LaunchCode founder McKelvey celebrates five years, sizes up St. Louis tech

LaunchCode, the St. Louis-based nonprofit that takes an apprenticeship-based approach to preparing people for technology jobs, celebrated its fifth anniversary Thursday night with a “GeekGala.”

The organization has helped 1,400 people start tech jobs in St. Louis, founder Jim McKelvey said, and that total doesn’t account for the program’s efforts in other markets.

McKelvey, a St. Louis native, founded the payments startup Square with fellow St. Louisan and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, but they ultimately moved the company from St. Louis to San Francisco to find a larger pool of tech talent.

The shortage of tech talent persists, McKelvey said, and it’s “constraining the growth of every corporation in St. Louis.”

But the LaunchCode founder said he sees ample cause for optimism in the St. Louis tech scene.

“A dollar goes farther,” than in other markets, he said, “and then we are building an ecosystem and that ecosystem is important.”

Read more: St. Louis Public Radio

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