Jeremy Warner isn't a Rapid City native, but he and his wife went to school here and often reminisced over how nice the community was. After graduating from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in 2013 with a degree in computer science, he landed a job with Microsoft in Fargo, North Dakota. When the opportunity to join a Sioux Falls-based software engineering company looking to expand into western South Dakota opened up in 2018, the couple didn't hesitate in relocating to Rapid City.
Omnitech was founded in 1998 to provide high-end custom software solutions for small to medium businesses in South Dakota and the surrounding states. Custom software varies in complexity; some clients need brand new from-scratch applications, while others already have systems in place but need specific customizations, such as the ability to sync data between separate systems or pull it out for custom reporting. Over time, the company's services have evolved to include everything from data warehousing and reporting to DevOps and more.
The Sioux Falls office employs around 50, but management was seeking to expand into Rapid City for several reasons. Omnitech wanted to provide full coverage across the state and interact with students from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, many of whom took advantage of the company's internship program in Sioux Falls. Additionally, they recognized the benefits the Mountain time zone would offer to west coast clients.
Choosing the Ascent Innovation business incubator was a strategic decision. Its on-campus location would provide Omnitech with access to the School of Mines' talent pool, enabling the company to engage directly with students and pay them to do some work while they were learning the ropes. Jeremy worked as an intern in the building while he was attending SDSMT and, in an interesting twist of fate, now has an office next door to the company he worked for seven years earlier.
There were additional benefits to having office space in the incubator. "One of the best things about Ascent is the camaraderie when you're just starting out," Jeremy says. "You can meet people from businesses that are doing similar things as you. The community is fantastic." He singles out Terry for introducing him to people so he could start making contacts, and to Mitch for helping him get things done and figuring out what to do next.
Currently, it's just Jeremy and one other full-time employee in the Rapid City office, but they are hoping to add to their staff in the near future. Jeremy would love to see one or more of the three SDSMT students interning in Sioux Falls this summer come back to work witth him; even if they don't, he's positive about the future of Rapid City.
"We have excellent talent at School of Mines, and outdoor recreation is a draw for bringing in people from out of the area," he says. As the area continues to grow, keeping talented graduates in town will be key for additional growth and opportunities moving forward.