U.S. Rep. Ro KhannaGov. Kim Reynolds

National attention expected for Forge opening

By DOUGLAS BURNS

d.burns@carrollspaper.com

California Congressman Ro Khanna sees so much potential in Jefferson he brought a delegation from Silicon Valley, the technology center of the nation, to visit the Greene County seat in December.

Just weeks later, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds spotlighted Jefferson as a model rural Iowa city in the Condition of State she delivered from the State Capitol.

They both have more to say about this, and will do it in person early next month for what organizers are calling a game-changing celebration for the city and region.

The two leaders — one Democrat, one Republican — will keynote a Saturday, Sept. 7, celebration of national interest as Jefferson and Pillar, part of Accenture Industry X.0, will be hosting an opening celebration of the first rural Pillar Forge, or branch, where businesses use advanced digital technologies to transform core industrial operations, worker and customer experiences, and business models.

Jefferson is adapting with a speed and breadth found in few other rural reaches of the nation, a revitalization that’s lured Pillar Technology, a software company, to the northeast side of the Square, where it is dramatically revitalizing an historic building into a modern tech center, said Ken Paxton, executive director of the Greene County Development Corp.

The festivities on Sept. 7 in downtown Jefferson will be held from 4 to 8:30 p.m.  

The schedule of events:

5 p.m. —  Free community barbecue on the courthouse square. 

4-7 p.m. — Forge open house tours. Be a part of a guided tour to experience the Forge; learn more about this state of the art technology facility and how it impacts the community by bringing educational and job opportunities for students in rural Iowa.  

4 and 5 p.m. — Parent/teacher information sessions held at the Sierra Community Theatre, located next to the Forge. Representatives from Pillar, Corteva, Iowa Central Community College and Des Moines Area Community College will present information on scholarship opportunities available in association with the opening of the Forge.

Any student in grades 7-12 and their parents will have an opportunity to understand the educational opportunities and where to plug into the learning pathway.  

7 to 8:30 p.m. — Bring your lawn chairs and find a prime seat for the main event on the courthouse square, headlined by Reynolds and Khanna.

“I believe in Jefferson and so should other Americans,” said Khanna, a California Democrat. “I’ve been to Jefferson personally, and I’m proud to add my name to the list of people who see it is a model for a 21st century small town.”

Reynolds, a Republican, in her Condition of the State speech in January, said a raft of development in Greene County over the past seven years is a model for rural Iowa revitalization.

“In places like Jefferson, Iowans are already showing that, with ingenuity and drive, our small towns can be as vibrant as they’ve ever been,” Reynolds said.

The Pillar branch will employ up to 40 people — a fact Reynolds enthusiastically referenced in her speech.

Khanna sees the Pillar move as an example of what can happen in other rural communities around the nation. Several Silicon Valley leaders maintain ongoing relationships with Jefferson.

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