Accent Reduction Institute could have moved wherever it wanted last year when Menlo Innovations, which it shared office space with, relocated from its Kerrytown headquarters closer to the University of Michigan's campus. Instead, the 7-year-old company found another office in downtown Ann Arbor.
"This is home to us even though north of 98 percent of our clients are outside of southeast Michigan," says Judy Ravin
, president & founder of Accent Reduction Institute
. She adds that she and her executive team "love Ann Arbor. We are three University of Michigan graduates. We feel really connected to the community. It's a wonderfully business community."
Accent Reduction Institute's close ties to U-M were a major reason for it staying nearby. The university serves a pipeline of talent for the company, mostly in the form of interns. Accent Reduction Institute has hired three of its former interns over the last year, expanding its staff to 20 people and 3-4 interns each year.
"Our interns provide a wonderful pipeline for other interns," Ravin says. We get fantastic people to work with."
The Accent Reduction Institute provides accent reduction training programs for non-native English speakers so they can carry on communication seamlessly. It also develops English pronunciation software to help people eliminate language barriers while maintaining their unique cultural identity. Menlo Associates, the holding company for Menlo Innovations
, is still a major investor.
Ravin points out that the talent gap for major companies is driving the Accent Reduction Institute's recent growth. She explains that as more baby boomers retire the company's are scrambling to find their best talent to replace them in the workforce. That in turn is prompting Accent Reduction Institute to add to its staff. It is currently looking for up to two more linguistics professionals.
Source: Judy Ravin, president & founder of Accent Reduction Institutue
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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