UPDATE 3/14/12 @ 8:10 p.m.
GALLIPOLIS, Ohio (WSAZ) -- High-tech jobs in rural Ohio -- that's not something you hear much because it doesn't happen often.
But, one company is working to change that by bringing advanced opportunities from more progressive areas back to a place they call home.
Gallipolis welcomed a ribbon-cutting for a company that's leading the way in turning Gallia County into a high-tech hub.
It's all a part of an initiative called the Digital River Project. BTS Software Solutions is a cutting-edge technology company based in Maryland. But on Wednesdaay, its CEO, a Gallia County native, was proud to bring a piece of his creation to his hometown.
With the snip of the scissors, Sean Lane brought a piece of his high-tech company to Gallipolis in a community where he grew up.
“I couldn't imagine it would be this easy to put a highly technical, DOD-focused, intelligence community-oriented business in the middle of rural Gallia County as it has been. It's been amazing,” Lane said.
And the journey for BTS Software Solutions from its home in Maryland to Gallia County was a quick one that started with a chat at a wedding last summer between childhood friends.
“I got to talking with Brian (Ratliff) and Sean and told them Gallia County needed help with economic development,” Gallipolis BTS Office Director Jodie McCalla said.
“It was a life-changing event as far as having Jodie at my wedding and turning mine and Sean's thinking around about what Gallia County had to offer,” BTS Director of Operations Brian Ratliff said.
“Our people in our community will make this company successful,” Lane said.
Located in the heart of downtown Gallipolis, BTS provides software features and 3G cellular service to the military in combat zones. It's providing local native Greg Parker the first opportunity in his career to put his software engineering degree to work at home.
“Most of my career has been spent traveling to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Greenville, Columbus," Parker said. "It's awesome working here. I've got so much extra time to myself that I don't know what to do. So, I put more time in here."
McCalla said, "I've worked in California, Florida and Arizona. Four years ago, I decided to come back to Gallipolis because there's no place like home. So, it's great to be an engineer and have a good job here and be successful."
Another great byproduct of BTS is it’s providing free Wi-Fi to downtown Gallipolis. So, folks can go to the City Park with their laptops, iPads or eReaders and enjoy the Wi-Fi for free.
BTS is starting out with five employees, but hopes to expand to 20 by the end of the year.
The donation was made Friday at the bank's main office in Gallipolis.
Founded last year, the Digital River Project is a non-profit organization that works to foster a culture of innovation, technological advancement and entrepreneurship in Gallia County.
The fund is available to new businesses that provide a unique offering to the residents of Gallia County. Property owners along the Digital River may also be eligible to receive funding for building improvements. The “Digital River” is defined as the 300-block of 2nd Avenue, and the portion of Court Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Gallipolis.
“The Digital River Project Fund was created to incentivize local entrepreneurs and business owners to make Gallia County their home and encourage them to revitalize the business district along the Digital River,” said Jodie McCalla, Digital River Project Chairperson. “We believe this community and its residents have much to offer and we hope to provide opportunities that revitalize our home town.”
All individuals and business owners interested in utilizing Digital River Project Funds can contact the Digital River Project committee chairperson, Jodie McCalla, by calling 740-441-7938.
A new company is coming to town, and they need you.
“It's not a huge metropolis where I'd expect that type of technology to be here,” Calvin Britton said.
Britton is a computer forensics major at Marshall University. Prior to now, he was thinking he'd had to leave the area to find a good-paying, high-tech job in his field. But, that's about to change with a new company called BTS-Software Solutions coming to Gallipolis.
“BTS stands for Battlefield Telecommunications Systems. They're a Maryland-based company, and they do software development for the government and private sector,” Gallia County Economic Development Director Melissa Clark said.
To explain what this company does in a very basic sense, they take the same 3G and 4G technology people use everyday and harness inside a box that can be mounted on top of any military transport vehicle, and then taken anywhere out on the battlefield for instant cell phone connection.
“To have a company like this that has these types of jobs available is phenomenal,” Brian Morgan said.
Morgan is an associate professor of Computer and Information Technology at Marshall. He says news of this company coming to the region will end the bad news he typically has to deliver to many students hoping to stay close to home.
“I'm very honest with our students if they want to get a good-paying job, they won't be able to stay in the Huntington area. They'll have to go to Columbus, Lexington, out of state,” Brian said.
BTS Software Solutions is just the beginning of a major project by Gallia County called the Digital River Project designed to market the area to recruit even more high-tech companies and improve the overall quality of life.
BTS Software will set up in the old First National Bank building on the square in downtown Gallipolis. The University of Rio Grande is also planning to start a curriculum to train students in this type of national security software development.
Interested applicants can contact Jodie McCalla at: jodie.mccalla@unleashBTS.com