ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – In early March Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam, held a conference in partnership with the 1901 Group to announce a project that would bring 150 tech-based jobs to the Southwest Virginia area.
At the time of the announcement, recruitment for these positions was already underway. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been some unexpected changes. While the pandemic is not impacting the project moving forward, it has altered the recruitment process. With social distancing guidelines still in place by the CDC, onboarding and orientation for these new positions are done virtually, with equipment for the role being sent to the employee’s home upon hire.
While many have lost their jobs or have been forced to adopt a new way of working during this pandemic, Sonu Singh, the President and CEO of The 1901 Group says they haven’t missed a beat. Since the tech-based jobs vary anywhere from maintaining government contracts to software development, these positions can easily be done on a secure internet connection from someone’s home.
Since the announcement of these jobs over a month ago, Singh says they’re on track for success and have already extended 20 offers with many more to come. In fact, due to the pandemic, he said they’ve actually seen an increase in resumes coming in for these jobs.
“It really gives us the ability to hire folks that are very talented that might have been in different fields and have lost their jobs,” said Singh.
With recruitment on-going and the project underway, he said they will reach their goal in no time. “Honestly, I think that by Fall we’re really going to be going because we have a gigantic pipeline of opportunities,” said Singh.
The only thing that remains uncertain is if and when they will be able to use the space they had originally planned to use for this project inside the Virginia Highlands small business incubator.
While in-person office work is still up in the air, Singh said operations can still easily run regardless of location. However, Singh says the safety and health of his employees remain his top priority.
Saul Hernandez, who serves on the Washington County, Va, Board of Supervisors says they’ve been looking into a project of this magnitude for years. He said when the initial announcement was made, he was excited. Hernandez said not only does he always stand in support of new jobs coming to his region but in a time like this, he advocates strongly for positions that can be done remotely.
“Granted, it’s not the same as being physically located, but using some of the technology and the collaboration technologies, folks can work and be productive and efficient but still feel connected,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez went onto say that for certain businesses, performing work from home in some aspects could very much become the new normal. “This remote work that fits very well with us where we are is a very viable option, as a matter of fact, some may even say it’s a better option,” he said.
While recruitment remains on-going, Singh said his company remains dedicated to delivering these promised jobs. So far, he said he’s been impressed with the applicant pool and he’s thrilled to be able to showcase the talents in Southwest Virginia as well as provide much-needed job opportunities during this tough time.