Development

The Nerdery, a Minneapolis-based tech company, is expanding in Kansas City

At a Wednesday afternoon news conference in downtown Kansas City, Tom O’Neill (right), president of the Nerdery, said his company will add jobs here. Joining him were Mayor Sly James and Pete Fullerton, CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.
At a Wednesday afternoon news conference in downtown Kansas City, Tom O’Neill (right), president of the Nerdery, said his company will add jobs here. Joining him were Mayor Sly James and Pete Fullerton, CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City. The Kansas City Star

A Minneapolis-based technology company on Wednesday announced an expansion of its downtown Kansas City operation that includes adding 100 jobs over the next five years.

The Nerdery has 33 employees here. After outgrowing its initial Kansas City office after two years, the company moved last month to a larger location in the historic Western Union Building at 100 E. Seventh St.

“We found Kansas City by hiring a couple of cool people here,” Tom O’Neill, the company’s president, said Wednesday.

Choosing Kansas City to house what was then Nerdery’s third corporate office was another story. O’Neill said support from the city was critical to seeing the tech community here as a place to land.

“I was a little skeptical we could get that much talent here,” O’Neill said.

Instead, O’Neill said he has found “great nerds” here. The company is looking for software developers and designers and quality assurance and project managers. Job postings are at the company’s website.

The Nerdery is hiring as Sprint, long a significant employer, is cutting its payroll, including more than 450 at its Overland Park headquarters.

“We’re hiring as fast as we can,” O’Neill said.

Established in the Twin Cities in 2003, the Nerdery opened a Chicago office in 2010 — and announced the opening of its Phoenix office last week.

The Nerdery has more than 500 employees who partner with clients on custom interactive projects, including websites, mobile and social media app development.

It also has held charitable overnight website builds for four local organizations: Kansas City Actors Theatre, KVC Health Systems, Rosedale Development Association and the Vasculitis Foundation.

Mayor Sly James said Kansas City can further support the Nerdery and the local tech community by helping the company become engaged and network with similar businesses or those that would benefit from its work.

“Frankly, the best thing the government can do is create an atmosphere that nurtures, and sometimes just get out of the way,” James said at a news conference to announce the expansion.

The Nerdery’s new home here, the Western Union building, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was constructed in 1920 and was designed with an open floor plan to serve the communications needs and technologies of Western Union.

O’Neill said the company plans to remodel the third and fourth floors with an open floor plan because that works best for its employees.

Tax incentives of nearly $2.3 million are available to the company based on its hiring here over the next five years, according to Wednesday’s announcement. The Nerdery’s project includes a $4.3 million capital investment and millions more in new wages for its growing workforce.

The Nerdery “is one more example that Kansas City is a hot spot for innovative companies that want to attract and retain top IT and tech talent,” said Bob Marcusse, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas City Area Development Council.

This is the second time in a week that a firm has announced expansion plans in Kansas City. Last week, Sungevity, a residential solar services company, said it will open a national sales and service center in January in downtown Kansas City. The company said it expects to create nearly 600 jobs over the next five years.

Sungevity chose Kansas City after a yearlong winnowing process that started with 50 cities. The company hopes to start here with about 50 employees.

To reach Steve Rosen, call 816-234-4879 or send email to srosen@kcstar.com.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at mdkcstar.

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