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Exclusive: Why this Nashville IT staffing veteran thinks the secret to tech talent is in West Virginia

Jeff Martin knows the supply of technology talent often doesn't match demand, in Nashville and many markets like it. He learned that from his years spent running Synergy Systems, a locally based staffing firm that helped clients, primarily based around here, overcome that very challenge.

Now he's got a different solution, and the key to it is five hours up the road: Huntington, W.Va.

Martin has partnered with experienced health care and technology executive Lee Farabaugh to launch Core10, a "hereshoring" business focused on the financial technology industry. The company will employ a team of developers in Huntington, W.Va., along with senior- level talent here in Nashville, who will work on a variety of financial- tech projects, both for companies in the financial space and for those in other industries that have financial components.

Martin, Core10's CEO, said he'd initially planned to continue running Synergy and Core10 as parallel businesses, but soon realized fully pivoting to the new brand made more sense as part of Synergy's maturation and his goal of providing "a more valuable proposition."

"We can pay a very competitive wage in Huntington and still provide value for our clients," said Farabaugh, Core10's chief operating officer.

Martin and Farabaugh said there is a pipeline of talent in Huntington, but many of the city's young tech workers who would otherwise choose to stay are forced to leave in search of more opportunity. Core10 aims to give those workers the jobs they want closer to home, while also providing a better option for companies that might otherwise outsource development overseas. Keeping the talent in the United States cuts down on the cultural and time zone barriers that arise when working with teams in Eastern Europe or Asia, the pair said.

But Core10 will also employ senior-level talent in the Nashville area (the company's offices are in Brentwood), and, ideally, give the people it employs the chance to work with leaders in a fast-growing technology sector. The company's advisors include Joe Maxwell, a well-known Nashville serial entrepreneur who's led and sold multiple fintech businesses, and Jim McKelvey, co-founder of mobile payments giant Square.

“Core10 is doing one of my favorite things: solving multiple problems at once by connecting what’s already there,” McKelvey said in a news release. “To start, they know there’s a shortage of opportunities for technologists in certain geographic areas. So they’re helping those folks partner with value-focused tech companies that need reliable talent but can’t find it domestically. Everybody wins — including the communities at the heart of some of our smaller and mid-sized cities.”

The new company, which launched this summer, has a small team on the ground in Huntington, but plans to grow it to a couple dozen once the company's office space there is built out. The Nashville-based team will also grow, Martin said, and Core10 expects to employ around 70 people overall by 2018.

 

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Reprinted with permission courtesy of the Nashville Business Journal.

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