It was my pleasure to accompany Maryn Pitt, Assistant City Manager of Turlock, on a visit to NutStar Software. Owners Gerrit Dorrepaal and Frank Ramos spent an hour with us to describe their company and take our local business survey. We learned much about this dynamic company which sells a tracking system software program to nut shellers/hullers and processors throughout the valley. In fact their program is so good that they are picking up inquiries from as far away as Georgia and Chile. I recently met Gerrit at the Modesto Chamber Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at California Gold Almonds.
NutStar has tremendous growth potential and has hired local software programmers proving that there is indeed local talent for companies like theirs (just not enough of them....yet). One thing I have learned throughout my career is that when you focus on supporting local companies, you learn pretty quickly that there are companies in their supply chain, including software companies, that are likely to locate in your area because they want to be close to their customers. NutStar Software is a very good example of this type of company.
So far Alliance staff and our partners throughout the county have conducted more than 70 surveys. We are getting really good data about what are the issues and concerns of our base employers. We are seeing definite patterns. One such pattern is that most companies are planning to expand, but they are having difficulty hiring skilled employees, such as software engineers. There is talent here in the county, but companies like NutStar Software would like to see much more. We intend to convey this data to local universities, technical training schools and other service providers. We have to connect the dots. Frank Ramos commented that he would like to see technical training schools focus on teaching key software programs like C Sharp which has become an industry standard rather than introducing students to a multitude of different programs. The idea is to become an expert in one standard program as opposed to becoming a dabbler in many. This is an interesting thought.
I would also like to point out that last week I had the opportunity to visit Bitwise Industries which has created a cool incubator of sorts for software companies in Fresno. It's not really a traditional incubator in that the companies in the space pay market rent and are viable, profitable companies. But what Jake Soberal, co-founder of Bitwise, has done is create a place where software companies can be collocated and have the ability to network and socialize together. There are 20 companies in the center already with several more on a waiting list. It would be very appealing to local software companies to have such a space here in the county. If it can happen in Fresno, it can happen here.
I am certain there are several software geeks working out of their home in Stanislaus County that would take advantage of a collocation opportunity.