Jefferson takes big leap forward with opening of Forge

It was a big day in Jefferson on Saturday as the community celebrated the launch of the first rural Forge, a tech training center designed to help grown and retain tech talent in rural Iowa.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, executives from Accenture and other state and national business leaders spoke at the Jefferson Community Center to celebrate the grand opening and some of the major partnerships for the Jefferson project.

“The forge that we’re celebrating today provides more than just a home for innovation,” said Reynolds. “It is truly is a launchpad for careers. It’s a hub for lifelong learning and it’s a model for small towns all across this state and across our country.”

The opening of Jefferson’s Forge is just part of a larger coalition focused on bringing tech jobs to Greene County.

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 that go through the program will enroll in fourth months of tuition-free software development training provided by Accenture and designed to prepare rural area students for high-demand, software development jobs in Iowa.

“If we can do this in Jefferson, Iowa, why can’t we replicate this around the country, around the state and other rural communities,” said Khanna. “This is how we’re going to lead the 21st century. This is how we’re going to make sure America stays ahead in technology.”

U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, speaks to a crowd of nearly 400 at the Jefferson Community Center, Saturday, Sept. 7.

In June, Corteva Agriscience announced plans to fund 25 scholarships for students in DMACC’s Computer Languages program. Safura Kahn, a student from Glidden, is the program’s first scholarship recipient. Kahn is hoping to learn new software and technology skills that will propel her into a career in engineering.

In addition to a partnership with DMACC and Corteva, Jefferson has partnered with The Tech Interactive, a science and technology center in San Jose, California. The Tech Interactive conducted the first of several professional development seminars with 52 teachers in Greene County’s K-12 schools back in June. The Tech specializes in “design challenge learning,” a combination of project-based learning and engineering design that helps students develop the problem-solving skills necessary for 21st century jobs.

The list of Jefferson’s tech partners within the initiative continued to grow Saturday night, when Facebook announced plans to provide student digital marketing scholarships for DMACC students.

Previous coverage

Pillar Technology connects with Silicon Valley leaders to bring tech jobs to Jefferson -Dec. 10, 2018

Corteva partners with Accenture to provide scholarships in rural Iowa -June 6, 2019

Startup Pitch Day at Jefferson Forge will award $25k to a local startup -Aug. 27, 2019