Hundreds of people gathered at the History Boy Theatre in Jefferson, Iowa Saturday night to hear from Silicon Valley tech leaders about how they are working with Pillar Technology in an effort to bring jobs to rural Iowa.
“There is nobody focused on rural America,” said Linc Kroeger of Pillar Technology, and organizer of the event. “I’m involved in so many urban development plans, which are so important and we need to do, but rural America’s been left for dead.”
Over a dozen tech leaders from across the country traveled to Jefferson to speak at the event including U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, Linkedin co-founder Alan Blue, and Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott. They spoke about working with Pillar Technology to help bring high-paying tech jobs to Jefferson.
“The digital revolution is something that every community should and can participate in,” Khanna said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t believe that communities across the country like Jefferson. The innovation is here. What we need to do is make sure that young folks have the opportunities to say in Jefferson and participate in the new economy. “
Shortly after Khanna spoke, Kevin Scott of Microsoft took the stage to give his thoughts on Pillar’s initiative in Jefferson.
“I believe this work can give young people in rural parts of the country, in Iowa, an opportunity to stay where they want to be,” Scott said. “To have opportunities for really great tech jobs, to build lives for themselves, and to build an economic foundation for themselves and for the community.”
Scott then announced that his family foundation is contributing to Governor Kim Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa initiative as well as making a donation to Iowa Central Community College.
New Forge location will bring jobs to Jefferson
Pillar plans to open a $1.7 million office — known as the Forge — in Jefferson sometime in June 2019. Currently, Pillar has just under 70 employees in the state of Iowa and expects to add 25-30 more employees with the new location in Jefferson, with hopes that many of those employees are already located in Jefferson.
In addition to opening a new Forge in Jefferson, Pillar Technology will be launching a software development training program in collaboration with Greene County Community School District and local community colleges.
Students in Greene County will be able to take tech classes during high school tech classes as Jefferson’s new program. They will then take a year of community college—at either DMACC or Iowa Central Community College—followed by six months or more in Pillar Technology’s own apprenticeship program.
If successful, Kroeger hopes to replicate the strategy, using it as a model to bring tech jobs to rural towns across the state. Pillar already has plans to open a third Iowa-based Forge in Council Bluffs.
Pillar Technology acquired by Accenture Industry X.0 -August 20, 2018