TechBeat: Grant money helps persuade video game testing company to open Ann Arbor office
Video game testing and development company Nelson Interactive will invest $1.2 million to open an office in Ann Arbor that could employ as many as 95 people. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced that Nelson Interactive, a subsidiary of the Nelson Family of Companies, will be receiving a $400,000 performance-based grant from the state as well as a one-time grant from the city of Ann Arbor.
“There are hotbeds of the gaming industry throughout the U.S. that produce the talent pool that we’re looking for, and we’ve identified one in Ann Arbor and at the University of Michigan,” said Courtney Dickson, vice president of marketing and strategic alliances at Nelson.
According to the MEDC, Ann Arbor beat out a competing site in Ohio for the new office, in part due to the incentives offered by the state and city governments.
Kathleen Fagan, a spokeswoman for the MEDC, said the state’s Business Development Incentive grant will be tied to the company employing the amount of local talent it claims to be interested in hiring. Specific performance benchmarks for the grant are not available yet, she said.
Nelson Interactive is still in the planning stages of opening the office and does not have a timeline for when the Ann Arbor site will start operating.
“We’re driving the process,” Dickson said.
“We are super excited and we don’t want to be hesitant in announcing that we have a project in the works, but we are still very much in the planning stages and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves either.”
Dickson said Ann Arbor was also identified as a location for expansion because there are Nelson Interactive clients in the area.
Ann Arbor SPARK worked with Nelson on securing what the MEDC said is a one-time grant from the city, and Dickson said city officials have been extremely helpful in encouraging Nelson to choose Ann Arbor for its first Midwest office.
However, city spokeswoman Joanna Saterlee said the city is not engaged with a local request for a grant with Nelson Interactive. No grants for the company have come before the City Council.
Representatives from Ann Arbor SPARK declined to comment, citing Nelson Interactive’s desire to keep the specifics of the company’s Ann Arbor office under wraps for now.
Nelson Interactive has not leased any property in the Ann Arbor area, but the company has been working with Realtor Bob Andrus of Michigan Commercial Real Estate.