WHITE HALL – The I-79 Technology Park keeps growing to live up to its name and will be adding 100 new jobs.
Maryland-based IT firm Sparksoft officially opened its new location in White Hall Monday on NASA Boulevard with a ribbon cutting. While it is adding to the group of other technology-based companies also in the 5000 Building, Sparksoft’s CEO believes the company will also add to the professional workforce in West Virginia.
“We looked at a lot of different places, different areas of Virginia as well as Pennsylvania and a couple other states as well,” said Michael Finkel, CEO of Sparksoft. “Fairmont, from a location perspective seems reasonable, and also we figured there’s a talent pool here; a lot of people graduating from universities, a lot of IT folks we can get our hands on.”
At the ribbon cutting event Monday, Finkel elaborated on his decision to bring the company to West Virginia. The Marion County site becomes the fourth Sparksoft office throughout the country, with representation in four states. He said he is planning to hire at least 100 people to work in the new office, and the area offers opportunity for growth for both his company and West Virginia.
“We want to continue to grow here,” Finkel said in a speech at the ribbon cutting. “We’ve invested in a large space, we want to see more people here... We want to bring a lot of folks here, we want to make sure people stay local and we want to build out operations here as big as we can.”
Finkel said he learned about the advantages and benefits of running a business in West Virginia, including the source of talent, during two years of talks with the West Virginia Development Office.
“Everything revolves around talent in the IT industry and you know there are various places around the country that their talent is tapped out,” said Brad Sergent, manager of the West Virginia Development Office. “Here, right down the road from West Virginia University, across the street almost from Fairmont State, they’re going to be turning out quality individuals.”
Dan Michael, president of Innovative properties, which owns the 5000 NASA Building and others in the park, said he is happy to see new industry move in. He sees first hand how the addition of technology companies impacts the workforce.
“I think it’s great because it’s transforming our workforce here from blue collar to white collar,” Michael said. “Its just transforming North Central West Virginia to more hi-tech companies.”
Sergent and his staff manage several programs that make it attractive for businesses to plant roots in a new community, a proposition that often requires a lot of capital.
“We do have some incentives that come from West Virginia primarily laid around tax credits,” Sergent said. “Then we’ve got some low cost loans, help try to make connections to find employees and things like that.
“At the end of the day, our job is to create jobs.”
State Secretary of Commerce Ed Gaunch also spoke at the ribbon cutting, and said the addition Sparksoft and other tech companies is a testament to the trends West Virginia is currently experiencing. He said more people will come to or stay in the state to work in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
“I feel like we’re about to see a renaissance in the state of West Virginia of many of the industries that were here before,” Gaunch said. “These are innovative, industry-leading companies coming to West Virginia, investing in the opportunities that they see here, investing in our people and the competitive advantages that they generate for their companies.”
Finkel said he is excited to grow Sparksoft in West Virginia by hiring more employees to further the industry. He also said the support the state provided has helped him get Sparksoft implemented, and believes his work in West Virginia will benefit both his company and the people living in Fairmont.
“Feels great, this office was a long time coming,” Finkel said. “We got support from Dan Michael and West Virginia to help us come in. They’ve been supporting us in many different aspects from connections to some funding. So this state has just been great to us.”
Sparksoft provides technology services in testing, development, security and program development. Positions the company is looking to fill includes various information technology positions, such as developers and tests, as well as business analysts, writers and graphic artists.
Prior to Monday’s ribbon-cutting, Sparksoft had been in temporary offices since May 2018 in the tech park.