Software company tells plans to expand to Jefferson

Regional academy is critical part of the plan

The first conversation about a new high school and adjacent regional academy last October included the possibility of a software company locating an office in Jefferson. As the plan has developed, computer science has been identified as one four vocational strands at the career academy.

The software company was named today.

Pillar Technology, a software development company based in Columbus, OH, has signed a letter of intent to open an office in downtown Jefferson.

In addition to opening an office in Jefferson, Pillar Technology intends to begin a software development workforce training program in collaboration with the Greene County Community School District, other neighboring K-12 school districts, and Iowa Central Community College. This training program will be a strand of education in the regional academy proposed in the April 3 school bond referendum.

Loation of Pillar Technology’s ‘forge’

The project will include a $1.5 million renovation to the building located at 204-206 E. State St, west of the Sierra Community Theatre. The entirety of the historic building would be renovated into premium office space, which Pillar Technology refers to as “the forge.”

 

The first floor of the building will be split between a training bay and an open office bay that can double as a venue for community events. The second floor will be an open office that can also serve as a co-working space.

Pillar Technology has signed a letter of intent indicating its plans to move forward with the project. Although the company considered dozens of communities it ultimately chose Jefferson due to the community’s progressive approach to reinvesting in itself and setting the state for future growth. Of note was the recent downtown façade improvements and the planning done through the Vision 2020 process.

Pillar forecasts 25-30 fulltime jobs coming to Jefferson because of this project. The training program will start with outreach to area K-12 schools to start teaching coding and computer science skills at middle school grades or earlier. The company describes learning coding as similar to learning a foreign language; the earlier a student begins, the easier it is.

When students reach high school, Iowa Central will offer opportunities for students to continue advancing their coding and computer science skills at the regional academy. By the time students graduate from high school, they will be able to apply for an intensive 8-18 month training program Pillar has created.

Pillar is working with sponsors with the intention to cover the vast majority of costs so that students can complete the program with little to no student debt. At the end of the training program students can apply for a fulltime position with Pillar Technology. The estimated starting salary is $55,000-$60,000.

“This will truly be a catalytic project for the community of Jefferson and rural Iowa as a whole,” said Pillar founder and CEO Linc Kroeger. “We intend to open multiple offices in rural locations, but this project represents our first foray into rural locations, and it will serve as a flagship office for our new endeavor.”

Pillar Technology currently has four locations – Columbus, Ann Arbor, MI, Palo Alto, CA, and Des Moines – and employs more than 300 persons.

A critical component to Pillar’s choice of Jefferson is the planned regional academy, which will allow students from around the region to participate in the company’s training program and a new partnership with Iowa Central Community College.

The letter of intent is not binding. Should the bond referendum not get the 60 percent voter approval needed to construct the new high school and academy, Pillar is not obligated to come to Jefferson. Linc Kroeger, CEO and founder of Pillar Technology, said, “The local Iowa Central regional academy was one of the main reasons Jefferson was selected. If the bond referendum doesn’t pass, we would take a step back and work with the community to see if we could create another approach.”

The building selected is the former Oddfellows Hall. Chris Deal is working with a variety of local groups and organizations to help coordinate the renovation project.
“I got to know Linc and Pillar when I helped design their Des Moines office,” Deal said. “When Linc mentioned that they wanted to expand into rural Iowa, I thought Greene County could be an ideal spot, and that this could really be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our community.”

Deal said he had originally anticipated working with an outside developer on the project but quickly learned that traditional developer financing didn’t fit. After some further research into funding sources, Deal found a mix, including historic tax credits, state grants, and federal loans that seemed to work.

In this setup, Deal will be the developer but is foregoing any profit during Pillar’s long-term lease, which he says has made the project feasible. “It’s required a unique approach – and a lot of work – to bring this together, but my family and I really believe it’s worth all the effort, knowing the potential impact this could create.” He continued, “This is truly a community effort. It doesn’t happen without the support of the city of Jefferson, Greene County Development Corporation, and several other local companies that are coming together to ensure we don’t miss this opportunity. It’s been inspiring to be a part of it, and we’re excited for what the future could bring here in Greene County.”

Pillar Technology prepared a video to introduce itself to Jefferson.

Future Ready Iowa from Pillar Technology on Vimeo.

To learn more, visit the company’s website at www.pillartechnology.com

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