Editor’s note: RTP Beat is a regular feature on Thursdays.Shsssssh, can you keep a secret? If the U.S. government agrees, you’re in demand.

Durham-based Blue Shoe Technologies, which does a variety of technology jobs for the military and federal government agencies, has added about 15 people in the last year. But it’s still looking for staff with general and top secret clearance.

Andrew Schwab, president and chief executive officer of Blue Shoe, tells Local Tech Wire, “One of the greatest difficulties we face is getting people with top secret clearances. Getting someone cleared can take more than a year.”

Blue Shoe currently employs 24 people, 21 in the Triangle.

The company provides professional technology services to largely government and military clients such as the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg. Founded in 1995 and privately funded, the company recently landed additional government contracts and expects to continue growth throughout this year, Schwab says.

The market for people with top secret clearance got tighter after 9-11 and will probably remain so for a few years. “Then the market may right itself, and supply will meet demand” says Schwab.

People with clearance are necessary so they can get the unfettered access to the military facilities they need to complete some of Blue Shoe’s work.

He says the company’s average contracts are mostly in the hundred thousands range and its annual revenue is under $10 million.

Blue Shoe does the usual range of tech consultant chores for its clients, dealing with different types of complex software and IT solutions. It has done a lot of work in e-learning and distance learning, Schwab says.

The company has recently started seeking clients for its information assurance services, providing network and information technology security. That, Schwab says, “Is all about defending information systems by making sure there are policies and technologies in place to protect it.”

Blue Shoe does assessments, certification and training in information assurance, essentially protecting IT resources.

Schwab says that the company plans to expand its marketing to commercial companies for that and other services. “This may be more important in the federal space, but it’s becoming important in the commercial space, too, due to legislation requiring companies to be aware of how their systems are protected and managed. It’s becoming a critical job.”

Schwab notes that Blue Shoe is independent of software or hardware products. “A lot of companies represent different products and try to shoehorn them into a solution. We use all sorts of off-the-shelf products, but we don’t have any preferred offering.”

Bronto lands clients

Bronto Software (formerly Bronto Mail) added 48 new clients in the first quarter this year, says Joe Collopy, president.

“They included Kenan Flagler Business School, Tekelec and the Massachusetts Health Association,” he says. “We’re coming into our own a bit.”

The company sells Web-based email management software for lists, newsletters, surveys and other customer relationship management purposes. Both Collopy and his partner left Red Hat to found the company. Collopy suggests that to some extent, Red Hat seeds startup development in the Triangle the way Microsoft and other successful tech companies have elsewhere.

Bronto’s 150 clients include companies, universities, and non profits worldwide, Collopy says.

He also says that Bronto plans to move into the Downtown Durham American Tobacco Building in June. Intersouth Partners follows in October.

Bronto’s Web site also says the company is hiring.

Inspiring walk

Inspire Pharmaceuticals and the Carolinas Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) are hosting the first annual Great Strides fundraising walk in Research Triangle Park April 22.

Free food and refreshments as well as live entertainment from The Retros, a popular local band, are planned for the walkers. Companies and individuals may participate or offer their support by contacting Katie Schmitt at (919) 845-2155.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for Inspire Pharmaceuticals and other RTP-based businesses to give back to the community,” said Christy Shaffer, Ph.D., CEO of Inspire.

Other companies supporting the first annual RTP Great Strides Walk include Cardinal Health, Carvel Ice Cream, Cisco Systems, Damons Grill, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, ISA, Marriott, PPD, RTI International, SRK Communications, and TriProperties.

CFF is also partnering with Inspire Pharmaceuticals to host An Evening with Master Chefs on Sunday, April 18.

Carolinas Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: carolinas@cff.org

Blue Shoe Technologies: www.blueshoe.com

Bronto Software: www.bronto.com