Tech triumph

Tech triumph

As the Gorge’s tech sector has continued to grow, it’s also been maturing. Jeff Nicol, a former Intel manager now involved with several tech endeavors in the Gorge, says he’s seen that in how support services for tech businesses have evolved.


“With insurance folks, things like aviation products liability — five or 10 years ago, nobody knew what that was,” he says. “Now they all do. There’s been lots of maturation there.”

Similarly, new construction projects have sprung up in part as a response to increased activities in the region’s tech and other clusters. The Port of Hood River’s Waterfront Business Park has undergone extensive redevelopment, including new and renovated buildings for Hood Technology, Real Carbon and Turtle Island Foods, among others. If all goes well, the redevelopment projects on the waterfront could bring in nearly $40 million in private investment. On top of that, Naito Development has submitted plans for an 88-room, waterfront Hampton Inn Suites hotel with conference rooms, two commercial buildings and a cable park, which provides a waterskiing or wakeboarding experience via an overhead cableway.

Nicol says such accommodations will help meet the demand of out-of-towners visiting on business trips.

Ken Levy has been behind three different tech startups from his home in Stevenson, Wash., over the past 15 years. His latest, 4-Tell, launched in 2009, creates product recommendation software for online retailers. He’s seen the sector grow, particularly as a result of Insitu’s success.

“Before that, you couldn’t really grow a big company out here,” Levy says. “You’d hit the 30-person point and then you’d have to start pulling people from Portland or somewhere else. Now, you often don’t have to look that far anymore.”