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Firespring has merged its managed IT services business with Bluestem Fiber, a Lincoln-based startup that provides high-speed fiber internet service. The resulting business will be called Bluestem IT, a division of Bluestem Fiber. The transaction also makes Firespring one of the primary shareholders in Bluestem Fiber along with founders Greg Dynek and Aaron Whyrick.

Bluestem Fiber provides gigabit broadband Internet connectivity via fiber and wireless to residential and business customers in eastern Nebraska communities. The company has experienced rapid growth since its inception in 2015. “The fiber industry is one of the fastest growing in the U.S. and we’re especially bullish on growth opportunities in Nebraska,” Wilkinson said.

Bluestem IT will provide managed IT services for existing clients of Bluestem and Firespring as well as new clients throughout the Midwest. Dynek believes the merger will help Bluestem grow faster since it creates a one-stop shop for businesses. “Companies need reliable network, storage, security and communications solutions. Bluestem is proud to deliver expanded IT solutions along with the high-speed internet connectivity necessary for operating a successful business.”

All employees of both companies will be retained and more positions will be added in the near future. Jeff Murphy, former vice president of Firespring Cloud IT will lead Bluestem IT. He sees the merger as a way to better serve customers. “By working together under the Bluestem umbrella, we can provide the most efficient solutions to our clients without the typical finger pointing that happens in our industry between internet service providers (ISPs) and managed service providers (MSPs).”

Wilkinson and Dynek have known each other for many years after having met through the Nebraska Angels investors group. Bluestem Fiber’s interest in pursuing the benefit corporation model to build a purpose-driven connectivity company sparked the idea of a combination. “We are pleased to be able to draw on both the technical expertise of the Firespring IT team and the cultural strength that Jay and his team have built at Firespring as we work to expand Bluestem’s reach,” said Dynek. Wilkinson will work with Bluestem on company culture initiatives and will assist the company in pursuing benefit corporation status. Firespring was the first such company in Nebraska. Among other things, Nebraska benefit corporations must demonstrate that the purpose of the corporation creates general public benefit and must  prepare and publish an annual benefit report detailing its social impact.