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In The News

Wichita tech companies hold steady on employment, buck national trend
The Wichita Business Journal
February 15, 2010

A recent study found job cuts in the U.S. technology sector reached a four-year high in 2009, up to 174,629.

That's 12.3 percent higher than the 155,570 industry cuts announced in 2008, and represents 13.2 percent of the 1.3 million job cuts across all industries in 2009.

Some Wichita technology companies held steady employment levels or even added positions last year. But, for leaders, optimism moving forward is dependent upon the clients and customers they serve.

"We had no cuts last year," says Kevin Colborn, director of corporate technology and facilities for Wichita-based High Touch Inc. "Internally, we're growing and have added a few positions."

The company provides technology services, including IT management and Web site development, to clients in all 50 states and in six countries.

Colborn says High Touch has 145 employees companywide but it's hiring only as needed, depending on the projects the company is working on.

Opportunities and concerns
Some of the growth was the result of companies saving during the recession by outsourcing their IT services, Colborn says.

"You can only increase sales so much and then you have to start looking at your costs," he says. "And technology can save on costs."

He also says continued efforts toward electronic medical records could provide technology companies a major growth opportunity in 2010.

Jim Smith, owner of Twotrees Technologies, which provides Internet management, hardware and software to school districts, told the Wichita Business Journal in April he feared education budget cuts would force him to let some workers go.

He made it through 2009, he says, without having to make any cuts and work is still coming in from other states, although the market in Kansas is flat.

"Our biggest concern is that the uptick in Q1 is kind of a false one because it's based on government spending," he says. "When you're talking about Q2 and Q3, we're still not real optimistic."

The national study found the hardest hit segment was electronics firms, which had job cuts rise by 55 percent in 2009.

Greg Hephner, president of Wichita's Hephner TV & Electronics Inc., says those cuts haven't trickled down to his retail business.

He says he made no cuts in 2009 and even added some seasonal help over the holidays. He employs 14 permanent workers and says he's not hiring.

But, he says, there's still enough uncertainty moving forward that not taking a step back will work for now.

"It's all about the status quo right now," he says. "You just want to hang on where you're at."

 

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