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Silicon Valley is long-known as the global epicenter for technology, venture capital, and entrepreneurship. For entrepreneurs with lofty aspirations and ambitious high-skilled tech workers, “The Valley” presents opportunity and resources at every corner. But, if you look beyond Silicon Valley – to the bluegrass state of Kentucky and across the Midwest – there are ever more technology and entrepreneur-led opportunities emerging.
In his forthcoming book, “Dignity in a Digital Age: Making Tech Work for All of Us”, Representative Ro Khanna of California recognizes the geographic and economic gulf between his own district and much of the rest of the United States. The inspiration for Khanna’s book came from a trip he took to Kentucky, where he experienced firsthand both the lack of technology opportunities – and the coexisting desire for it. The New York Times recently detailed the entire story.
On a sunny D.C. day in March, squeezed in between committee meetings and Congressional votes on Capitol Hill, Rep. Khanna joined the Endeavor community to share his thoughts and insights on distributing wealth and opportunity more equitably. The virtual interview was facilitated by Endeavor Managing Director, Jackson Andrews.
Rep. Khanna detailed the thesis of his book with the Endeavor network: “You can’t have a society where my district and the surrounding area has a $11 trillion market cap, wealth piling up, and 25 million digital jobs concentrated in a handful of places. We have to distribute them and make sure that people can stay in the communities they love.”
In “Dignity in a Digital Age”, Rep. Khanna opens with a story about the work of an Endeavor Entrepreneur, Ankur Gopal, and his company Interapt’s mission to train technology workers in Kentucky and other under-resourced communities.
“I was inspired by what Ankur [Gopal] is doing in Kentucky. He can bring knowledge work, the New Economy, and digital jobs everywhere,” explained Rep. Khanna. “Ankur was doing this impressive work – in Paintsville, Kentucky – hiring all these folks working on… software. I lead the book with that story – it is so compelling.”
Gopal, who founded Interapt in Louisville over a decade ago, shared the story behind the company: “Interapt had a talent problem – like the whole country now has. I could not get engineers to move to Louisville, Kentucky from Silicon Valley or from Boulder, Colorado. So, I just had to train up the people who were knocking on my door… As soon as I saw it working, I turned on the megaphone because the entire country needs to know about this. There are people in Kentucky who need the jobs and skills the most – and they are able and capable of doing it.”
As he walked briskly through Capitol Hill to make it to a subsequent appointment, Rep. Khanna shared a few final lessons with Endeavor’s high-growth founders. “We need to have a better equilibrium… You have to also make sure service workers are well-paid and they have dignity. We have lots of wealth generated for those involved in tech and the multiplier effect, but not necessarily for the bus drivers and food workers – all the workers surrounding the tech industry. Having a more just place for workers is another lesson learned.”
To hear Rep. Ro Khanna’s full interview with the Endeavor network, click here.