Thursday, June 20, 2024

Bitwise provides tech skills, training and connection

A co-working space is just the start of its impact on Toledo landscape

Bitwise is moving into a new location at 1300 Jefferson in downtown Toledo this summer.  And Bitwise is much more than a co-working space. LeSean Shaw, Vice-President of Bitwise for Toledo, said, in addition to a co-working space, “(w)e’re all about driving economic development and driving investment in underestimated communities.” 

Bitwise takes the raw talent and economic potential of people not able to get the education they require through traditional routes and provides them with a place to learn tech skills and connect with other entrepreneurs. The incubator of personal attainment and economic empowerment helps not only individuals looking for a new career but also allows entire communities to reinvent themselves as part of the modern knowledge economy with connections to already established players in fields dominated by Silicon Valley, Chicago, or New York while creating those jobs in mid-size cities like Toledo. 

Synergies with the community 

“The opening of the Bitwise Campus this summer is yet another step in Toledo’s exciting downtown renaissance. The training opportunities and co-working space are welcome new additions to our region’s existing workforce development and entrepreneurial support resources,” Wendy Gramza, President and CEO, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce explains. “The Bitwise model has had proven success in other communities, and we see great synergy between the work they are doing and the services the Chamber provides to help businesses start-up and grow, as well as to connect businesses to workforce pipelines.”

The Fresno-based start-up has a number of locations set up or in the process of starting up across the country. Bitwise came to Toledo as part of a partnership with ProMedica, which will occupy part of the building. 

“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with Bitwise and to be its first community project outside of California. The company has a strong track record, and its mission strongly aligns with ProMedica’s social determinants of health and innovations efforts,” then ProMedica President and CEO Randy Oostra said in announcing the partnership in 2021. “We believe this partnership will enable us to build upon our successes and continue the momentum in our community. Together, and with the help of other community partners, we expect to elevate the innovation and technology landscape in our region while creating career path opportunities for our underserved populations.”

Feel of a true tech company headquarters

When the new location opens this summer, Shaw says “It will feel like a cross between a mall of companies and a Google headquarters.” The 100,000 square foot former post office will have 172 rentable units across four floors, some as large as 5,000 square feet. There will be classrooms, an outdoor patio, a tenant lounge, and complimentary Wi-Fi across the building, which will be open 24 hours a day. 

“I am the daughter of field workers from one of the poorest areas of California. Through a fortunate series of events, I found myself at the University of Toledo graduating with a degree in Computer Science and working in the tech industry with professional possibilities I never could have dreamed of as a child,” said Bitwise co-founder Irma Olguin, Jr. “This country is filled with stories similar to mine – people from underserved communities, who never thought these kinds of opportunities would be accessible to them. Together, Bitwise and ProMedica are working to make what was serendipity in my life far more common for the people of Toledo. By connecting people to the skills they need to enter the technology industry, and by surrounding them with a vibrant and inclusive space, we will lift up the entire region.”

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