Some buzzword-spouting tech people came to West Virginia promising everyone
a new monorail jobs, and really, what could possibly go wrong?
She had every reason to believe. Joe Manchin III, her Democratic senator, had invited the group to come into the state. The National Guard hired it to teach at its military-style academy. County commissioners arranged space rent free. National news outlets gave glowing coverage.
Many West Virginians like Ms. Frame signed up for Mined Minds, quitting their jobs or dropping out of school for the prized prospect of a stable and lucrative career. But the revival never came.
Almost none of those who signed up for Mined Minds are working in programming now. They described Mined Minds as an erratic operation, where guarantees suddenly evaporated and firings seemed inevitable, leaving people to start over again at the bottom rungs of the wage jobs they had left behind.
Over two dozen former students in West Virginia are pursuing a lawsuit, arguing that Mined Minds was a fraud. Out of the 10 or so people who made it to the final weeks of Ms. Frame’s class in Beckley, only one formally graduated. He is now delivering takeout.
“It was a too-good-to-be-true kind of deal,” said Billyjack Buzzard, 33, who attended another class and was the only former West Virginia coal miner to finish classes and get a job with the program. He was fired after 14 months and went back underground. “Just false hope.”
Mined Minds came into Appalachia espousing a certain dogma, fostered in the world of start-ups and TED Talks, and carried with missionary zeal into places in dire need of economic salvation. The group was premised on the notion, as one grant proposal read, that “anyone can have a successful career in the technology industry,” and that if enough people did, the whole area would be transformed.
Ok, but will a bunch of TED talk jargon might not actually be the solution to economic decline in Appalachia, but it’s a guaranteed fast track to an NBA championship! I’ll come in again.