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Outsourcing to Oklahoma?

IT services firm Ciber aims to create 200 jobs in Oklahoma City as part of a plan to open several low-cost "made in America" centers.

In another example of U.S. tech companies seeking to offer low-cost alternatives to offshoring, systems integrator Ciber has opened a facility in Oklahoma City.

Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Ciber said the Oklahoma City site is the first of several low-cost, "made in America" application development centers it plans to open in 2005 and 2006. The company said it aims to create roughly 200 new jobs in Oklahoma City and upwards of 1,000 new jobs around the country, as additional "Cibersites" open. The Oklahoma City Cibersite opened Thursday.

"The creation of low-cost, domestic development centers provides Ciber's clients with new opportunities to leverage today's complex global sourcing options," Ciber Chief Executive Mac Slingerlend said in a statement. "There are many American labor markets outside the traditional technology centers that have skilled but underutilized IT (information technology) workers who can get IT projects done faster and cheaper."

A number of U.S. tech companies are bidding to win dollars that might otherwise flow to lower-wage countries like India by locating domestic operations in places other than technology corridors such as San Francisco and Boston. Start-up Rural Sourcing, for example, has set up two . Software development company Decision Design operates on the outskirts of Chicago and just announced new office space on the fringe of Silicon Valley.

These companies are responding to the growing interest in shipping high-skilled work abroad. Offshoring holds out the potential for significant cost savings, but the arrangements aren't always perfect. Possible problems with offshore set-ups include cultural differences and communication challenges.

Ciber has offices in 17 countries and about 8,000 employees.

Midsize U.S. cities with lower-cost attributes "often have large populations of military, retirees and students, many of whom have not only similar technical education as overseas IT workers, but often have more experience," Slingerlend said.

Cibersite employees will be paid less than the national average, but they will earn more than their overseas counterparts, the company said.