U.S. Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17th), whose district includes the headquarters of Apple, Google and Tesla in Silicon Valley, was among several government and business leaders, entrepreneurs, economic programs officers and educators who made their way to the Appalachian Region on Monday, March 13. They went to celebrate how Interapt, a company headquartered in Louisville, is successfully collaborating to train unemployed and under-employed individuals in coal country to code.
Speakers including Rep. Khanna, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-5th), Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, Executive Director Earl Gohl of the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the 3rd United States Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith will kick off the event to celebrate the success of Interapt’s training program in Eastern Kentucky, which has 35 graduates currently interning with Interapt. The event, which was hosted by Interapt, was being held at Big Sandy Community Technical College (BSCTC).
Ankur Gopal, CEO Interapt, runs the training program as part of his personal mission to show that high-tech careers can be filled by rural Americans even in the most economically depressed areas. The training program is part of a collaboration of over 70 regions who joined in the TechHire movement to connect fellow Americans to training in months not years for the more than 600,000 well-paid high tech jobs open throughout the U.S.
Over 800 people eligible in Eastern Kentucky applied to the the training program last year when the inaugural class was announced. Fifty students were selected to go through the 16-week paid training, which included teaching students several programming languages. Thirty-five individuals graduated in January. BSCTC provided direction and support to students who opted to choose alternative career paths. Those that graduated began a 16-week paid apprenticeship with Interapt to further refine their coding skills and polish basic business skills.
Monday’s event included a roundtable session. Economic development, workforce specialists entrepreneurs, and technology experts discussed building the next generation of workforce and entrepreneurship in “Silicon Hollow,” a term coined by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, KY-5th, who has actively supported Interapt’s program.
“It is promising to see Representatives Khanna and Rogers as well as technology and business leaders from Apple and Amazon taking notice. It is a good sign that the U.S. technology industry is ready to focus building their workforce talent in rural America,” Gopal said.