IT services company EDS officially opened its new North Shore offices last night, in the presence of the North Shore mayor George Wood and US EDS executive Steve Heidt.
The offices, which share a building with telco TelstraClear in the Smales Farm business park, have attracted attention for housing an applications support and development facility built with the help of a $1.5 million government grant.
The centre, which is being set up under EDS’ Best Shore plan of choosing appropriate countries to provide a worldwide, 24x7 support and development network, will be required to create several hundred jobs within three years or have to return the government's contribution. EDS will be kicking in “more than $15 million” in addition to the Investment New Zealand funding, says managing director Rick Ellis.
Best Shore offices employ 2600 staff around the world, the closest similar centre to Auckland being Adelaide. EDS, which to date fills two floors of the Smales Farm offices, employs another 200 staff in other offices around Auckland. The remainder of the company's 2000 local staff, some of whom came from earlier EDS acquisitions Databank and GCS, fill offices around the country.
Mayor Wood says ICT is a big part of North Shore city's economic development plan, citing Navman and Massey University as well as Smales Farm, where Tranz Rail also has its Auckland base. More expansion is planned at the site.
Heidt spoke of the establishment of the “newest and brightest star in the constellation” of EDS Best Shore facilities having taken a little convincing. He says Rick Ellis even left behind digital photos of the planned offices during a visit to the company's head office in Plano, Texas.
When the grant was announced in March it provoked a mixed response from the IT industry, particularly as EDS is a multibillion-dollar company with headquarters in the US.
Gen-i head Garth Biggs did not explicitly criticise the concept of state assistance for new operations, but said the subsequent funds should have been contestable.
Axon head Matt Kenealy said in March that a centre of the size of Smales Park would soon give the government a return on its money.
“If it really does create 360 jobs over three years, they [government] will probably get [the $1.5 million] back in PAYE anyway.”