Emile Cambry Is Leaving Chicago to Head Up BLUE1647’s St. Louis Facilities

Emile Cambry Is Leaving Chicago to Head Up BLUE1647’s St. Louis Facilities

BLUE1647 CEO Emile Cambry, a prominent Chicago tech figure and champion of tech diversity within the city, is leaving his hometown of Chicago to help launch two new BLUE1647 facilities that are set to open in St. Louis.

Cambry is set to move in the middle of August, when the first of St. Louis’ two centers officially opens. Cambry said he wants to make sure the new facilities start off on the right foot, and being there in person was the best way to do that.

“It’s important for me to be very hands on out there,” he said. “There are some exciting opportunities that we get a chance to be a part of and I just can’t leave that to chance.”

The first St. Louis center was announced last December. Operating similarly to BLUE1647’s Pilsen operation, the 10,000 square-foot building on Delmar Boulevard will offer workforce development classes and technology resources for the city’s youth, and will provide co-working space for startups. Launched in partnership with the St. Louis NAACP and LaunchCode, it will focus on increasing diversity in tech and decreasing the digital divide.

The second St. Louis facility, which has not been previously announced, will open in one of St. Louis’ housing projects a couple weeks after the first building, Cambry said. The center will provide tech classes and resources to residents, and BLUE1647 will power the entire community with WiFi.

“The average income in that community is $7,000,” he said. “We’ll be able to really go in and use technology, but also use the culture of technology development and learning to help youth and adults. I’m exited to see if our model can work in those areas.”

BLUE1647 is able to launch the St. Louis sites with a HUD grant that the St. Louis Workforce Development Center received, Cambry said. In addition to classes and workspace BLUE1647 is also creating 50 full-time tech jobs for people in the community.

“It allows us to go from just a facility or a class to being really ingrained in the community,” Cambry said.

Stepping in for Cambry in Chicago will be Kenneth Watkins and Keith Bradley, two who have been with the organization from the beginning. BLUE1647 has been on a tear since it launched in 2013, opening sites in Englewood and Austin, among other areas. Cambry said BLUE1647 expects to continue expanding, with Minneapolis as one of the next markets for another facility.

Cambry said leaving Chicago was bittersweet, but he believes the team here is in good hands.

“We have a great team that’s more than capable,” he said.