tulsa, Oklahoma is a call center mecca. There are 80 plus call centers here. Some are small but most employ hundreds. It's about the only thing left after all the other industries imploded (oil, aviation, telecommunications). These jobs typically pay $8-$10/hr which isn't a bad wage for someone with only a high school education. The work itself is another matter.

    They are cubicle sweathshops. Poor training coupled with the most micromanaged industry in the known Universe creates a highly stressed work environment where employment is measured in months. Turnover is high but they can always turn around and get a job at another call center for a few more months. With so many people out of work from formerly high paying jobs they have a ready supply of desperate workers.

    The best selling point for outsourcing to Oklahoma is that it's like an emerging third world country, but here at home. It's mostly rural with pockets of high technology. The cost of living is low. It's in the central time zone so they only have to get up an hour earlier to take calls from the East coast and stay two hours later to take calls from the West coast. And most people have a high school education. And best of all they speak English even if it has an Okie twang to it.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith