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I.T. Grows in Blacksburg; 1901 Group Expanding & Hiring

Robbie Harris

Of all the ground-breaking innovations Internet technology has brought to the workplace, the best may be, that today’s I.T. employees can be based anywhere.  And that means more high-tech jobs in rural communities, far from the cost and crowds of big cities. A Blacksburg cloud computing company just broke ground on a second building for its growing workforce, more than doubling its work space. And it’s looking for hundreds more employees.

It's called the 1901 Group, an homage to the first company to use an assembly line to increase production of its cars.  Samuel E. Olds, first mass produced his Oldsmobile years before Henry Ford, changing the way cars were made. “So, we imbue all of that into the work we do, how do we use automation, how do we use processes to just be more efficient.” says Paul Wilkensen, Executive vice president of business development.

In this incarnation, there are no roads. 1901 Group’s business is in the clouds, so to speak. It provides cyber security and server support to huge government and private sector organizations, like NASA, Department of Justice, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as ‘Obama Care,’ just to name a few.

1901 Group Founder and CEO, Sonu Singh, studied industrial engineering at Virginia Tech. He says, he grew up watching jobs head overseas and thought, there’s no reason high tech industry couldn’t locate here, where the companies have access to talent and employees can have a great quality of life. “I think Blacksburg and the surrounding areas are pretty unique and with the salary levels that we offer, you can have a single household income and still have a good quality of life, you can buy a house, the school systems are great. There’s a lot of outdoor activities. So, it just feels like the region has been historically undeveloped in terms of businesses like this.”

Singh says, the company is looking to add hundreds more people to their diverse work force. They don’t care as much about where you’ve been, but where you’regoing. You need a background in IT, but they’ll train you on the job.  Plans are to add five more buildings over the next decade and employees to fill them.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.