N3, an international integrated sales and marketing firm, announced Monday afternoon that it hopes to bring about 300 jobs to the Kanawha Valley.
The Atlanta-based company, which was founded in 2004, is the newest tenant of South Charleston’s West Virginia Regional Technology Park.
“We have to have people that are willing to work hard, that are smart and are customer-centric. ... It became apparent that we needed to come here,” Jeff Laue, N3’s CEO and one of its co-founders, said in an interview.
If the company is successful in creating that many new jobs, it would be a 46 percent increase from the 650 jobs at businesses already located at the Tech Park. The company will lease space in Building 2000 — the same building occupied by BridgeValley Community and Technical College. The company officially announced its expansion during an afternoon news conference.
Laue said the space his company plans to occupy is about 28,000 square feet, which can hold about 200 employees. He estimates those jobs will be created within a year. From there, N3 will need to expand again and get more space to create the additional 100 jobs, which Laue said likely would come within 18 months from now.
N3 hopes to funnel students out of the region’s colleges and universities into its workforce. Between 25 and 30 percent of the jobs at the new location will require a computer science or some sort of technical four-year undergraduate degree, Laue said.
At first, Laue was worried about whether the state would have enough young adults with college degrees to support the company’s needs. Paul Hill, the chancellor of the state’s Higher Education Policy Commission, said his office gathered resumes from recent college grads across the state to prove there were enough.
“It helps that the market here is a little bit less competitive. We hope to be the employer of choice here,” Laue said. “We’re one of the employers of choice in Atlanta. A lot of people love the workforce and we have a great campus, but in Atlanta, we’re competing against big companies — a lot of multinationals.”
Woody Thrasher, secretary of the state Department of Commerce, said he hopes that N3 and other companies like it can reverse the “brain drain” on the Mountain State. He said too many young people go to college then leave for out-of-state opportunities.
The company has locations across the globe, including London; Singapore; Dublin, Ireland; Bogota, Colombia; and San Jose, Costa Rica. Besides Atlanta, locations in the United States include Seattle; Fargo, North Dakota; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Laue said his company was turned on to the Tech Park by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Dow Chemical donated the Tech Park to the state in 2010, when Manchin was the state’s governor. He accepted the gift and now the Higher Education Policy Commission controls the property.
“We might be standing on raw dirt and concrete had it not been for the [Manchin] when he was governor for taking this property and turning it into the newest technology campus in the state’s system,” Hill said. “Now the Tech Park is home to dozens of the types of companies we hope to continue to attract.”
Manchin said N3’s expansion into the region is proof that it was a good idea for the state to keep the Tech Park.
“We appreciate jobs,” Manchin said at the news conference. “We’ll take one job at a time. The difference is the appreciation West Virginia has for the opportunity you’re giving us — it’s going to come back to you in spades.”
Kenneth Boggs will lead N3’s South Charleston branch, according to the company’s news release. Boggs most recently worked as sales and marketing strategies coordinator at OrbitalATK, an aerospace and defense company, according to the release.
N3 is planning to hold a career fair from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Clay Center in Charleston. Partnering with N3 for the career fair are Manchin, the Charleston Area Alliance, Workforce WV and the Department of Commerce.