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The software company I work at is headquartered in a relatively small suburb of New York, with a small office in NYC. I'm trying to convince upper management to expand operations in our NYC office because I feel the talent pool is greater there and it's much easier to attract new hires to work in NYC than in a small city in Connecticut. They're resisting, however, due to the cost of rental space in New York. I firmly believe that the value of the talent we could attract would greatly outweigh rent, but I'm having a hard time coming up with numbers and solid arguments to support my case.

Can anyone give me substantial advantages to hiring in a big city? I'm looking for arguments I could bring to my bosses to show that the company would benefit from a larger presence in New York. I'm specifically talking about software engineering, but broader ideas work as well.

Or, if you agree with my bosses and think that it's not worth it, could you explain that side a little more?

CLARIFICATION: I'm looking for reasons for or against growing the office in New York City to be "where the people are" rather than reasons to hire people from NYC to work in CT.

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    I suppose if actually you had good candidates turn down offers, or say they weren't even interested in interviewing and the primary reason was the location, then that should be convincing. Would management let NYC residents work from home as an incentive to them? – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner May 31 '12 at 20:26
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    Hi stinkycheeseman, and welcome to The Workplace! Could you clarify if you are looking for information about recruiting candidates from big cities to work in the non-big city office, or opening an office "where the people are"? – jcmeloni May 31 '12 at 23:00
  • @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner, the issue there is that such candidates would likely not apply in the first place, rather than turn down offers or express discontent with the location – Tech Lover in NYC Jun 2 '12 at 1:48
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If your company already has an office in NYC, can you look to the people responsible for hiring there to give you hard data on the number and quality of applicants for the positions you have already filled there? While there are other factors involved (Are the roles currently there significantly different? Were the postings placed in similar locations and written in similar ways?), this should give you a rough idea of the validity of your suggestion that is specific to your company and therefore should be convincing for your bosses (or you).

Regarding NYC in particular, there was a recent infographic about the tech scene in New York.

As someone working in NY tech I am probably biased, but I do agree with your proposition that you will find a bigger, better talent pool here. Being in the same city as Wall St is actually a plus because many developers are happy to find opportunities to apply their software skills to industries outside of finance. Also, a recent article pointed out the role that the collapse of Wall St has had in making NYC a hotspot for tech startups - high amounts of laid off workers with cash to spare and a desire to work on challenging projects has led to an increase in innovative startups and hungry talent.

So, if you are looking for a deep talent pool and are willing to invest in your people, a big city and tech hub (like NYC has become) is a great place to be.

Gazarsgo makes a really good point though - if your management is balking at the rent, will they also balk at paying competitive salaries in NYC? It's fairly easy to get salary data on the same positions in different locations, so you should also consider that as a cost of hiring in the big city. And if you want to hire better talent, what other perks will you need to provide to entice and retain them?

I think the biggest factor here is to consider how important it is to your company's vision for you to attract and retain top talent. Does your company desire to be an innovation leader, or is your software very technically complex to build? Or is your company doing something that has been done before, and wants to do it well but is ok with not pushing into cutting edge? For a company doing something that makes business sense but isn't technically very challenging or new, it may not be worth the investment required to get that deep talent that you are wanting.

Articles related to deciding to hire tech in NYC:

New York City Now Fastest-Growing Tech Hub [INFOGRAPHIC]

eBay to Open Large Tech Office in NYC

Why Has New York Become a Paradise for Tech Startups?

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It's hard to say. In NYC you will be competing with Wall Street for developers. Can you?

Sure, NYC is a great location, but the cost of living is enormous, possibly the highest in the continental US. Connecticut is expensive too, but rentals are not nearly as high as Manhattan. I don't know what developers are getting in NYC. In Dallas talented developers with ten years experience are getting $125K+. It would take $250K in Manhattan to take home the same money after taxes and rent.

And why only NYC, and not Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Austin?

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If your senior management is balking at the rent in NYC it's very unlikely they're willing to be competitive enough on salary to hire in NYC.

If you feel like talent pool is an issue, depending on company size you should reconsider your technology choices before relocating. Mainstream languages relative to your area's demographics are going to broaden the talent pool more than being in NYC.

Having to choose between CT and NYC in isolation makes NYC arguably a winner, but in terms of business value there are many other locations that offer better 'talent pool' to 'dollars' ratios. Much of CA compares very favorably to NYC, and sticking to the east coast you've got both Atlanta and Raleigh as pretty attractive locations. I'm biased towards Texas for its proximity to both coasts.

Ultimately it depends on what kind of software you're creating and what sort of development workflow you're building. It's becoming pretty common to build a small team 'locally' and contract out to the Phillipines or India or South America for the bulk of development, but the success of each of these strategies depends entirely on what sort of software is being built and what existing skillsets reside within the business already.

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Convince them with the facts, but that means doing your ground work...

Advertise in both locations. Hook up with recruiters in both areas. Place ads or ask for recruiters to give you a list of candidates (or at least numbers) for each area. Evaluate what you get, recording totals at things like various levels of experience, etc.
Try and get some salary info in there too as that is a big factor.
If you really want to show you've done your research you're also going to need to look into the cost of office space in the two locations. You'll already know "your own", so that's half the battle done (unless moving locally for lower costs is also an option of course).

You are seen as the techy guy so some numbers and also analysis will help you make your case. You'll finally present the numbers and analysis and they will speak for themselves and you won't need to convince anyone. Or... you won't convince them due to factors like cost, and you'll need to think what you want to do next and where...

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Expanding or moving to NYC is a business decision. So, net profit (after tax) is the key.

Suppose your company is making revenue 10 m/yr and profit is 1 m.

If it can make 20 m/yr revenue three years after moving to NYC with profit still 1 m or little more, then why bother?

However, if the revenue will be more than triple, say 35 m after moving and the projected profit 2 years from now is 4 m, then of course, let's move to NYC!

I don't know enough about your company and what kind of software you are developping. If your customers (or potential customers) are in NYC, you have another good reason to move - close to the customers.

  • Note that I used the phrase "move to NYC" instead of "expand in NYC" in my answer because they are equivalent. Remote control is not a good business practice. – scaaahu Jun 2 '12 at 11:50
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For

Bigger talent pool big cities with good transport links have a much bigger talent pool than the suburbs – you do not have to live in Manhattan to work in NYC.

Average talent level is higher - unless your very close to an elite University.

Big clients want to you to have a presence close to them (this is vital if you are a professional services business).

The Buzz your employees get from working in a big vibrant city both in terms of socialising and cultural life.

Against

Cost of office space is probably the main one.

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