Initiative to Bring High-Tech Jobs to Rural Iowa

Des Moines Register writer Donnelle Eller reported recently that, “The modern office in this once-dilapidated building gives graduating high school students hope they can find high-paying tech jobs in the town where they grew up, leaders said [earlier this month].

“‘People shouldn’t have to move. People shouldn’t have their only choice be to get out the community that they love,’ said U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat.

“Khanna and others have been working to connect this rural Iowa community of 4,200 to Silicon Valley tech leaders to provide training for jobs typically found in large cities.”

The Register article noted that, “On [Sept. 7th], the initiative to bring high-tech jobs to rural Iowa took a major step, with Pillar Technology, an Accenture company with a Des Moines office, opening its $1.8 million center in Jefferson.

“Gov. Kim Reynolds said Pillar Technology’s new office ‘provides more than just a home for innovation.’

“‘It’s a launchpad for careers, it’s a hub for lifelong learning and it’s a model for small towns across our state and country,’ she told about 400 Jefferson residents at the town’s community center.”

Ms. Eller indicated that, “Pillar Technology is trying to boost the state’s tech pool, and is partnering with Jefferson to provide intense training that begins at high school, moves through community college, and ends with four months of free training at the Jefferson Forge and a shot at a paid six-month apprenticeship at the Jefferson Forge academy.

“Linc Kroeger, a Pillar executive, said the fast-track training should position graduates for good-paying jobs — with little debt — at either Pillar or another company.”

The Register article added that, “A long list of California tech companies and entrepreneurs — Microsoft’s Kevin Scott, LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue, venture capitalist Greg Sands and Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse — have committed personally or through their companies to help Jefferson’s effort.

Khanna said he believes the technology explosion that’s centered on the West Coast can help other parts of the U.S. Silicon Valley companies, he and others say, struggle with fierce competition for workers and high costs to work and live.”

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