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Code Louisville Expands Into New Space

Surging interest and boosted participation is leading to an expansion of Code Louisville into a recently renovated building that is part of the downtown Nucleus Innovation Park.

The Nucleus park is funded by the University of Louisville Foundation and is part of the university's J.D. Nichols Campus for Innovation and Entrepreneurship near Floyd and Market Streets.

Code Louisville is the city initiativethat trains residents computer programming through a free 12-week program. All that's needed to participate is a library card.

President Barack Obama's visit to Louisville earlier this year brought a slew of attention to the program, said Rider Rodriguez, a spokesman for KentuckianaWorks, the groups that facilitates Code Louisville.

Enrollment in the program more than doubled following Obama's visit.

Currently, the program has 400 active students, Rodriguez said. Hundreds more are set to begin classes in the fall.

"We're looking to accommodate everyone that we can," he said.

It cost about $1,200 to send one person through the program.

Previously, participants met at the main library branch. Now, the program participants will have access to a state-of-the-art facility on Market Street.

Rodriguez said a near $3 million federal workforce innovation grant provides the money to allow KentuckianaWorks to lease the space in the Nucleus building. They'll lease nearly 600 square feet of the building for about $8,400 a month, Rodriguez said.

The lease will last through the duration of the five-year grant.

Code Louisville classes have already began meeting in the new space. Classes meet once a week and participants are tasked with following along online with the rest of the class, Rodriguez said.

Rider said it's been difficult to monitor the rate which Code Louisville grads are hired by tech companies.

One success story comes via a group of young men from the Beecher Terrace housing complex that recently completed the program, he said. Through the city's SummerWorks program, they are now operating their own software development company, Beech Technologies.

Rider said about 25 other graduates have found employment in the tech sector.

With help from the federal funds, Code Louisville officials will begin more intensely monitoring the progress of the program's graduates, Rider said.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stressed the importance of programs like Code Louisville. He said there are currently about 1,700 open jobs in Louisville that require some type of development skills.

"The projections are that by 2020 there will be over 10,000 jobs that require software coding skills here in Louisville," he said. "The more proactive we are in terms of providing training for this at the entry level and the advanced level, the better position we will be to succeed."

The Learning House Inc. will also lease space in the new Nucleus building as the launch an "intensive" coding boot camp in September, according to a news release.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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