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Local tech company Midwest Dev Co formed to help small businesses and new developers

The newly-formed Midwest Dev Co consists of, from left, Chief Technical Officer Joseph Williams, Chief Executive Officer William Wilder, Chief Operating Officer Trace Janota and Chief Relations Officer Joe Letner. Photo by Jay Forness

Midwest Dev Co, which was founded last month in Cape Girardeau, aims to help local businesses create custom websites and help newly trained developers get their first job in the tech industry.

“We work with small businesses, as well as larger organizations and some startups, to take care of all of their tech and software needs – anything from websites to bigger applications,” Chief Executive Officer William Wilder said.

Wilder said the company, which has already started several projects with local businesses, aims to create custom websites and software to help local businesses grow.

“We have over 15 years of shared technical experience and another 10 in business experience,” Wilder said. “We understand local businesses and have the expertise to deliver exactly what they need, but I think our biggest strength is our team.”

In addition to Wilder, Midwest Dev Co consists of Chief Relations Officer Joe Letner, Chief Operating Officer Trace Janota and Chief Technical Officer Joseph Williams.

The group met through the local software training program Code Labs, where they instructed new software development students in the fundamentals of programming. A major goal of the company is to allow graduates from Code Labs, and other newly trained developers, an opportunity to land their first job in the tech industry.

“Post COVID, the job market shifted greatly, especially in tech,” Letner said. “Prior to COVID, a junior-level developer didn’t require any experience – you just had to have some education. As senior-level developer positions were getting cut during COVID, those people took junior-level positions just to keep food on the table.”

Letner said entry-level positions are now requiring two to five years of professional experience to be considered. He has seen many new developers struggle to find a development job and give up on entering the tech industry.

“They are coming out of developer training programs and they have nowhere to go,” Letner said. “We will be working with those graduates to provide them experience on a paid level and help them springboard into entry-level development positions.”

Wilder added that all four of the founders are committed to helping new developers break into the industry.

“I brought this team together not only for their technical ability, because everyone obviously has that here, but they all have a big heart and care about their students,” Wilder said. “I feel like we’re really close to this problem and we’re the right team to solve it.”

Midwest Dev Co offers custom websites that range in size and scope. Williams said they can build small websites listing the business’s services or include more complicated features such as allowing various users to log onto the website or providing e-commerce programs.

“We can allow you to constantly change out all the different products that you display – including different pricing and shipping cost calculations,” Williams said. We can also build any kind of software or any kind of techsolution that you would need. There are no bounds for the stuff that we can make.”

Midwest Dev Co offers assistance in marketing and design, search engine optimization and assessing a business’s tech needs through development audits. “We can look into your company and see what kind of technical needs you may have to further your business,” Williams said.

Janota added that the custom work not only helps local businesses, but also the junior developers at Midwest Dev Co trying to gain experience. “They don’t want to do cookie-cutter websites, because doing the same website 100 times doesn’t get them their next job,” he said.

The members of Midwest Dev Co have moved quickly during their first month of operation to reach out to local businesses and organizations about what they can offer. Janota said the company has also been in talks with more established businesses to update their current websites and build them custom software to make their jobs easier.

“We’ve probably talked to 100 businesses in the last month,” Janota said. “The speed in which we have been working has been incredible. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback and have a lot of happy customers.”

Letner said many of the small businesses they have met with had tried to make their own websites through online platform builders like WordPress, but were frustrated by the lack of customization and high long-term costs.

“We don’t use those sites,” Letner said. “We custom build an application that fits your exact needs. On Word-Press and Wix sites, you’re paying for what they want to offer you – with us, you’re paying for what you want. We aren’t going to charge you for a bunch of things you don’t use.”

Letner said he had met with some businesses who had already spent hundreds of dollars through an online website service, but still didn’t have a live website because they weren’t able to finish it on their own.

“We can take that burden and help grow their business,” Letner said. “We want to partner with small businesses because we are a small business and we understand them.”

Janota added that while many local businesses are worried about the cost associated with creating a custom website, it can be more cost-effective than making a website on their own.

“I think initially there is a lot of hesitation and fear around what it’s going to cost,” Janota said. “If you look at our competition, it will cost you thousands of dollars, either immediately or in the long term. That’s not the approach that we take.”

Janota urged those interested in creating a new website or upgrading their current website or software to contact them. “If you have questions, we are here to answer all of them,” Janota said. “If you are curious about what we do or what we can offer, give us a call.

Consultation meetings can be scheduled at midwestdev.co. Members of the Midwest Dev Co team can also be reached by phone at 573-316-2171 or by emailing info@midwestdevco.com. Midwest Dev Co’s office is in Suite 403 at the Marquette Building, located at 338 Broadway Street in Cape Girardeau.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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