Eleutian - The Bridge to Globalization

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Sep 8, 2008

Eleutian Technology Opens in Cody

By Anthony McConnell

Joyce Cicco never imagined she would teach English to South Koreans.  Neither did Cathie Brixey, but that's exactly what the retired educators are doing.  And they don't have to leave the Big Horn Basin to do it.

Brixey and Cicco, both of Cody, are English teachers with Eleutian Technology based in Ten Sleep. The company also has offices in Powell, Lovell and Worland.

“It's wonderful,” Brixey said. “I love it.”

Eleutian uses a combination of local teachers, Internet-based lesson plans and video conferencing to teach English to people in South Korea.

“It's really great,” said Cicco, a retired tutor. “You're one-on-one with the students. You can see, more or less, whether or not they understand it. It's almost like you're in the same room.”

“It's different, but it's so much fun,” said Brixey, who was a teacher in Missouri for 27 years. “They want to learn to speak English.”

For now, the women travel to Eleutian's office at Northwest College, but by mid-November their commute will be much shorter.

There also are offices planned for Burlington, Buffalo, Casper, Sheridan and Thermopolis, according to Mike Moore, director of teacher operations for Eleutian.

About 10 teachers who commute to Powell now will soon work in Cody. The company eventually will have 50-60 certified teachers and more than 100 non-certified tutors in Cody. Eleutian currently employs about 115 people in the Big Horn Basin.

“Eventually we'll be one of the largest employers in the state,” said Brent Stanger, vice president of operations. “Next year we'll start to expand from the Big Horn Basin.

“This is an amazing business,” he added. “It's great for Wyoming because we don't compete with anyone.”

While Eleutian will expand its operations to other areas in the state, they don't plan to leave the area, Moore and Stanger say.

CEO and founder Kent Holiday has family in Ten Sleep and it was during a visit that he decided to establish Eleutian there.

“The original plan was to open near a large university,” Moore says. “But the infrastructure was already here in the basin.”

Eleutian started offering services in March and now serves three universities, 13 public schools and several corporations in South Korea. It teaches about 2,000 students.

The company also has plans to expand to other Asian markets, including China and Japan.

“That's not too bad for a company that started (a year ago) in Ten Sleep,” Moore said.

Stanger credits Eleutian's “rapid success” to the high-speed fiber optic network established throughout much of the Big Horn Basin by TCT West.

The company also has worked with various government agencies to secure low-cost office space. Recently Eleutian struck a deal with Park County to lease 1,000 square feet of space upstairs in the Park County Complex for $1 per square foot during its first year.

Part of the deal requires Eleutian to provide high-speed Internet access to the building. For now the access will come from TCT's high-speed wireless microwave system, which provides service similar to fiber optics, Stanger says.

Eventually TCT will install fiber optics in the building, but it can't happen until it has a franchise agreement with the city.