His 'Tech Jobs Under the Big Top' job fair in St. Louis was packedBy Michael Calhoun

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The co-founder of MapQuest brought his circus-themed job fair to town on Thursday, while also eyeing a potential investment in the city.

“This ‘Big Top’ job fair is a chance to come and continue to get into the middle of the muck of the tech community and see what it’s all about,” said Chris Heivly, director of the Start-Up Factory, a big accelerator in Raleigh-Durham’s Research Triangle which provides selected start-ups with mentorship and $200,000 in seed money.

Heivly’s first visit to St. Louis was last August, when he dropped a hint that a spin-off of the accelerator was in the works. He reaffirmed to KMOX News this week that the Factory “is still considering expanding outside of our home area” and said St. Louis was on his list.

He’s also visited Cleveland and Washington, D.C., among other cities, but noted St. Louis’ striking similarities to Raleigh-Durham.

Among them: “We have a number of very good private and public universities. We have about the same general population. St. Louis has a rising tech community. It has a downtown area in St. Louis that’s starting to cluster. It has venture and capital firms that are being organized.”

In fact, Heivly said when he runs down that list, it makes him “feel like we’ve found a sister community.”

He expects a decision on whether to expand — and to where — by summer.

Contact reporter Michael Calhoun: mrcalhoun@cbs.com; @michaelcalhoun


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