By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – Local banking software developer Oculus Software is one step closer to becoming the newest tenant of the Highlands Business Park following unanimous approval from the city council to sell a four-acre spot there.
Serving at least 62 banks in 15 states across the US, with the heaviest concentration in the southeast, Cookeville-based Oculus is poised to grow in the coming years – with plans to add 40 or so employees over the next five years, said Jonathan Loftis, Chief Technology Officer.
But what does Oculus do? The firm specializes in being “a one-stop shop”, providing financial management products to banks and similar institutions to improve and increase data management efficiency.
Products and services provided by the firm include BN Control, the company’s flagship product Loftis said, a financial information database geared to centralize data from all of a bank’s systems – including loans, deposits, operations, compliance, and tellers – in one accessible portal.
Another service, Oculus Lending, is a program designed to streamline loan underwriting and review processes, allowing management to access and review credit memos from any location within the bank.
“We also have an internet banking solution – internet banking, bill pay, mobile banking – a whole suite for banks,” Loftis said. “Most banks, just based off how the industry is trending, do not want to host their own data. They prefer to have their service provider host all of their data (and) come and deal with the IT infrastructure part.”
That’s where having a new, larger facility is key and where additional staff will be most needed. The new 10,000 square-foot facility is more than three times the current facility’s size.
“We obviously will need some sort of data center component to our facility to be able to host that data,” Loftis said. “That was probably what spurred the biggest need for the building.”
The current facility is approximately 3,000 square feet and is rented – ruling out plans for a sizable expansion to meet the needs of the growing business.
Oculus primarily serves community banks ranging from less than $100 million in assets to $2 billion.
If the purchase is approved by the county, half owner of the Highlands Business Park, construction on the new facility could be complete by January 2019.
“It’s always exciting to have the prospect of a new company locating in our Highlands Business Park, but even more rewarding when it’s the expansion of a longtime local business,” said Putnam County Executive Randy Porter. “Oculus Software is a great fit for our high-tech park and is the perfect cap to what has been a successful year for overall economic development and job growth in Putnam County.”
The proposed site, located at 12 Venture Dr., includes 4.3 acres and has a price tag of $20,000 per acre.
“They have a good long history here in Putnam County and are steeped in family,” said Melinda Keifer, Cookeville’s Economic and Community Development Coordinator, during the city council meeting Thursday. “They’re ready to grow and offer some new financial software products on the open market.”
The Putnam County Commission will weigh in on the property purchase when they meet later this month. Pending approval, a 120-day due diligence period would apply to allow for the completion of geotechnical surveys and other testing needed.
Average wages at Oculus amount to $27 per hour.