To understand West Virginia’s emerging tech industry, you have to understand the Mountain State itself, the heart of American coal country and a formidable player in Rust Belt manufacturing.
A good starting point is 1997, when coal production peaked at around 182 million tons. Around this time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the manufacturing industry, the state’s second largest, accounted for roughly 1-in-8 jobs. Due to an elaborate set of causes, coal and manufacturing jobs have declined ever since, dealing a heavy blow to the West Virginia economy.
Drew Formica, a native West Virginian, grew up when both industries thrived, but dreamed of a career in emerging technology. Formica, born and raised in the town of Bridgeport, thought his home could only offer him a blue-collar occupation and, regretfully, expected his dream to take him away from his home state.
Two decades later, Formica is immersed in cutting edge software engineering at Leidos, which employs highly skilled coders in high-wage jobs in its two Morgantown offices, which support roughly $200 million in programs.
Read more at leidos.com: