Program will try to connect veterans, tech community

The Speak Easy is spearheading a new program meant to help Indianapolis fill its growing need for tech workers by connecting veterans with companies looking for the kinds of training they received in the military.

Called Tech Warriors, the program is designed to provide current and former members of the armed forces with steeply discounted co-working membership rates as well as coaching and job training. And it will host events to educate the tech community about hiring veterans.

Douglas Karr, CEO of DK New Media LLC and a Navy veteran who has space at the Speak Easy’s downtown location, will be a mentor for the program. He said there’s “a real great natural fit between veterans and the tech community.”

Members of the military today “go through intensive tech training. Almost everything they do is technology-related. They are ready-built to assume positions in the tech space,” Karr said. “But we’re not recruiting them. There’s no active overlap between the two communities.”

Tech Warriors kicks off next week with a panel discussion that will include Karr as well as Marine Corps veteran John Qualls, president of Eleven Fifty Academy, and Army veteran Tom Gorup, director of security operations at Rook Security LLC.

Former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a former Marine who serves on the Indiana Veterans’ Affairs Commission, and Matt Hall, the city’s director of veterans services, will also participate in the discussion.

“Veterans come to the tech workforce with a unique set of skills that distinguish them from other applicants,” Ballard said in a statement about the program. “Many have worked in highly technical roles, under tremendous pressure.

“Veterans from each service branch undergo rigorous training and must demonstrate incredible attention to detail,” he said. “In my work with Indiana veterans, I have seen first-hand the value that veterans bring to the business community.”    

 The panel will take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday over beer and BBQ at Speak Easy Downtown, 47 S. Meridian St.

In addition, veterans will be able to join the Speak Easy, which has co-working spaces in Broad Ripple and downtown, at much cheaper rates—$25 per month, down from the usual $75 per month.

“As the central Indiana tech sector continues to grow, companies are seeking hundreds of qualified new employees,” said Speak Easy Executive Director Danielle McDowell. “As an engine of economic development in Indianapolis, we will connect local veterans with exciting new opportunities, and offer our Tech Warriors a chance to work with local leaders in tech innovation.”

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