Sponsored by Lane Powell
Home Back Issues January 2010 Roseburg gets an incubator

Roseburg gets an incubator

| Print |  Email
Articles - January 2010
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Light-Bulbs
ILLUSTRATION BY AMBER TAYLOR

City officials in Roseburg have tried mightily but without much luck to diversify the local economy in a town where the largest employer is still Roseburg Forest Products. But a recent $2.75 million federal grant and an ambitious plan to lure technology startups may change that.

The Roseburg Business Incubator and Data Center, or RBIC, is the brainchild of city manager Eric Swanson and Mark Bilton-Smith, president of Rio Networks, which is owned by the Cow Creek band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Swanson, Bilton-Smith and other conspirators from the county and community college designed a proposal for the RBIC to be constructed in the old Douglas County Farmers Co-Op, a 25,190-square-foot building in Roseburg’s downtown that has been vacant for years.

The incubator, which will open in the spring, has room for up to 28 businesses that would receive mentoring and exposure to investors. The basement level will house a data center comparable to a Google or Amazon server farm like the ones along the Columbia River. The data center will use a natural cooling system that ventilates underground air to cut down on electricity costs.

Bilton-Smith says the data center will entice Internet providers such as Verizon to build fiber-optic infrastructure to give Roseburg higher Internet speeds — a boon for businesses and residents.

Economic development officials are still sore over the fact that a Dell call center lured by the city suddenly shuttered and moved overseas two years ago, laying off 220 people. Bilton-Smith and city manager Eric Swanson toured business incubators in other cities, including Portland and Corvallis, and designed the RBIC to nurture businesses and entrepreneurs from the beginning, making them loyal to the local community.

But Swanson and Bilton-Smith feel the incubator’s biggest asset is Roseburg itself — its livability, natural beauty and small-town feel, plus easy access to I-5. “Steve Jobs and the Microsoft guys of the future will want to come to a place like Roseburg and live in a place like Roseburg,” Swanson says.

The city also owes a lot to the Cow Creek tribe, which owns the building and received the grant. “We’re all about trying to revitalize downtown Roseburg,” says chairwoman Sue Shaffer.

Bilton-Smith says the incubator already has three prospective “anchor” tenants — established businesses that will rent space until the startups come along. He expects the incubator to be half retail and established businesses in the beginning, with startups gradually filling in the rest of the offices.

Roseburg’s population is about 21,000 and unemployment in Douglas County was 15.9% in October. Based on what he saw at other incubators, Swanson estimates that at least 165 local jobs and $60,000 in outside investment will be generated by businesses that grow up in the incubator. “Of course, one of the businesses could create 5,000 jobs if it was the right thing,” he says. 

ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

More Articles

College Hacker

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KLINT FINLEY

Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson builds a 21st-century trade school.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Pete Friedes

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

082714-thumb friedesbookTom Cox interviews Pete Friedes, author of "The 2R Manager," about becoming a Best Boss.


Read more...

Register for 100 Best Companies survey

News
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
OBM-100-best-logo-2015 150pxwBy Kim Moore | OB Editor

The 2015 survey launched this week. It is open to for-profit private and public companies that have at least 15 full- or part-time employees in Oregon.


Read more...

Fast Food Slows Down

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

The ubiquitous fast-food restaurant may be on the decline.


Read more...

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

Why I became an Oregon angel investor

Guest Blog
Monday, July 14, 2014
AngelInvestBY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE

I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.


Read more...

Two sides of the coin

Contributed Blogs
Monday, August 25, 2014
0825 thumb moneyBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.


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