Small-Town Outsourcing

Ann All

It seems as if every corner of the world is pitching itself as an outsourcing alternative to India, from Eastern Europe to Latin America to China.


But a number of alternatives are emerging here in the U.S. Rural America is becoming an option, particularly for U.S. companies that want to keep work on their own shores and for European companies that desire outsourcing locales with a closer proximity, both geographic and cultural.


In this recent story describing a British law firm's decision to relocate its back office to Wheeling, W. Va., the firm cited plentiful options for necessities like schooling and housing for its employees that work in the U.S. and a greater comfort with potentially sensitive tasks like processing legal documents.


Among the most interesting of the rural American options are those involving Native American reservations. An American/Chinese joint venture employs members of the Oglala Lakota tribe in South Datoka to fact-check data entry work performed in China. And Native Indian tribes in other states have established similar ventures.


Such efforts could defuse the normally negative political reaction to outsourcing, by helping provide jobs in areas where the few economic opportunities have centered around casinos.


It's outsourcing with a warm and fuzzy feel, in some ways similar to the "socially aware" variety of outsourcing practiced in Cambodia.

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