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Finding success in the ‘burbs

Suburban communities and developers didn’t let conventional wisdom stop them from entering the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes: They made their own pitches, even though most experts believe Jeff Bezos and his crew want an urban location.

That may be true. But check out this fast-growing tech company whose executives saw no need to chase the crowd into the city.

I’m talking about Kronos, a human-resources software firm that will celebrate its headquarters move next week. The company relocated about 1,500 employees from smaller digs in Chelmsford into roughly 500,000 square feet at the Cross Point complex in Lowell. To some, the property is still Wang Towers , a reminder of when once-giant computing dinosaurs loomed along the ring roads of Route 128 and Interstate 495.


Kronos pledges to add 400 local jobs in Lowell over the next five years. It completed $68 million of renovations, splitting the cost with landlord Anchor Line Partners. Kronos received significant public assistance in return: $8 million in state tax incentives and $4.9 million in city tax breaks.

The company’s entire history is in the suburbs. Executives decided its future should be there, too. They say they’ve found no shortage of talent. The relatively short commutes make it easier for employees to see their families. There’s the rent: Good office space in Waltham and Burlington is much pricier than Lowell, and forget about Boston and Cambridge. Plus, UMass Lowell has proven to be a fertile pipeline, with more than 300 graduates ending up in Kronos at one time or another.

Many of the dinosaurs that once dominated the suburban tech scene are extinct today. But firms like Kronos are rising to take their place.

Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at jon.chesto@globe.com and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.