Tech training center to open in Greater Grand Crossing

California’s Bitwise Industries is opening a facility in Chicago to train apprentices after getting $80 million in new funding. It hopes to hire 100 people in a year.

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A Bitwise Industries location in Bakersfield, California. Bitwise trains and pays apprentices from “underestimated” communities and places them in jobs.

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A California-based company that aims to diversify the ranks of tech workers said Tuesday that it will open a training center in Greater Grand Crossing on the South Side, where it hopes to have 100 people employed within a year.

With $80 million in new backing, Bitwise Industries said it will operate at 7421 S. South Chicago Ave. Spokesman Santiago Villegas said the roughly 6,000-square-foot facility should be ready by late April.

It will be a temporary location. Villegas said the company intends to find a larger home in the same neighborhood.

Bitwise trains and pays apprentices from what it calls “underestimated” communities and places them in jobs with local companies, governments and organizations. It offers services in Salesforce, DocuSign and other platforms.

The company’s latest funding includes support from Kapor Center, Motley Fool, Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Citibank. It also has gotten backing from Chicago-based nonprofit P33.

The Chicago location is near the Comer Education Campus, which includes a college prep high school, and it will work with the Comer Science & Education Foundation. Villegas had no details about a permanent location.

But Emily Emmerman, project manager for the Comer foundation, said her organization would include Bitwise as part of a hub for workforce and wellness training called the Xchange. The foundation plans to build the hub on vacant property at 7301-69 S. South Chicago Ave.

With its latest funding, Bitwise has raised more than $200 million, Villegas said. He said Bitwise has 10 locations in the U.S., including four in California, and hopes to have 20 locations in a few years. The company is not connected to Bitwise Asset Management, which provides crypto index funds.

The additional funding “validates our model and makes it possible for us to roll out our proven approach into other parts of the country,” said Jake Soberal, Bitwise Industries co-CEO and co-founder. “Bitwise has been an agent of transformation for cities and people alike, delivering unmatched results for the tech industry, businesses and the communities we serve.”

The company said it has provided training for more than 10,000 individuals who might not have considered working in tech fields. It said 80% of its apprentices who complete the program go on to tech employment.

Part of its mission is real estate development. The company has renovated more than a million square feet of vacant and blighted space in other cities.

“Bitwise has a track record of removing barriers that have prevented talented individuals from securing quality jobs in one of the fastest growing industries in the world,” said Greg Mooney, president of the Comer foundation. “These are high-growth, high-wage jobs that enable companies, schools, and local residents to succeed in the digital economy.”

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