General Motors takes the first major step today toward bringing all of its information-technology functions back under the auto maker’s wing by opening what it calls an “innovation center” in Austin, TX, expected to employ 500 people.

“We want IT to keep up with the imagination of our GM business partners, and to do that, we plan to rebalance the employment model over the next three years so that the majority of our IT work is done by GM employees focused on extending new capabilities that further enable our business,” GM Chief Information Officer Randy Mott says in a statement.

Mott revealed GM’s plan to in-source its IT in July. As one of industries biggest IT services purchasers, the auto maker principally sourced the function from Hewlett-Packard. HP bought GM’s former IT unit EDS in 2008 for a reported $13.9 billion. GM spun the unit off in the 1990s.

GM’s plan to move IT in-house reportedly would bring 90% of those employees, such as software developers, project managers, database experts, business analysts and other information-technology professionals, to the auto maker.

GM says it chose Austin as the first of several new U.S. locations for an IT innovation center because of the city’s standing as a hub for the activity. According to the May 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Report, 46,000 professional with the IT skills GM needs live in the area.

“The next generation of IT workers, the talented visionaries we want contributing at the Innovation Center, are being trained at top computer science schools in Texas and surrounding states,” Mott says. “The IT Innovation Centers are critical to our overall IT business strategy and transformation.”

jamend@wardsauto.com