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CIBER Ahead Of Southfield Hiring Projections

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Greenwood Village, Colo.-based CIBER Inc. says it’s ahead of schedule on its hiring for its Detroit Global Solutions Center in Southfield, where it’s providing a wide variety of tech services for the Minneapolis health care giant UnitedHealth Group and hard at work attracting more clients.

“We made a commitment to have over 700 employees as part of this project over the next seven years,” said CIBER director of marketing and communications Armen Kabodian. “We’ve already exceeded our plan, since we’ve hired 150 people since January.”

Kabodian said a combination of the talent available in Detroit and state and local tax incentives lured the CIBER office to Southfield.

“The tax credit from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the city of Southfield was very important to bring this facility here,” Kabodian said. “What’s really interesting about this facility is that its first customer is a customer out of Minnesota, UnitedHealth Group. That customer could have chosen any location for this facility and this project, and based on a variety of reasons we were able to convince them that Michigan was the place to put it.”

And it wasn’t just the taxes, Kabodian said — instead, it was the availability of large numbers of qualified staff, many of them unemployed, to do the work United Health wanted done, from electronic data interchange to project management.

“The auto industry invested a lot in EDI, and as a result of the downturn there were cutbacks in this area, so there was a lot of great talent avaialble, and we were able to convince the customer that this location would be a great fit for them,” Kabodian said.

CIBER was actually established in Dearborn in 1974, and Ford Motor Co. was its first client. Some 600 — and growing weekly — of CIBER’s 8,000 employees work in the Detroit area. The company’s name is an acronym for Consultants In Business, Engineeirng and Research, and it’s expanded its management consulting services from IT support to supply chain management, digital marketing, ERP implementation and support and IT outsourcing.

Kabodian said CIBER will maintain its 11,600-square-foot Southfield Town Center office for administration and sales, but the 28,600-square-foot Solutions Center will continue to grow in the Galleria complex.

Steve Vaerten, CIBER EDI program manager, said the company is “helping our client to develop new and improved processes to help streamline their current project management practices.” CIBER is also assisting United Health with a program that offers rate reductions to diabetics and pre-dicabetics for healthy lifestyles.

Vaerten and Kabodian said about half of the people CIBER has hired so far in Detroit have been unemployed — tossed mostly out of the automotive and financial services sectors.

The company is rapidly hiring people with EDI and health care experience; check out the openings at www.ciber.com.

The new CIBER employees I talked to Monday are happy for the opportunity.

Vaerten, of Commerce Township, said he was let go at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michgian after reaching the maximum tenure for a contract employee.

Ronald Pouget of Oxford spent 23 years at EDS supporting General Motors on a variety of projects, when GM announced its worst quarter ever, and his position supporting OnStar got the axe. Now at CIBER, he’s doing data mapping, getting different kinds of data inputs to talk to each other.

And Brian Christofis spent more than 24 years in management information systems with National Bank of Detroit and its successors — Bank One, First Chicago, Chase — surviving consolidation after consolidation, until Chase finally outsourced its IT operation to Accenture.

“The thing about Michigan right now is that there’s a lot of really really talented people who can’t find a job, and that’s who we’re looking for,” Vaerten said.

All three said the thing they love about CIBER is that empty desks in the cavernous new Southfield center are gradually filling in — not emptying out, as with their former employers. They said they’re glad to be serving a growing industry in health care.

Kabodian said CIBER has plenty of room to grow, both in its current space and elsewhere in the Galleria complex.

More at www.ciber.com.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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