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Tech companies welcome plan to open six-year high schools

Updated: April 1, 2012 8:16AM



Local tech companies welcomed the city’s plan to create six-year high schools that would award students associate degrees in tech fields when they graduate.

SingleHop, a web hosting provider with data centers at 601 W. Polk and in Elk Grove Village, would hire grads for jobs such as datacenter technicians, system administrators, system developers and network engineers, company officials said.

“I love the idea of local talent coming from an organization with such strong founding partners,” said Andy Pace, chief operating officer at SingleHop, which like other data centers houses web servers, network services and storage equipment for other companies. “We work in a very specific field of technology that requires not only a sound educational background but a willingness to learn as well.”

Steve Wilneff, owner of TheGotSpot.com, a daily deals site in the northern and western suburbs, said of the plan: “It’s a great concept.”

Wilneff hires only independent contractors as his web staff, but he said he would “be open and interested in hiring people from this program” for jobs such as programming, web design, code writing and web innovation. Those jobs typically pay $50,000 a year to start. Hourly contractors who are prized for their programming skills make $200 to $250 an hour.

“It’s very appealing if you get a person who is properly trained, who can come to work at the start, work with the systems you already have and grow with your company — as opposed to people whose skill sets require that the company modify its web or programming requirements,” Wilneff said.

Ed Longanecker, executive director of regional tech advocate and nonprofit TechAmerica, agreed the new grads could be in demand.

“There are more jobs than talent to fill the opportunities in our state, and certainly the projected number of high skilled positions in the years to come,” he said.

Chicago saw 124 digital startups launch last year — a 51 percent increase from 2010, according to data provided in January by Chicago venture and startup sources. TechNexus, Chicago’s five-year-old tech collaborative and incubator space, announced in January that more than 130 companies have grown at its facility at 200 S. Wacker Drive, and those companies have gone on to create 400 jobs and to raise $75 million in investment capital.



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