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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

For some, tighter work visas might have a silver lining

While the Trump administration’s moves to tighten immigration rules, including the issuance of work visas, has drawn the ire of many technology companies who rely on foreign workers, there is a silver lining apparently for some firms.

I read an interesting article in the Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail, that explored how Montreal-based CGI Group might benefit from the Trump administration’s moves to revamp the visa system.

Over the last decade or more, CGI and its predecessor in the United States, American Management Systems, has been building what it calls onshoring centers.

Rather than rely on massive outsourcing centers in other countries such as India, CGI has built a home-based solution for its business process outsourcing operations as well as development work.

I believe it started with AMS when it won a large contract with Virginia to run certain IT operations. Part of the contract called for AMS to open a center in Lebanon, Va., in the southwestern part of the Commonwealth. Virginia wanted to improve economic development in that region.

From there, CGI has opened centers in Belton, Texas, Troy, Ala., Waterville, Maine, Wausau, Wis., and Lafayette, La. All of the centers are located away from large metropolitan areas so labor costs and other expenses are lower.

George Schindler, who ran CGI’s U.S. business and is now the company CEO, was one of the architects of the strategy.

CGI isn’t the only company to try this, but they’ve probably been the most successful. One reason is that the centers aren’t reliant on one customer or one contract. I think we’ve all seen companies open a center somewhere to support a single contract and then a few years later, they lose the contract the facility is shuttered.

CSRA is following a similar tactic and has opened the Integrated Technology Center in Bossier City, La., in November. Eventually, it should house over 800 jobs supporting a variety of federal government customers.

Obviously, CGI’s and CSRA’s strategies were put in place long before Donald Trump became president, so there are good business cases supporting them.

But more scrutiny of visas and where work is taking place should only help them.

Schindler said as much. He doesn’t expect the tightening of visa requirements to increase costs for CGI. “In fact, it’s probably a tailwind,” he said, according to the Global and Mail.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 02, 2017 at 9:49 AM

Reader Comments

Mon, Feb 6, 2017

While this is a good business case, it doesn't really help the world. Creating sprawl and rural development is detrimental to our environment in the long run and quality of life of the employees suffers.

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