With its decision to stay in New Jersey, Marathon Data Systems is ready to double down on its commitment to help create a bona fide technology industry in the Garden State.
But CEO Chris Sullens said he hopes other companies can join the cause alongside the Neptune-based software firm.
“We need some bigger, growing technology companies to get the word that there’s some really cool opportunities for engineers, where you don’t have to go into the city,” Sullens said last week as Marathon Data officially opened its new headquarters on Route 66.
The company, which relocated from Wall, already has been active in recent years about connecting with New Jersey colleges such as the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Monmouth University — all with an eye toward fostering interest in the local tech sector and engaging tomorrow’s workforce. That has meant events such as hack-a-thons, in which software specialists spend 24 hours brainstorming new programs and applications from scratch, or getting involved with so-called tech meetups in the area.
But Marathon had considered moving some 75 jobs to Boston, where it has another office. It was only enticed to stay and expand here in December with a $3.2 million Grow New Jersey tax credit, prompting the opening of its new Wall headquarters.
Still, Sullens noted “it’s much easier to find engineers in Boston that it is here, so that’s why we’re working with the schools to try to cultivate that.”
Not that New Jersey is devoid of engineering talent. It’s quite the opposite — and New Jersey does in fact have a “viable” tech industry, he said.
The technology “cluster” identified by state officials accounted for 353,356 jobs in 2012, or 11.1 percent of private-sector employment statewide, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The cluster includes industries with a high proportion of scientists, engineers and technicians.
But Sullens said the onus is on Marathon and others in the industry to continue to make connections with area youth.
“I think that’s what people think: if I want a cool job I have to go to the city or I’ve got to go somewhere else,” Sullens said. “We’ve got to somehow get the word out that there’s a lot of really cool jobs and you don’t have to commute an hour and a half.”
ALSO ON NJBIZ: