Perry, Iowa—Silicon Valley watch out. Some of the high-technology, high-paying jobs found in the Silicon Valley of California may be cropping up in Silicon Prairie or specifically, the Lincoln Corridor, a stretch of Lincoln Highway between Ogden, Jefferson and Carroll, Iowa. The DMACC Perry VanKirk Career Academy in Perry is ready to help prepare rural Iowa students for these computer software technology jobs by starting a Computer Languages Academy this fall term.
The Perry Center is offering a 30-credit, one-year diploma program in the
high-demand, high-paying software development field.
DMACC Perry VanKirk Center Director Eddie Diaz said the goal of the
private-public initiative is to empower, energize and encourage young people to build high-tech skills that allows them to pursue high-paying careers and while staying in their communities. DMACC, Iowa Central Community College, the State of Iowa and Pillar Technology, now part of Accenture, Corteva Agriscience and others decided high tech jobs can be created in rural Iowa.
Last September, a grand opening was held for Accenture’s Rural Forge, a global technology company, located a software development office in Jefferson. Des Moines, Columbus, Ohio and Ann Arbor, Michigan are also home to Forge locations.
Diaz said the target audience for the new Perry program are high school students from Adel-Desoto-Minburn, Dallas Center-Grimes, Ogden, Panorama, Perry and Woodward-Granger High Schools. He said adult students from the surrounding area are also encouraged to apply.
“There has been a significant interest from students,” Diaz said. “Students are excited about having the opportunity for a career track that was not as open to them before, especially given the fact that it will be low or no cost to most of them,”
He said the program is eligible for the Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship which covers any tuition gaps not covered by other federal and state grants for eligible Iowa residents enrolled in targeted, high-demand career and technical programs at DMACC. Additionally, in support of this initiative, the Rural Forge Scholarship was established in 2019 in support of the collaboration between Accenture and Corteva Agriscience to educate and train students in rural Iowa in high-demand, high-value software technology skills.
Diaz said most students in Perry will be able to take advantage of these programs and complete the program with no cost to them.
“It is an unbelievable opportunity to combine a promising career, zero or very low student loan debt, and staying close to home. Most students believe it must be too good to be true,” Diaz said.
According to Diaz, here’s how the high-tech jobs will be created in rural Iowa. Once students complete the Perry program, selected graduates will participate in a four-month commercial software development training program at the new Rural Forge. At the Jefferson facility, the company will help prepare the future workforce further develop their programming skills. Diaz said at the conclusion of the four months, the young professionals may be invited to be interviewed for jobs having a $50,000 to $60,000 starting pay with salaries ballooning to six figures quickly in the high-demand, high-paying careers.
“Linc created the vision for the project, coordinated the Rural Forge Scholarship, and has continued to support students throughout this process,” Dr. Lundstrom said. “This program, with Linc’s involvement, may change the future for rural communities like Perry, Carroll and Jefferson. He sees the potential and has rallied other influential players to deliver on the project.”