An out-of-town technology company is exploring Omaha sites to possibly open an office that could employ hundreds of people.
The company had representatives in town this week touring locations in the downtown area, according to several people with knowledge of the search who spoke on the condition that they not be named.
Job postings on the website of a company called Toast point to the Boston-based restaurant-technology firm as a company scouting for Omaha sites. The company focuses on electronic restaurant point-of-sale systems. (Think a very modern version of a cash register.) Its software also deals with restaurant management, inventory, sales data and loyalty programs, according to company materials.
A Toast publicist, responding to an inquiry from The World-Herald, declined to comment. She said the company’s officials were unavailable Thursday evening.
Officials from the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, which recruits businesses to town, also declined to comment.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert gave a clue as to the firm’s identity about a week ago, when speaking at a public neighborhood town hall meeting about the city’s bid for another tech firm — this time giant Amazon, which is on the hunt for a second headquarters.
Omaha fell short of many of Amazon’s requirements, the mayor said, but she offered: “I will tell you we just landed a great tech company. Just found out the other day they’re going to build downtown. And, originally it’s going to create 200 to 300 jobs and eventually around 1,000 jobs,” she said at the South Omaha town hall.
“And they’re a tech company, a point-of-sales (company). They’re coming to Omaha. They’ll be in the downtown area.”
The mayor didn’t name the company. Neither she nor her staff responded to questions from The World-Herald on Thursday.
Toast has two job openings in Omaha posted on its website. It currently has no office in Omaha. It’s seeking a “Help Desk Manager” and a “Customer Support Team Lead.”
The job description for the help desk manager says, in part: “Part of this role may initially include some facilities responsibilities, while we grow our presence in the building and hire more people in this area.”
The people familiar with the matter who declined to be identified told The World-Herald that a technology company was interested mostly in downtown sites to potentially set up an office site that would supplement its headquarters.
The possibility of adding hundreds of new jobs to the central business district comes as Omaha’s latest office market report reflects better news for downtown.
“For the second quarter in a row, the leasing highlight in the Omaha office market was the downtown submarket,” said an analysis of the office vacancy rate by Omaha’s Colliers International.
Among the city’s large transactions during the third quarter were the Chamber of Commerce’s lease of about 22,000 square feet on the Conagra campus.
Colliers said: “The downtown submarket vacancy rate has been on quite a roller coaster ride the past few years, rising from a low 7.9 percent vacancy rate at the end of 2015 to a high vacancy rate of 15.5 percent in 2016.”
The current downtown vacancy rate has improved to 11.7 percent. The vacancy rate for the broader Omaha area is about 11 percent.
Area real estate developers say Omaha has become more widely known among the nation’s startups and in the tech industry, and has been on the radar of various employers seeking office space.
AOL co-founder Steve Case last year chose Omaha and Lincoln to kick off his “Rise of the Rest” tour, an effort to support startups in sometimes overlooked cities. Case’s blog later predicted a shift that would put Omaha in a prime position to lure startups and money.
World-Herald staff writers Emily Nohr and Paige Yowell contributed to this report.
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