Kansas City tech startup will hire about 500 high-paid workers in Johnson County

·3 min read

Torch.AI, an artificial intelligence firm based in Leawood, announced plans to add nearly 500 new jobs over the next five years in the Kansas City area.

Launched in 2017, Torch.AI offers high-speed processing of massive amounts of data. The company says its software can help companies and governments fight fraud, secure information, make better decisions and create better customer experiences.

Torch.AI said it will hire more than 100 new employees this year with an average annual salary above $100,000. Jobs will range from early career associate engineers and junior data scientists to top engineering and sales positions. A list of current openings is available on the firm’s website, www.torch.ai.

The company expects to hire locals, recruit new talent to Kansas City and work with local universities to help prepare new IT and data science professionals.

“We’ve long known there is untapped talent here in the region that can help the government and commercial sectors solve significant challenges,” said Brian Weaver, the founder, chairman and CEO of Torch.AI. “This agreement represents our commitment to harness the wealth of experience and skillsets in the Kansas City region and develop new talent to expand our capabilities and customer impact.”

The tech startup last month received a $30 million investment in a fundraising series led by San Francisco’s WestCap Group.

“I can think of no better place for Torch.AI to grow,” Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said in a news release. “They will bring sophisticated, high-wage tech jobs, and their decision to locate this expansion in our state enhances our pedigree as a destination for forward-thinking tech experts. I look forward to seeing the incredible developments that will undoubtedly come from this new facility.”

In a Friday news release, the company said it received $27 million in tax incentives from Kansas to create nearly 500 jobs here.

Bill Murphy, deputy commerce secretary for business development, said the total amount of incentives had not yet been determined.

The company has agreed to create 490 new jobs over the next five years with an average salary of $117,500, he said. It has also agreed to make a $44 million capital investment in facilities and supplies, he said.

Murphy said Torch.AI will likely benefit from the Kansas Job Creation Fund, the Promoting Employment Across Kansas program, the High Performance Incentive Program and the Kansas Industrial Training Program. Those will provide a mix of income tax credits, sales tax exemptions and state grant dollars if the company meets its commitments.

“If they don’t create the jobs or they don’t make the investment, they don’t get the incentives,” he said.

Kansas has traditionally excelled in recruiting and retaining aerospace manufacturing, agricultural and warehousing jobs. But high tech and corporate headquarters jobs have lagged.

“That’s why I think it’s particularly exciting for us to see an announcement like this,” Muphy said.

Officials said Torch.AI’s continued growth here and its high profile in the national security space will help Kansas City attract and retain top talent, particularly recent or soon-to-be college graduates.

“It’s critical to not only grow existing companies but also attract emerging enterprises like Torch.AI that are highly sought after by regions across the U.S.,” Tim Cowden, Kansas City Area Development Council president and CEO, said in a news release. “This is truly exciting news for our region and a precursor of what can be for KC.”

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