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The Journal Gazette

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Saturday, December 08, 2018 1:00 am

Tech firm picks city for software center

Rural Sourcing plans to hire up to 130 within 3 years

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

An Atlanta-based tech company will invest more than $3 million and create up to 130 high-wage jobs in Fort Wayne in the next three years, the company announced Friday.

Rural Sourcing, which employs more than 500, operates five other software development centers in the U.S., providing IT outsourcing services including software development, cloud applications and DevOps. This will be the company's first foray into the Midwest.

The announced investment amount could be misleading. Rural Sourcing officials say they typically invest $35 million on average in a city during the first five years after establishing an operation there.

The company is now hiring for web, app and database developers, cybersecurity specialists, business analysts, project managers and more. Interested applicants can apply online. Annual salaries range from $47,000 to $120,000, depending on the position and the worker's experience, CEO Monty Hamilton said.

Hamilton described the investment as “a momentous milestone in (the) company's journey.” He joined local and state officials, who made the announcement in a suite at Parkview Field.

“You guys looked really great on paper,” Hamilton said, adding that it wasn't until after a team visited Fort Wayne that company officials could be sure it would be the right fit. “The civic leaders, the educational leaders, blew us away.”

With unemployment rates about as low as experts believe they can go, Rural Sourcing's strategy includes partnering with high schools, colleges and universities to train today's students to become tomorrow's tech sector workers.

Sister Elise Kriss, president of the University of Saint Francis, attended Friday afternoon's announcement. She welcomed the opportunities Rural Sourcing will offer her students.

“The universities, including Saint Francis, are anxious for these kinds of partnerships,” including internships, she said. “For the future of higher education, we need to do this all the time.”

In addition to helping train the future workforce, Hamilton wants to help persuade Fort Wayne natives who have moved away for tech jobs to come back home.

And, he said, the company wants to provide opportunities for minorities, veterans and others to transition to the field from other industries.

“We give people that first chance at a second career,” he said.

Edmond O'Neal, president of Northeast Indiana Works, also attended Friday afternoon's announcement. His organization will provide Rural Sourcing with hiring and training assistance.

“There are still a good number of people not connected to the labor market,” O'Neal said. Others, he said, might be working part time or in jobs that aren't considered careers.

Northeast Indiana Works will train people to become qualified for the Rural Sourcing jobs, O'Neal said.

Mayor Tom Henry, who participated in the announcement, said Rural Sourcing officials had many options and didn't have to choose the Summit City. But he's glad they did. Henry said the employer will make the city even more attractive to prospective residents.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who thanked Hamilton for investing in the state, noted that Indiana has the fastest-growing tech sector in the nation.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Rural Sourcing up to $2.25 million in conditional tax credits based on the company's job creation plans. The city of Fort Wayne will consider additional incentives.

The company is working with Greater Fort Wayne Inc. to find temporary office space as it searches for a long-term location.

Among the factors that sold Hamilton on Fort Wayne was the existing workforce and local quality of life.

“You can tell,” he said, “people enjoy living here.”

sslater@jg.net