2019: Cognizant, UM partner to graduate 28 students for jobs
in Missoula’s high-paying tech industry
By Martin Kidston, Missoulian
June 28, 2019
Tom Stergios, vice president of strategy and corporate development for Cognizant-ATG in Missoula, right, and University of Montana President Seth Bodnar congratulate the 28 students who completed the All-In-Missoula program on Thursday night. All 28 graduates have landed jobs with Cognizant and will start next month. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)
For the second time this year, a class of students shook hands with the president of the University of Montana and their future boss at Cognizant-ATG to celebrate their graduation from a novel program that positions them for high-paying jobs within the company.
The class of 28 students graduated on Thursday night after completing a 12-week program designed to train them in the technology and business practices employed by the Fortune 200 company.
Most indicated a desire to stay in Missoula at the company’s new Solutions Center in the Old Sawmill District. All will begin work in early July, regardless of where they land.
“You guys faced adversity, overcame it, and now you’re a team joining another team,” said Tom Stergios, vice president of strategy and corporate development for Cognizant-ATG in Missoula. “Without the university, this program would not have been possible. There was a lot of innovation and planning that went into this.”
The program, known as All-In-Missoula, or AIM, traces its roots back to when ATG was a small but growing tech firm with a significant local presence. Facing rapid growth, the company sought new ways to train the workforce needed to fill its jobs.
It did so by partnering with UM, turning out two or three students at a time. When Cognizant acquired ATG last year, it also saw value in the young program and ramped it up to the current form, one that has now graduated more than 55 students.
“This was conceptualized last year,” said Amar Juluri, associate vice president of integration with Cognizant-ATG and one of the AIM program’s leaders in Missoula. “We were trying to find creative ways of addressing the labor challenge. It’s critical for us to tap into these skills that are available to us as a technology company.”
Thursday night’s class included students from a range of backgrounds, including a former downtown bartender, a concrete worker, and a woman who first entered UM as an exchange student in the 1970s.
Families turned out in their Sunday best and students considered their future with the company and the path that brought them to the AIM program.
“I was working at a grocery store, but that was just a temp job until I found an actual job,” said program graduate Austin Horner. “Before that, I was working around Montana Code School as a teacher’s assistant, trying to look for an actual job. Now I start on July 8. The hope is to stay in Missoula, though I know there are opportunities elsewhere.”
Over the past few years, UM has ventured deeper into the Missoula community to partner with companies struggling to fill “the jobs of tomorrow.” Many of those jobs, including those in technology, require certain skills that aren’t easily found.
UM President Seth Bodnar described the AIM program as a model the university intends to build upon.
The program’s 28 students represent a variety of demographics and backgrounds. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)
“It’s a great example of a university-community collaboration and partnership,” he said. “Our job is to serve the needs of the state of Montana, to be responsive to our employers’ needs and to prepare our students well to meet those needs.”
The pace at which the AIM program unfolded may run contrary to yesterday’s university standards, where it took months or years to get a new program up and running.
Cognizant-ATG approached UM in November looking to begin the 12-week course and form the partnerships it required. The result is now described by program officials as one of the most respected and innovative partnerships of its kind in the company.
“Typically in higher ed, you’d say yes, a year-and-a-half from now we’ll have that ready to go,” Bodnar said. “We started the first cohort on Feb. 1, and that first cohort graduated just before commencement – 28 people.”
The first cohort was followed Thursday with the graduation of 28 additional students, each a future employee. A third cohort is already scheduled, as the company is planning for “aggressive” growth in Missoula and some other locations.
Bodnar billed the AIM program as a way to make today’s student’s “tomorrow proof.” It’s a theme he’s pushed since taking leadership of the university.
“We’ll have a bunch of new students show up on the Oval in a couple months, and the reality is, I can’t predict the types of jobs they’re going to do,” he said. “You could not have predicted the types of jobs these graduates tonight will be doing when they join (Cognizant-ATG) officially.
“It’s imperative for us as a university, and all of us as individuals, to continuously learn, grow and adapt, and reinvent yourself again and again. That’s what this program and all of your represent.”
2019: Fast-growing tech company Cognizant opens new office space in
Missoula's Old Sawmill District
David Erickson, Missoulian
Mar 13, 2019
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock talks to a crowd gathered in March 2019 for the official opening of the new Cognizant ATG Missoula Solution Center in the Old Sawmill District. The company helps businesses with cloud-based business processes and technologies.
The new Cognizant offices in Missoula house most of the company's 176 employees in Montana.
The Old Sawmill District in Missoula would have seemed at the beginning of this decade like the most unlikely place in the city to become a tech hub. But that just shows how fast things are changing there.
On Wednesday, executives with the publicly traded tech company Cognizant, along with Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Missoula Mayor John Engen and University of Montana President Seth Bodnar, held a ribbon-cutting for the official opening of the new Cognizant ATG Missoula Solution Center.
The company employs about 140 people in Missoula and 175 statewide. It specializes in helping businesses across the world “effectively plan, implement and optimize cloud-based business processes and technologies.” Cognizant's clients are in a wide range of industries, including financial services, health care, communications and technology.
The company also formally announced a new 12-week training program in partnership with UM that will prepare students for tech consulting jobs and give them the opportunity to apply for open positions at the company, which has been on a hiring spree the last few years.
Cognizant acquired ATG last year, and leased 15,700 square feet in the Cambium Place building at the Old Sawmill District soon afterwards.
Engen remembered how, growing up in Missoula, the area was a blue-collar lumber yard and later an abandoned, polluted industrial waste area where kids got into trouble.
“I’m here to recognize a success story,” he said. “There are lots of success stories in Missoula, Montana, but the fact of the matter is those success stories are happening at an increased rate and they’re happening because people work together in this community.”
The company has received grants from the Montana Department of Commerce for job creation in the past. They qualify because they pay higher-than-average wages and bring in money from outside the state.
“It’s an honor to extend my congratulations and thanks to Cognizant for investing in ATG and for their commitment to keeping a home in Missoula, creating more jobs in the community, and ensuring students have access to education and training to help them succeed in high-demand technology fields,” Bullock said.
Bullock flew in from Helena to be at the ribbon-cutting and took a private tour of the new office with company officials.
“In Montana, we’ve put an emphasis on growing the economy and making sure we continue to be an attractive place to live and do business, and right here is an example of how that is paying off," Bullock said.
Cognizant, which is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange, was recently ranked at number 195 on Fortune Magazine’s list of the 500 largest corporations in the U.S. in terms of its total revenue.
The company has indicated it plans to keep hiring here and has plans to consolidate its workforce in Missoula and perhaps build a new space in the Sawmill District down the road. Some employees are still working downtown at the Garlington, Lohn and Robinson building.
“We’re excited to be opening our new Cognizant ATG Missoula Solution Center and laying a foundation for future growth in Montana,” said Allen Shaheen, Cognizant’s executive vice president of North American digital hubs.
He said Montana, and Missoula in particular, are attractive places to do business based on the "local talent pool, quality of life (the company) can offer employees, readily available educational resources, and a thriving tech community."
"This new center will serve as a key innovation hub as we continue to expand Cognizant’s portfolio of cloud solutions," he said.
The company specializes in connecting Salesforce-trained experts to other businesses around the world.
Tom Stergios, senior vice president of corporate development, also announced the company will be giving a $25,000 grant to UM’s SpectrUM program, which is designed to inspire kids to pursue higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The new training program at UM will offer roles including data analytics, project management, Salesforce technologies and other avenues.
Bodnar noted that the Cognizant ATG Missoula Solutions Center employs 100 UM graduates.
“The energy at the University of Montana has been on the rise and a big part of that is Tom Stergios has been spending more time at the university,” Bodnar said. “Today is an exciting day. Today is a culmination of recognition of a tremendous partnership that has been going on for nearly a decade now between the university and the city of Missoula and ATG.”
On Tuesday, March 19, the company is hosting a meet-and-greet at 5:30 at Cambium Place for anyone interested in applying at the company. Registration is required online. For more information visit ATG on Facebook.
2019: Sawyer student apartments open in Missoula’s Old Sawmill District
By Mari Hall, Missoula Current
February 16, 2019
The Sawyer student housing project will open in Missoula’s Old Sawmill District for the 2019-2020 school year.
The Sawyer student apartment building in Missoula’s Old Sawmill District is accepting lease applications for the 2019-2020 school year as two years of construction wrap up.
The apartments are due for completion by June.
The 126,000-square-foot building has four floors, and is located on Wyoming Street alongside the Polley Square condominiums and Cambium Place.
Students can choose from nine different floor plans, including two to four bedrooms per unit, many looking out toward Mount Sentinel.
Each bedroom has its own bathroom, and each unit has a kitchen, living area, and a washer and dryer. The building also provides security access and underground parking.
Sawyer has 218 beds in all, and each floor will have a community space, along with study rooms, a cafe and exercise areas.
Average rent for bedroom suites is $630, including a flat $50 utility fee.
“This is kind of [students’] first experience looking for apartments and housing in the Missoula community, and I think they’re looking for that nice balance that gets them out there but feels safe and still has a lot of conveniences that they’re used to,” project manager Catie Peissig said.
Once a booming industrial sawmill complex, the Old Sawmill District began development 16 years ago. “Sawyer” was chosen as the name of the student housing to incorporate more of the area’s history.
Other projects in the planning and construction phases include a senior living building, a tech campus, a restaurant and multiple parks. Residents will also receive perks, such as a discounted gym membership to Brio Fitness, located in the district.
“There’s a theme out here of industrial, family-owned, closely held, hardworking, blue collar people, and Missoula had a number of these kind of mills going back through time. It really became of the heart of Missoula and it employed most of the people,” Old Sawmill District developer Ed Wetherbee said.
Developer Ed Wetherbee said the Sawyer apartments will offer students many of the amenities they were accustomed to at home.
The ROAM Student Living development in downtown Missoula had to delay some student move-in dates last year due to construction. However, Wetherbee said he is pushing to get the project finished for walk-through inspections by May.
“Sometimes it gets a little adversarial, but we know it has to get done in time. We’ve had some great subcontractors, we’ve had some great suppliers who have done many creative things to make sure that we get it done in time,” Wetherbee said.
Student housing developments have spread throughout the United States, and Wetherbee said that it was time for Missoula to offer a locally owned and operated housing option.
“We’ve seen a product like this accepted broadly at many other campuses around the country. In fact, MSU beat us to it and theirs are very successful. We’re now able to provide that kind of a product here in Missoula,” Wetherbee said.
Students can apply online or visit the leasing office located in the district as well to receive a tour and more information on amenities, floor plans and rates.
2018: New co-working lounge opens in Missoula's Old Sawmill District
DAVID ERICKSON, Missoulian
December 2, 2018
Margo Stoner, the owner of High Mountain Creative, works in the new C3 Worklounge in the Old Sawmill District development on Thursday afternoon. The coworking space is designed to cater to the working traveler and other types of office-less entrepreneurs.
Ed Wetherbee, the co-developer of the district, and his team are in the midst of redeveloping the former lumberyard on Wyoming Street near Silver Park into $250 million worth of commercial and residential development, including a new student housing project.
Missoula is a place that attracts entrepreneurs who own their own small startup businesses and those who work remotely, including freelancers or people who don’t need their own offices.
The internet has made it possible for many more people to work anywhere they want, and the Big Sky state’s outdoor recreation opportunities make it an enticing option.
But working from home or in coffee shops with spotty wireless internet isn’t always ideal. That’s why the developers of the Old Sawmill District near downtown Missoula have opened the C3 Worklounge, a coworking space designed to cater to the working traveler and other types of office-less entrepreneurs.
There’s microbrew draft beer, a kitchen area with a bar, large windows that open to a courtyard with fire pits and a technology infrastructure that allows for all kinds of virtual business. The lounge is located inside the larger Cambium Place building, a 160,000-square-foot mixed-use development that includes a Brio Fitness gym, saunas, a commercial kitchen with guest seating, a “great room” for lounging, conference rooms, office space and 69 residential apartments.
Ed Wetherbee, the co-developer of the district, saw the need for a coworking space in Missoula that’s become popular in larger cities. It’s hard to miss the bustling WeWork shared workspaces in places like Los Angeles and Chicago. Coworking environments allow workers to connect and socialize with others that they may never have met in a traditional corporate environment or if they were to work from home. Wetherbee said the environment leads to more collaboration and enhanced productivity.
“The business is modeled around shared desks, private offices and meeting rooms in an open interactive, social environment,” he explained. “C3 will be a space that allows for innovation and creative collaboration of businesspeople and freelancers. Dedicated desks and office space, along with open seating options, are available in a membership-style business design. It is integral to our Tech Campus opportunity.”
People can pay anywhere from $15 a day for up to 10 punch-card passes to $500 a month for a private office, according to C3's website.
Wetherbee and his team are in the midst of redeveloping the former lumberyard on Wyoming Street near Silver Park into $250 million worth of commercial and residential development, including a new student housing project, a new restaurant called the Sawmill Grille, four upscale condo buildings, a senior living project, a neighborhood inn and perhaps a child-care center.
They’ve got a building permit in place for a 15,000-square-foot facility called the 910 Building that will be the base of what they’re calling the “tech and innovation campus,” designed to attract tenants who need high-speed internet and other tech amenities.
Erinn Donnell, the C3 Worklounge community manager, said they’ve already got dozens of users from all backgrounds needing a place to set up shop and network.
Soon, a financial investment advising office, a physical therapy company and a tech company called Advanced Technology Group will all move into Cambium, along with perhaps another café or restaurant or market to join the Dog and Bicycle Café across the street.
Leslie Wetherbee, a broker for Old Sawmill’s Development team and a real estate agent with Windermere, said the mixed residential and commercial combination of the building means there’s a different sort of vibe. The large lounging spaces foster connections and social gatherings.
“Our residents have told us they feel like it’s really more like a community than just a regular apartment complex,” she said.
She said she and her husband knew there wasn’t anything like it in Montana, so they traveled to places like Boulder, Colorado, to get ideas before they started the project.
“As we’ve been looking at doing projects here, we did a lot of research,” she said. “We went to different places where they’ve repurposed different areas, and this was one of the things that we saw that was just really cool. And we thought, ‘What do we need here that is going to make this a really vibrant and awesome neighborhood and was going to be different than what we see everywhere else?' And so we wanted to have a project that was mixed use.”
Soon, the developers will begin to work on a greenbelt that connects the Milwaukee Trail pedestrian path to Silver Park and start construction on new phases of the entire project, which will eventually be the largest infill development in state history.
One step at a time, Old Sawmill District adds pieces that change the dynamic of the ever-growing neighborhood.
“We’re really excited about that,” Leslie Wetherbee said.
2018: Sawmill District unveils plans for tech and innovation campus;
room for 1,000 workers
By Martin Kidston, Missoula Current
October 17, 2018
With Missoula’s tech scene heating up, the Old Sawmill District and its team of developers unveiled their plans for a tech and innovation campus, one large enough to support more than 1,000 workers when fully built.
Project developer Ed Wetherbee said the campus will include 1G data and underground parking, and serve as a showpiece for one of Missoula’s fastest growing industries.
“There’s a great need for companies to co-locate, and for companies to feel like they’re in a great work environment that not only is great for efficiency and effectiveness, but is also great to recruit and retain employees,” Wetherbee said on Wednesday.
The first structure for the campus is permitted and ready for construction, which will occur with the acquisition of a tenant. When fully built, Wetherbee said, the campus will offer up to 200,000 square feet of commercial space.
It will also serve as a showpiece for Missoula’s burgeoning tech industry, and could play a role in recruiting top talent to the city.
“While we all hope companies here will grow and employ more Montana-based people, we also know they need to recruit some talent from other places,” Wetherbee said. “When these people are coming from the East or West coasts, or a tech-heavy environment, we’re hoping to create a place that has the amenities and all the expectations they bring with them.”
A vacant field three years ago, the Old Sawmill District has seen development activity pick up, with more than 300,000 square feet of office, retail and residential space already built. That includes high-end condos, student housing, and short- and long-term apartments offering premium amenities.
Recently, the C3 WorkLounge opened in Cambium place, as did Brio Fitness. In January, ATG will occupy the building’s third and fourth floor.
The firm was recently acquired by Cognizant and could add hundreds of new employees to its Missoula payroll in the coming years, making it a potential candidate for the Old Sawmill District’s tech campus.
“We’ve designed it – and our architects have worked closely with us – to create an environment where it could be developed and built out on a building-by-building, incremental basis, or it could be built out as one large complex simultaneously to accommodate a big corporate tenant,” Wetherbee said. “We’ve created flexibility there so when someone decides what they want, we can tailor it to their needs. We can adjust as we go.”
Other projects in the district continue to move forward, including construction of a new student housing complex set to open next summer. The district’s newest restaurant, the Sawmill Grille, is set to break ground next month and open next year.
“We’re also finishing up design and working with the city on a few modifications so we can start our next residential phase of townhomes,” said Wetherbee. “We’re in discussion with potential partners to kick off our 55+ active adult product.”
Both of those projects will take place west of the tech campus within the Old Sawmill District.
Old Sawmill District Press
14 Sep, 2017
By Martin Kidston / Missoula Current
The pace of construction is expected to quicken this year in the Old Sawmill District as other projects, including a new student housing center, pictured in the foreground, continue to take shape.
A new bar and grill and lifestyle center will join the pace of construction in the Old Sawmill District this year, while a neighborhood inn and active retirement center are expected to follow next year, the developers said Thursday.
A new 218-bed student housing project is also under construction, along with the last two condominiums that marked the development’s inaugural phase.
“By the end of next summer, it will look like a completely different place,” said Leslie Wetherbee, a partner in the Sawmill development. “It’s really taking shape now and you can feel the energy from it.”
Just three years ago, the Sawmill District was little more than a vacant field, though it had been primed by the city for development.
While the project was slow to gain traction initially, it has since boomed with four condo buildings, a student housing center and high-end apartment building that’s nearly complete.
In the coming months, Wetherbee said, the project will break ground on two additional buildings, including a lifestyle center. Several tenants have been secured for the ground floor, she said, while offices and residential are planned for the upper floors.
“We’re also in the design phases for the Sawmill Grille now, and we’ll be getting a building permit for that pretty soon,” said Wetherbee. “Our goal is to start construction for that this fall and open by this time next year.”
While the developers gear up to launch the two additional projects, they’re also planning for the opening of the new student housing project.
That development is one of two such projects under construction in Missoula, the other being downtown on Front Street. The student housing in the Sawmill District will include 218 beds in 57 units.
“We had that in our plan from the beginning,” said Wetherbee. “When we started looking at businesses and products, we wanted to have all ages. We wanted to have a small amount of student housing. We think the students add a lot of energy.”
The energy brought by the students will complement the developer’s plans to build an active living center for those 55 and up. That’s expected to break ground next year.
Wetherbee said the project will cater to those looking to break free of a mortgage and home upkeep.
“They want to take out their equity and worry less about ownership and maintenance,” Wetherbee said. “It’s meant to be very social, and we’ll offer a lot of different services, such as lifelong learning.”
Next year’s projects will also include a neighborhood inn, one that will offer roughly 25 rooms in a boutique-style setting. Wetherbee said it will likely sit next to the Sawmill Grille on the north side of Wyoming Street.
“A lot of people who are living down here are downsizing,” Wetherbee said. “For that once or twice a year when you need that guest bedroom, you’ll have that opportunity down here (with the neighborhood inn).”
See Missoula Current Article HERE.
Polleys Square Condominiums Grand Opening!
A ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the first Polleys Square condominium building in the Old Sawmill District on Thursday, July 28. The first residents of the 23-unit building on Wyoming Street have moved in. The first condo building – three more are planned – is part of what will eventually be $250 million in redevelopment at the site, partially financed with EB-5 funding, the largest urban infill project in Montana history.
The Dog & Bicycle Bakery Café is now the commercial tenant on the ground floor of Polley’s Square A. Polley’s Square B is under construction and scheduled to open a few months down the road.
Other projects slated for the site include a student housing project, an executive-style apartment building, a 55-and-older project, a neighborhood grocery store, a fitness center, office space and perhaps a restaurant.
Construction on Polley’s Square C will start in late October. There are four units available in A, and about half the units in B are under contract.
"A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Old Sawmill District in Missoula on Tuesday, marking the beginning of what will be a $250 million development over the next 10 years."
"Nearly $23 million in foreign investment authorized under a U.S. visa program is helping fund several large projects heading for the Old Sawmill District in Missoula, Montana..."
"The acceleration of the national economy may find its way to Missoula next year, with tens of millions of dollars invested in several building projects that could turn 2015 into a banner year for local construction."