COIMBATORE: A silent Information Technology (IT) and Information Technology Enabled Service (ITES) boom is playing itself out in the industrial hub that Coimbatore is. While the earlier bounties were the culmination of untiring human efforts, this time around, the city has nature to thank for its piece of fortune. Many IT majors and ITES firms are making a beeline for Coimbatore to set up shop after two successive natural disasters struck Chennai in the span of two years.
If the 2015 floods jolted the companies by inundating the IT corridor in Chennai, the havoc wreaked by cyclone Vardah dealt a vicious blow to their functioning, making a search for alternative and safer locale an imperative. The move became necessary after the offshore clients of IT and ITES companies pressed them to look for a comparatively disaster-free location to carry out processes unhindered.
The mandarins in the IT corridor picked up the map and zeroed-in on Coimbatore largely due to the infrastructure facilities available here and the relative disaster-free climes. Ever since the influx started a year or so ago, the leading tech parks have been bursting at the seams.
While companies began to set up back-up operation centres in Coimbatore shortly after the December 2015 deluge in Chennai, the proverbial last straw was cyclone Vardah, which rendered even the famous IT corridor along the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) dysfunctional. There are now over 300 IT and
ITES companies operating out of the city.
One of the major beneficiaries of the shift has been the TIDEL Park. Set up in 2011, the park housed only one company till recently. However, a look at the park now reveals another tale. With over 70 companies occupying the space, there is little place for newcomers, it seems. All this happened in the span of two years.
It is not just the number of companies that has swelled the TIDEL Park. The influx means that it has become a major money spinner as well. Over 10,000 people work in the various companies in the park and it churned out a turnover of `850 crore in 2016-17 (till February). “Even the fully-furnished centre set up for start-up companies has seen full occupancy within two months of its coming up. The additional space available in the SEZ is likely to be allotted to two major corporate having bases in Chennai,” says S Chandrasekar, general manager (operations) of TIDEL Park.
“On the list of tier-two cities, Coimbatore figures top on IT companies preference criteria. City’s IT exports contribute a major chunk to the the overall software export from the State,” Chandrasekar adds.
Another major IT park cropped up in Keeranatham under the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the city in 2006. Built by Coimbatore Hi-tech Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (CHIL), the park became operational in 2009. However, the initial response was lukewarm, with only three firms renting the premises.
However, since the past two years, the park has been playing host to 16 companies, employing around 25,000 people. The turnover of companies in the park was upward of `2,500 crore in 2016-2017 (till February).
General manager (finance and infrastructure) of CHIL-SEZ IT Park, R Mageshwaran says, “The boom in the IT sector means it would not create employment opportunities for techies alone, but also a host of ancillary sectors. According to the survey of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), for every single IT job, three non-IT jobs were created. Going by that, we have created job opportunity for 75,000 people.”
NASSCOM senior director K Purushothaman says, Tamil Nadu accounts for 15 per cent of the national IT software export and Coimbatore contributes 15 per cent of the State’s software export.