TIES (Technology Information and Educational Services) — A 50 year old education training and technology organization has rebranded as Sourcewell and relocated to the Midway District in St. Paul.
Originally formed in 1967 by the Minnesota Legislature as a cooperative among dozens of rural school districts, TIES evolved over the years more broadly into a technology reseller of administration software, student reporting and data warehousing, hardware and software procurement, and professional development for educators.
While they owned the market and the stack for decades, the state-granted monopoly slowly faded as the edutech playing field leveled over time, bringing in competition from the private market that could better serve Minnesota’s districts, teachers, and K-12 students.
After years of financial mismanagement into the tens of millions of dollars at TIES, the 45 remaining governing district members finally decided to pull the plug on TIES last year, resulting in the release of their 6+ acre taxpayer subsidized campus at the intersection Snelling and Larpenteur Ave. in Falcon Heights, near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
Yet TIES has resurfaced again in a different nonprofit form with new operating management under the auspices of a state-sponsored entity called Sourcewell which was previously known as National Joint Powers Alliance.
Sourcewell plans to combine select assets of the former TIES with its own resources to see if-and-how it can meet these independent district needs as it relates to technology. According to their website, “Sourcewell has helps government, education, and nonprofit agencies operate more efficiently,” and is managed by a group of school board members, elected representatives, and other government agencies.
Sourcewell is reported to have inked a new ~25k square foot lease inside the “Midway Innovation Center” located at 2340 Energy Park Drive in St. Paul where approximately 75 TIES now Sourcewell employees will call home. Initially constructed in mid-2000’s for Secure Computing, which was bought-out and shipped to California shortly after, McAfee most recently occupied the land until 2018 when they too pulled out of it, downsized, and moved over to Minneapolis.
What a unique building this must. On top of that legacy, just last month, the State of Minnesota had to pay Alula taxpayer money to move there. Unsurprisingly, the terms of Sourcewell’s new lease are not being publicly disclosed, but for the sake of the students – let’s hope the questionable conduct of TIES past doesn’t carry over with it into the future under the facade of innovation.