CINCINNATI -- The six students set to graduate May 19 from the Cincinnati campus of the Iron Yard Inc., a website code-writing school, will be its last.
The Greenville, S.C.-based company plans to close its campus on East Eighth Street downtown once its current students graduate, said Lelia King, the company’s communications director. It’s one of several local campuses the company has shut down in recent months or has plans to, including those in San Antonio and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The company plans to focus on increasing opportunities at its other campuses and on investing in its online learning platform, new part-time course formats and its “growing corporate training programs,” King said. The company remains committed to providing courses for career changers, she said, and to “ensuring we are offering the right courses in the right markets, where we can have the most impact.”
“It was great having the Iron Yard,” said Tara Manicsic, director of the local chapter of Women Who Code, a nonprofit that supports advancement and education for women in tech. “They were really generous to the community.”
Manicsic said she didn’t know why the campus is closing, but she guessed it was because it didn’t have enough students. The local campus opened little more than a year ago, and just 10 students have graduated in that time.
However, all of them have landed programming jobs, King said.
As WCPO.com previously reported, the Iron Yard charged $13,900 for a 12-week, 60-80 hours-per-week program that’s designed to turn beginners into job-ready developers.
There are also lower-cost and less immersive ways to learn coding in the Tri-State. For example, the local chapter of Girl Develop It offers evening and weekend classes for as little as $10-$11 an hour, said Becky Blank, the chapter’s co-director. Blank, who also served on the Iron Yard’s local advisory board, said she’s sad that the company is leaving.
She added, though, that the impact wouldn’t be so great because the local campus wasn’t around very long. “It’s not like taking the University of Cincinnati out of Cincinnati, right?” she said.
The company wouldn’t comment on why it decided to shut the local campus down, but it doesn’t appear to be because the region lacks job openings. There are about 1,800 Tri-State vacancies in the tech field, said Geoff Smith, co-chairman of the CIO Roundtable, a business-backed group trying to address the shortage.
Jeff Boeh, director of the Cincinnati campus, previously told WCPO.com that the region had at least 175 jobs unfilled for web developers, jobs that pay about $50,000 annually.
Smith, who served on the advisory board for the Cincinnati campus, said he thinks the Iron Yard has found a good market for its corporate training programs. He thinks management has made a strategic decision to put more resources into them, leaving less for brick-and-mortar campuses.
The former Procter & Gamble Co. executive said that, based on his experience in the corporate world, corporate training programs are probably much more lucrative, “if you crack the code on how to do it.” It’s probably something he would have looked into doing as well, he said, if he were in management’s shoes.
“I would love to have seen Iron Yard be successful here,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, the Cincinnati campus didn’t have more time to grow and evolve.”