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

Frothy Battle

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

Latest development in Nestlé plant saga sparks debate about the value of water.


Read more...

100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

As momentum grows at the state level to introduce far-reaching environmental regulations, such as carbon pricing and the Clean Fuels Program, Oregon employers continue to go the extra mile to create green workplaces for their employees.


Read more...

The ancient fish that stops bullets

The Latest
Friday, May 08, 2015
hagfishthumbBY CHRIS NOBLE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Hagfish may not have evolved much over the last 300 million years, but their protein-heavy slime promises advances in super-materials.


Read more...

Change at the pump?

The Latest
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
001thumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

New Jersey and Oregon are the only two states in the U.S. that ban self serve gas stations. But these two holdouts may be ready to give up the game. New Jersey is considering legislation that would lift the state's ban on pumping your own gas. Oregon is considering smaller scale changes.


Read more...

Sun set

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

The right sunglasses can protect your eyes and look cool at the same time. This being the 21st century, select shades are socially conscious, too. Portland brand Shwood uses wood and other natural materials and manufactures locally. Founded by Ann Sacks, the brand Fetch dedicates a portion of its profits to animal welfare. But whether you choose classic tortiseshell or aviator chic, please, shed the sunglasses when you walk in the door — and, of course, at night. 


Read more...

Intrepid reporter checks out ZoomCare rebrand

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
dentistthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Like all good journalists, OB editorial staff typically eschew freebies. But health care costs being what they are, digital news editor Jacob Palmer couldn't resist ZoomCare's offer of a three-in-one (cleaning, exam, whitening) dental office visit, guaranteed to take no more than 57 minutes. 


Read more...

An uncertain future

Guest Blog
Thursday, May 21, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty is a part of doing business, whether in through the lens of investment opportunities and risks or the business of running an enterprise.


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