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Justin Hall
Most Creative People 2017

Justin Hall

President, Bit Source

For teaching coal miners to code

Justin Hall was running a coding academy for kids in Lexington, Kentucky, when the owner of Bit Source, a software company deep in the state’s struggling coal region, asked him if he could teach coal miners to code too. Hall agreed and came up with a business plan in which Bit Source would hire former miners as “apprentices”—paying them $15 per hour (thanks to federal funds available to jump-start the region) to learn a curriculum he developed involving HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. In March 2015, Hall selected 10 former miners—chosen from more than 900 applicants—who quickly became fluent not just in coding basics but also in programs including Drupal, Xamarin, and Unity. Since then, they have completed dozens of projects, including repeat business from a Fortune 500 company. (Another ongoing effort, which the team brainstormed at an MIT hackathon in October 2016, is an app for delivering lifesaving drugs for opioid overdoses.) Hall says his goal is to establish the region as a hotbed for good coders and attract enough business to sustain the area’s thousands of displaced miners: “What we really want to say is, ‘We can do this work.’ ”

Justin Hall On The Web
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