By Matt Masiel
At its founding, Missouri served as America’s junction, a place where North and South converged at the gateway to the untapped wonders of the West. Missouri was the starting point for America’s Manifest Destiny and its growth into the future.
Today, Missouri could be the springboard of a new frontier in the 21st century; only instead of driving covered wagons across the plains, today’s pioneers are launching tech startups that will help build the Missouri – and the America – of the future.
We’re right in the middle of what’s been dubbed the “Silicon Prairie,” which is essentially the Midwest’s very own Silicon Valley where new tech companies are starting up at a record pace. And Missouri’s leading the charge.
According to a study by the AIM Institute, a nonprofit that seeks to encourage technological development, three of the top ten best cities in the Midwest for tech startups are right here in Missouri – Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbia. In fact, Kansas City ranked 19th nationally for overall startup activity, according to a study by the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation.
In order for Missouri to reach its full potential and become a clear leader in technological innovation, we’ll need to provide more opportunities for Missourians to learn the necessary skills to design the technology of the future.
Thanks to a new innovation in alternative education called “coding bootcamps,” more people than ever before can learn how to code and engage in our burgeoning tech economy.
Coding bootcamps give students short-term, comprehensive training in coding for a fraction of the cost of traditional colleges. These programs give people the opportunity to become a coder in just a few weeks so that they can find a great job or establish their own startup.
The benefits to this can’t be overstated. After learning to code, you could become a software developer and make an average of around $75,000 in Kansas City, or $81,000 in St. Louis. This puts you far above the average median household income in Missouri, which was around $56,000 in 2016.
These bootcamps are not just located in major cities – they are scattered across the nation – including Disruption Institute in Kansas City and devCodeCamp in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And they’re usually very flexible and accommodating for students of all backgrounds.
DevCodeCamp, for example, accepts the GI Bill, giving veterans an excellent place to pursue higher learning after serving, and also offers free housing for students for the duration of the program.
Missouri and the Midwest has the opportunity to be a leader in technological innovation and startup activity. Coding bootcamps, such as Disruption Institute and devCodeCamp, give people across the country the ability to engage in this new frontier of development.
So, for anyone looking to be the next big innovator in the Silicon Prairie, I’ll offer some advice: find a coding bootcamp and help make Missouri the gateway to the future once again.
Matt Masiel is a veteran, and Principal at Screaming Eagle Development, LLC and President of Prime Building & Construction, LLC.