What we’ll need to do when The Iron Yard closes its doors

by Joey deVilla on July 21, 2017

In an announcement made earlier today, the coding school The Iron Yard announced that they were closing all of their campuses, which includes our very own Tampa Bay branch in St. Petersburg and another branch in Orlando.

In their announcement, The Iron Yard’s communications director Leila King wrote:

In considering the current environment, the board of The Iron Yard has made the difficult decision to cease operations at all campuses after teaching out remaining summer cohorts. We will finish out summer classes completely, including career support.

Located in a converted warehouse building on St. Pete’s 1st Avenue South, The Iron Yard was where a lot of local techies devoted 12 intense weeks (and more than $12,000 for the opportunity) to learn how to program. It’s meant for people who are staking their future on a career in software development, and it’s not for the faint of heart or dilettantes. In my three years here, I’ve met the instructors and a good number of Iron Yard graduates, and I’ve even been a guest lecturer a couple of times. I’ve been impressed by what the instructors have accomplished, what the students have learned, and most importantly, where their learning has taken them.

The Iron Yard is more than just a coding school. It’s also a beautiful, comfortable space that serves as a hub for developers and techies on the St. Pete side of the Bay, as it’s the home of a number of meetups and other gatherings. It’s the social heart and soul of the tech scene on the St. Pete side of the Bay.

When I moved here in 2014, The Iron Yard was one of the first places I frequented. It’s where I got to know a lot of people in the local tech community and made some of my first friends here. It’s a key part of the Tampa Bay Tech scene and a big contributor to the local economy and culture, and we’re all be missing something once they close their doors.

So what do we, as members of the Tampa Bay tech and entrepreneurial community, do in light of The Iron Yard’s imminent closing?

First and foremost, let’s recognize the amazing work that the Iron Yard Tampa Bay’s team have done. To Toni Warren, Katherine Trammell, Holly Valenty, Mark Dewey, Angel Murchison, Jason Perry, Gavin Stark, and all the other folks at The Iron Yard: thank you for everything you’ve done. Through the students you’ve educated, the community you served and supported, the friendships you’ve helped make, and the space you created, you’ve made Tampa Bay a better, smarter place.

The Iron Yard crew: Gavin Stark, Holly Valenty, Jason Perry, Angel Murchison, Katherine Trammel, Toni Warren, and Mark Dewey.

Second, let’s make sure that all the people whose livelihoods come from working at The Iron Yard get new jobs! If you’re even only slightly involved in the Tampa Bay tech scene, you know they’re not just high-caliber techies, but also pillars of the community and great people in general. I’m sure that the closing of The Iron Yard has thrown a wrench in their lives and plans, and we as a community owe it to them to help smooth the path for them. If you’re hiring, hire them!

Third — and this is a tricky one — we’ll have to figure out where local aspiring developers will go. How do we fill the need for a place like The Iron Yard when it’s gone? What options will there be for someone who wants a concentrated, structured environment in which to learn how to code and learn how to look for development work?

And finally, the closing of The Iron Yard means that we all need to pitch in and try to create new homes for the meetups and other gatherings that took place there. I’m going to use my newly-minted position at Sourcetoad to see if it can become home for a couple of meetups that have been displaced, but what we really need is a venue on the St. Pete side.

And because it can’t be said enough, I’ll close with this: Thank you, Iron Yard Tampa Bay (and all the Iron Yard locations) for everything you’ve done.

Recommended reading

I’ll leave it to the Gentle Reader to find all the reports about The Iron Yard’s closing. I’d much rather point you to stories about The Iron Yard’s impact on Tampa and St. Pete:

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

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