A Wyoming-based company is considering Freeman and Mitchell as locations for a new English as a second language (ESL) teaching center.
Mike Moore, vice president of global account management of Eleutian Technology in Cody, Wyo., said the company is also looking at Vermillion, Sioux Falls, Brookings and Watertown.
The company already has two teaching centers in South Dakota.
"We’ve had good success with the Rapid City and Spearfish centers we’ve opened and incredible support from the state," Moore said.
Eleutian Technology was founded in Ten Sleep, Wyo., in 2006 to provide the world’s largest network of board certified teachers to teach ESL around the world via Internet. It is now headquartered in Cody. More than 300 teachers instruct students in Korea, China and Japan, working from Wyoming call centers in Cody, Powell, Lovell, Sheridan, Casper and Green River, as well as in Provo City, Utah, and Rapid City and Spearfish.
In 2011, Eleutian was working to open a center in Winner, but the plan fell through because Internet speeds were not fast enough. Although a center didn’t work, Moore said a few teachers are still working from home in Winner.
"We would have loved for things to work in Winner because that’s one of our philosophies — working in small town America and providing opportunities, economic opportunities," Moore said.
Freeman was not on the company’s original list of possible locations in southeast South Dakota, he said, but the city contacted the company.
"We were a little concerned about what they could offer as far as bandwidth," Moore said. "But they showed us around town and we were very impressed. It’s a neat community and we’ll be able to work with the local Internet service provider and they’ll be able to provide what we need."
He estimates the company could initially hire 10 to 20 teachers at one center on a part-time basis.
"Mitchell is also fantastic," he said. "It’s a little more the size of community we’re looking at and we felt we could have the most growth in."
The top three things Eleutian looks for in founding new locations is a good location for a teaching/training center, quality board certified teachers and good, solid Internet bandwidth.
So far, the company has received proposals from Freeman and Brookings. The rest of the cities are waiting to submit proposals until Eleutian closes a new deal in China, Moore said. The company could open one center or open a center in each town.
"Either way, we’re expanding and growing. It just kind of depends on this deal and it will tell us how fast we can grow," he said.