Tech triumph

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Though much of the evidence of tech-sector growth may be somewhat anecdotal, the GTA’s membership alone is one good indicator. Since Metta joined the organization in 2008, membership has doubled to just over 100. Companies include everything from aerospace and carbon-composite engineers to software and graphic firms. Though many of those members might be one-person operations, Metta says the combined membership represents more than 2,000 employees throughout five Gorge counties: Hood River, Wasco and Sherman in Oregon, and Skamania and Klickitat in Washington.

 

“It’s a fascinating mix,” says Michael McElwee, executive director of the Port of Hood River, adding that tech is one of four key economic clusters in the region alongside agriculture, food processing and recreation and tourism. “Our economy really reflects, I think, the kind of economy that many people would like to see the entire state have.”

Because of Insitu, the unmanned aerial vehicle industry has taken off in the Gorge and helped seed the region with a range of tech companies that either supply or sometimes compete with Insitu. It’s bound to stay that way for a while. In December, the company solidified its position in the Gorge when it announced it would be consolidating all of its production operations in Bingen; it plans to construct a 70,000-square-foot production facility and a 30,000-square-foot testing building.

Two former Insitu employees, Ross Hoag and Bill Vaglienti, left the company in 1999 and founded Hood River’s Cloud Cap Technology, which specializes in autopilot technology and camera systems for UAVs. Steve Olson also worked at Insitu before starting SightLine Applications in 2007; it focuses on video processing technology, again for UAVs. SightLine’s largest customer is Hood Technology, von Flotow’s firm that supplies Insitu with most of its launch catapults, camera turrets and other technology.

“There’s a ton of aerospace out here, so there’s lots of cross-pollination,” says Olson, whose company employs six and has offices in Hood River and Portland.

The Gorge has also proven popular with tech-minded entrepreneurs who come to the region not for its tech scene, but for its outdoor recreation and scenic beauty. Technology allows them to live in the area yet run companies reaching far beyond the Gorge.

Google, too, has found the Gorge to be a good fit for its data center in The Dalles. The company employs 70 full-time workers and about 80 different contractors at its two-building complex. A third building is in the works.

Site manager Dave Karlson says Google’s presence in the Gorge has helped fill out the tech sector. That has diversified the area’s economy, which in the past was weighted heavily toward the aluminum industry. When that sector got hit hard, so did the area.

“Now, we still all got hit by the recession, but there’s a lot of different pieces in tech and the engineering sector that help make it better than it used to be,” Karlson says.

Google is also involved with one of the bigger concerns facing the region’s tech sector: education. The company has invested in youth robotics, including making two of its community grants to the Gorge Tech Alliance so the alliance could purchase LEGO robotics kits. In 2010, there were 18 school robotics teams in the Gorge; last year, there were 73.

“Every tech player out there needs more engineers,” Karlson says. “Anything we can do to light that fire and get that magic started” will benefit everyone, he says.

 



 

More Articles

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...

Oregon Business expands events portfolio

The Latest
Friday, March 27, 2015
htctfacebookBY OB STAFF

New events series brings magazine to life.


Read more...

Letting Go

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.


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...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


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...

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


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