The Bend Bulletin (our local newspaper) has an interesting article online today: Tech Town, a profile of the local computer/tech industry and how it’s pulling “young, technically savvy people” to the area.
The conventional wisdom is that Bend is a great place to retire, but increasingly it is a great place for young, technically savvy people to live and work, too.
Bend officials envision an industrial park and university campus at the north end of town. The so-called Juniper Ridge project could become the cornerstone of an invigorated regional economy based on science, engineering and innovation.
If those companies materialize as planned, they will bring even more skilled workers to the region, workers like Marshall Simmonds, Morgan O’Neal and [Chris] Reese.
All three pointed to the character of Bend and outdoor recreation as drawing and keeping them here. That foundation, they said, makes the region ripe for new technology companies that will need to attract talented young workers.
The three people they profile are Chris Reese, technical director for Sony Bend (whom I’ve blogged about before); Morgan O’Neal (“a throwback to some of the early entrepreneurs of computing and the Internet. He has little formal training in technology”—is the Bulletin trying to be complimentary here? jeez), web developer with my old employer, Alpine Internet; and Marshall Simmonds, vice president of Enterprise Search Marketing for The New York Times Company by way of About.com. That’s a pretty diverse group, considering.
Still, it’s not entirely news that Bend is a high-tech region; technology is one of the industries that’s been growing like a weed for at least a decade (along with tourism) since the older industries like logging have been waning. Even so, this part is intriguing:
City officials and local business leaders for the last few years talked about bringing more high-tech companies to the community. Most recently, the city has been eyeing the Juniper Ridge project as a potential home for such businesses.
The first phase of Juniper Ridge development is already in the works, the city having annexed 500 acres it owns on the northeast edge of town. The city will select a master developer for the project, but the council is working with the region’s legislative delegation in Salem to site a four-year university there that can complement a contemplated high-tech industrial park.
Almost sounds like the play Klamath Falls made for high tech (“Silicon Basin,” anyone?)—the difference being, of course, that Bend is already supporting a viable tech industry. But what’s this about a university? Ah, I see from this Bend.com press release that it appears to be for OSU-Cascades and possibly Cascades Academy of Central Oregon. Interesting.