Tech triumph

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012

By Jon Bell

0512_TechTriumphIf you ask Andy von Flotow, a little bit of California dust from 20 years ago may have had as much to do with the rise of technology-based businesses in the Columbia River Gorge as anything.

In the spring of 1992, von Flotow had enough of being an MIT aeronautics professor and enough of East Coast living. He wanted to move west, so he made a couple reconnaissance missions, one to California and one to Oregon. On his visit to the Santa Cruz area, von Flotow found it nice, but incredibly dusty. When he spent a weekend in Hood River, the sun was out, the blossoms in bloom and the mountain in full glory — the kind of conditions that would make just about anybody want to move to Hood River.

Von Flotow bought an old orchard and farmhouse that weekend and moved his family out soon thereafter.

“It was really the most arbitrary of decisions,” he says. “Who wouldn’t want to move to the nicer place?”

Soon after von Flotow planted roots in Hood River, his friend and Stanford classmate, Tad McGeer, moved to the area and the two co-founded a small unmanned aerial vehicle company called Insitu across the river in Bingen, Wash.

Fast-forward 20 years, and Insitu’s UAVs have since logged hundreds of thousands of hours of military and civilian missions around the world. Boeing bought the company for a reported $400 million in 2008; revenue hit the same number in 2010. Today, more than 800 people work for Insitu, with hundreds more finding work in technology startups that sprung up directly from or around Insitu along the way.

And there’s Google, which built a data center complex in The Dalles in 2006, in part because of the region’s climate and cheap power, along with the scores of small companies and solo tech entrepreneurs who’ve set up virtual shop in the Gorge as a way to work while indulging in the region’s renowned quality of life. Arbitrary or not, it makes for a vibrant and expanding scene centered around technology.

“The tech sector in general has grown significantly, a lot of which has been fueled by the growth of Insitu,” says Jessica Metta, executive director of the Gorge Tech Alliance, an industry nonprofit based in The Dalles. “But lots of other companies are growing as well. There’s definitely a nexus out here.”

 



 

More Articles

Man for All Seasons

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

A longtime technologist and entrepreneur, Dwayne Johnson, 53, is managing partner of PDXO/GlobeThree Ventures, a strategy and business consultancy in Portland.


Read more...

5 ways successful people kickstart the day

The Latest
Thursday, April 02, 2015
coffeethumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Are mornings the most productive part of the day?  We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.


Read more...

Much ado about data-driven organizations, for good reason

Contributed Blogs
Monday, April 13, 2015
bigdatathumbBY GRANT KIRBY | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

The mega-shift from technology-driven to data-driven organizations raises questions about Oregon’s workforce preparedness.


Read more...

The best crisis is the one you avoid

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
crisisthumbBY GARY CONKLING | GUEST BLOGGER

Avoiding a crisis is a great way to burnish your reputation, increase brand loyalty and become a market leader.


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

Celestial Eats

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER AND EILEEN GARVIN

A power lunch at Solstice Wood Fire Cafe & Bar.


Read more...

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS