GENERAL Assembly is going big in Australia and laying groundwork in our Sunshine State.
The digital literacy business, with campuses all around the world, has just opened in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Geelong.
Already the New York company has campuses in Melbourne and Sydney offering design, marketing, technology and data courses.
Somewhere between a co-working hub and a modern-day school, General Assembly is focused on providing digital economy skills to professionals.
Ryan Meyer, senior regional director Asia Pacific at General Assembly, says the business was very selective for its Australian expansion. It has chosen Australian partners carefully too, River City Labs in Brisbane and Spark Bureau on the Sunshine Coast.
"We identified emerging tech communities. We are very opportunistic and saw a lot of co-working spaces being launched in these areas, saw a background in creative tech and wanted to participate that," says Meyer.
"We have a tonne of interest in Brisbane and are further along there and Geelong than the Sunshine Coast, but we have very exciting space partners in all three cities. We are so excited by the amount of reception we are receiving in the community.
"In this expansion we also looked at well-connected hubs, how can we go outside of our comfort zones so in two years we will have a fully-formed campus, and also hub and spoke communities that are still connected. That's how we see Brisbane - we think within a year or two, we will get to the point of a fully-formed campus."
In his words, Meyer has 'earned his grey hairs', having lived all over the world for his own businesses and General Assembly.
Meyer was instrumental in bringing up General Assembly's Los Angeles presence in 2014.
Now Sydney-based, the California native has worked in education for a number of years, also in what he refers to as 'the old economy' for over a decade.
"I ended up running a sales division for a global Fortune 500 company out of Japan, which was very much in the manufacturing and automotive space," he says.
"Pursuant to that, I started a kids science education program called Minds in Motion. We work with children and more or less take a structural approach, use data to create a baseline on physiological performance and that gives a number of upstream benefits to children. In the US, there are about 17,000 kids that follow this program."
Meyer says the Queensland Government has been particularly supportive of the General Assembly cause.
"One of the things that drew us to Queensland, the regional government is really taking a lot of steps to foster an environment of innovation," he says.
"We are not signed up for any of the public funds, but there's a lot of announcements and movement towards thinking about the future. We are also in the process in Australia of finalising an RTO partnership, so prospective students of web development will soon have access to funding. We have only ever signed up with government funding in one market before, in Singapore, so we are very excited by that, and think the timing and market is just right."
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