Sponsored by Lane Powell

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

Epitaph for a Boondoggle

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The CRC is a cautionary tale about how we plan for, finance and invest in transportation infrastructure.


Read more...

6 development projects reshaping Bend

The Latest
Thursday, April 09, 2015
bendthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Bend has reclaimed its prerecession title as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.


Read more...

5 highlights from the Angel Oregon Showcase

The Latest
Thursday, April 23, 2015
IMG 5069BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well at the Oregon Angel showcase, an annual event for angel investors and early stage entrepreneurs.


Read more...

Knight Cancer Challenge No Biotech Dream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The Knight challenge is an important instance of philanthropy. But we should not assume it will magically transform OHSU into a business- and job-spinning engine for the local economy.


Read more...

Energy Stream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Oregon already ranks as the nation’s second largest generator of hydroelectric power. (Washington is No. 1). Now an elegant new installation in Portland is putting an unconventional, sharing economy twist on this age-old water-energy pairing. The new system, launched this winter, uses the flow of water inside city water pipes to spin four turbines that produce electricity for Portland General Electric customers. 


Read more...

Beneath the Surface

May 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
0515-goodhacker01 250pxwBY LINDA BAKER

On April 1 I attended a forum at the University of Portland on the sharing economy. The event featured panelists from Lyft and Airbnb, as well as Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. Asked about the impact of tech-driven sharing economy services. Hales said the new business models are reshaping the landscape. “But,” he added, “I don’t pretend to understand how a lot of this [technology] works.” 


Read more...

Beyond Bodegas

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Five years in the making, the Portland Mercado — the city’s first Latino public market — will celebrate its grand opening April 11. A $3.5 million public-private partnership spearheaded by Hacienda CDC, the market will house 15 to 20 businesses in the food, retail and service sectors. It has some big-name funders, including the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. The project goals are equally ambitious: to improve cross-cultural understanding, alleviate poverty and spur community economic development. 


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