Yahoo to add 80 jobs at Research Park site

Yahoo to add 80 jobs at Research Park site

CHAMPAIGN — Yahoo plans to add 80 positions in the University of Illinois Research Park in the coming year, bringing employment at its Champaign office to nearly 200, a top company official said.

The Internet giant already is recruiting UI students for employment after graduation this spring, Senior Vice President Scott Burke said.

Plus, it's seeking professionals, generally with computer science degrees, to join one of the most innovative teams Yahoo has, Burke said.

Even a few Yahoo employees in Bangalore, India, are expected to transfer to Champaign as a result of the expansion, he added.

"We didn't tell them about the weather, though," Burke said, alluding to blowing snow and dropping temperatures that threatened to disrupt ceremonies heralding a new office here.

Yahoo broke ground Wednesday for a two-story, 40,000-square-foot building at First Street and Hazelwood Drive that it will lease from Fox-Atkins Development. That will replace the 24,000-square-foot office Yahoo now occupies at 2021 S. First St., C.

The Champaign office focuses on online digital advertising, which Burke said is a high-growth market critical to Yahoo's success.

The team here does work on all data systems powering Yahoo's "advertising ecosystem," he said.

Some Yahoo employees in Champaign work on Hadoop, a software system enabling the storage and large-scale processing of data.

Praising the creativity of the local office, Burke said the Champaign team won the company's annual "Hack Day" event, which gives teams 24 hours to implement an idea.

Employees in the Champaign office have filed for more than 50 patents, he said, and several hold "master inventor" status with the company, he said.

Burke said he was "really impressed with the loyalty" of Champaign employees, saying "we essentially have zero attrition here."

During lunch ceremonies at the I Hotel and Conference Center, UI Chancellor Phyllis Wise said Yahoo is the research park's largest full-time employer. She thanked Burke for the company's "true engagement and confidence in this community."

Yahoo was drawn to Champaign-Urbana in 2007 after Motorola, which employed many highly experienced software engineers, announced it was closing its local office.

Wise said the disappointment over Motorola's closing yielded to "greater excitement" over Yahoo coming here.

The chancellor said although she wasn't here at the time, the optimism about Yahoo's coming was certainly "well-placed."

Yahoo's investment in Champaign created a model for other companies to consider, provided internships for UI students and job opportunities for spouses of faculty recruited by the university, she said.

"We can't thank you enough for your confidence in what we are doing," Wise said.

The new Yahoo building, at 1908 S. First St., C, will be immediately south of the I Hotel.

"The goal is to be operational this fall, so there's a lot of work between now and then," said Laura Frerichs, director of the research park.

The new building will be "more densely populated" than Yahoo's existing office and will have smaller work spaces allowing for more "agile project management," she said.

Yahoo's local site director, Cathy Singer, described her team as a "smart, diverse group of people who work hard and have fun in the process."

A band made up of Yahoo employees played at Wednesday's ceremonies, and a video of local employees mentioned ping-pong tournaments, ice cream socials and Halloween parties for children of employees.

Sixty percent of local staff members are UI graduates, but the local office also recruits and employs people from all over the country, Singer said.

In addition to city incentives provided for the Yahoo expansion, the state of Illinois offered $2.8 million in tax credits through the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program and $120,000 in worker training through the Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP), said Andrew Moyer of the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Welcoming Yahoo's expansion, Champaign Mayor Don Gerard called the city "a great place to live" with "great entertainment" including street festivals with magicians and belly dancers. He also boasted that the community has "more potential per capita than anyplace else in the United States."

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MSJ66 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 9:02 am

Glad the city and state are giving them all these incentives since their NET income for 2013 was only $1.37 BILLION. Not sure how this company can survive without sucking taxpayer dollars from a city council all to willing to give away everyone elses money then cry about budgetary issues.

DAmac wrote on February 06, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Yahoo would find these kinds of incentives no matter where they are located.  In this case they will have 200 employees (80 new ones!), and I'm sure none of them are minimum wage kinds of jobs.  These are exactly the kinds of companies and jobs Champaign-Urbana should be trying to attract! Many of these dollars will flow back into our community in the form of home sales, taxes, auto sales, etc. making C-U a better place for all of us.

BlahBlahBlah2013 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 2:02 pm

And a decent alternative to offering incentives would be? Welcome to a competitive world. Bottom line is we can't just expect a company with an international presence to locate to Champaign without incentives. It's Champaign. We have no mountains. No beaches. No scenic beauty whatsoever, outside of an occassional rainbow over the corn fields . The roads are better suited for tanks than cars bc of all the potholes. Horrible weather 9 months out of the year. But what we do have is a huge pool of smart, talented potential job candidates. However, if we want to follow the path you suggest we will do as we have for the past 50 years. Bring smart, driven, and motivated young people to the U of I, educate them, and then promptly see them off to Chicago or any number of other larger cities that have much, much more to offer as far as lifestyle AND employment opportunities. That needs to change. Champaign has a handful of larger employers and they do a prettty dismal job at paying competetive wages. That needs to change as well. But it never will unless we have a diverse employer base.


sweet caroline wrote on February 06, 2014 at 11:02 am

It'd be good to know what positions these will be.  Are they all I.T.? 

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 06, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Maybe, Yahoo could be enticed to pay naming rights for Memorial Stadium; or better yet, the university? 

The hats pictured are cool.  Were they gifts from Yahoo?

BlahBlahBlah2013 wrote on February 06, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I'm excited about this news. I consider the tax incentives an investment and over time would expect there to be a decent return on these dollars. Don't want to give incentives for companies to locate to C-U? Then accept the fact that we will never grow and we will be dominated by mediocre employers who get by with paying below market salaries because there's a lack of competition. For example, Carle Clinic and Hospital, Hobbico, Health Alliance, etc... Champaign-Urbana needs professional jobs offered by major employers, just like Yahoo. These employers raise the bar for other employers, either directly or indirectly. This is good for local residents. Tax incentives are a reality and we either accept them or fall behind all the other cities that are willing to do what it takes. Champaign is FAR behind other college towns in attracting high profile companies. That needs to change.

I'm thrilled that Yahoo is expanding its presence in Champaign. I hope to see more of this type of thing in the near future.


Sid Saltfork wrote on February 06, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Let's be honest.  Yahoo came here because of the university.  The tax incentives were only parsley decorating the main course.  Were they necessary?  The necessity was never an issue in Yahoo's choice.  Still... the hats are cool.  They look good on State of Illinois university employees.  Too bad that Chancellor Wise is attending a private corporate board meeting instead of being on campus working as the Chancellor.  She could have received a free corporate hat also.  

Eula Hopkins wrote on February 24, 2014 at 7:02 am

This great news for UI students, I hope more jobs would come.