GTA Board of Directors Welcomes Two New Members

Gorge Tech Alliance members and sponsors recently had the opportunity to vote for new Board members in an online election. Congratulations and welcome to our two newest Board members: Jaime Mack, CEO/CTO of Zepher Inc. and Rachel McKay, VP of Product Operations at Overwatch Imaging.

  • Jaime has been an active member in the Gorge technical community for many years. She was originally drawn to the Gorge to work in the composites industry, but quickly transitioned to Insitu, becoming one of the first 50 employees. Her career has grown with the Gorge and her businesses: Zepher and Zepher Flight Laboratories. As an engineer turned CTO then CED, Jamie has firsthand experience of the rapid growth, both technically and economically, in our community. She has supported both friends and colleagues in their efforts to grow their own businesses and expand into new markets. As a business owner, she experiences the triumphs and challenges of running a high-tech community in a rural area amid the economic boom/bust times, in addition to the challenges of the COVID pandemic. She volunteers in the community and proudly assists with the MakerSpace in White Salmon. Through grants, she has developed and sustained a non-profit STEM program that incorporates science education and sailing, the Gorge Junior Sailing program.

  • As the VP of Product Operations at Overwatch Imaging, as well as in her prior role as the Chief Systems Engineer at Insitu, Rachel worked to connect, support, and develop our tech community in the Columbia River Gorge. She has exhibited this commitment within the industry through coaching and mentoring employees and co-workers, internationally during speaking events within the Leading Ladies of Aerospace group, as being on the Board for Aviation Women Inspiring the Next Generation (AWING). Locally she volunteers her time as the Chief Science Officer for a STEAM group at Wy’East Middle School and prepared content for the local Gorge Career Challenge last year. Rachel is excited to take a more formal step in supporing the high-tech cluster of the Gorge by serving on the GTA Board.

These two new members will add even more talent and skill to the GTA Board, and we are thrilled to have them on the team. A special thank you to three Executive Committee Board members who are completing two terms this year and have been integral in achieving the goals of our strategic plan: Steve Olson, SightLine Applications, Greg Davis, Overwatch Imaging, and Lori Nelson, Housecall Providers.

 

Oregon Employee Advancement Grant Opportunity

This funding opportunity, from East Cascade Works, was designed to support your company in both employee retention and recruitment. Employee Advancement and Assistance Grants are for employers within the ten counties EC Works serves, including Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, and Gillam Counties, who are looking for resources to support training and upskilling for their current workforce. EC Works will fund applications (until funds are depleted) that present an opportunity for employers to build and maintain a quality workforce while creating new employment opportunities.

This opportunity will pay particular attention to training that provides current employees an opportunity for advancement and wage gains within their company, as well as those that create opportunities to backfill positions with new employees. Employers are encouraged to partner with their local WorkSource center to identify potential candidates for backfill opportunities.

Click here to learn more and apply for this grant

Mid-Columbia Innovation Hub Survey

Mid-Columbia Economic Development District has partnered with consultants from EcoNorthwest to begin exploring assets of the Gorge to develop an Innovation Hub. The Mid-Columbia region prides itself on having a broad network of support for those starting or growing a business. This study is to help identify any gaps in that system as part of larger Regional Innovation Hub project programming. The larger goal of this study is to foster innovation in the region by helping companies that develop new technologies, products or processes. Understanding what structural barriers exist and what could be done to reduce them will help entrepreneurs spend less time navigating the system and more time building their business. 
 
This survey will take ten minutes to complete. Results will be used by service providers and their funders to understand how to best serve you and those in your community. Please email kristyn@mcedd.org with any questions.
 

Alternative Commuting Options in the Gorge

If you weren’t able to make it to the special Human Resources virtual meeting this month, it doesn’t mean your company has to miss out on the amazing information we shared! We connected with Kim Curley, Commute Options, and Kathy Fitzpatrick, Gorge TransLink Alliance, about alternative commuting options for employees in our region and exciting upcoming subsidy opportunities. Below you will find information about vanpools, carpools, and more that are available (or will soon be available) in our region.

Recruiting and retaining employees can be a challenge, and work satisfaction today plays a big role. That includes the commute, which for many onsite employees has become longer and more costly. Bring your workforce a smarter way to commute with vanpooling. Vanpools let employees (typically 4-15) who live near each other and have longer commutes (about 20+ miles) share the ride to work and the costs. It’s a win-win that makes employee commutes better, serves as a retention and recruitment tool, and helps achieve other business goals.

  • Vanpool – Commute Options – This is an example program that explains the vanpool subsidy in Central Oregon (Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson counties). This is the TYPE of program that will be coming to the gorge later this year through The Link and CAT. 
  • Get There Oregon – Find and share a ride! – Free to anyone over the age of 18 who lives/works in Oregon. Individuals register on the tool and can utilize the trip planning for transit, carpool, and bike/walk trips. You can further engage using Get There by signing up for the Get There Rewards program (for worksites in Oregon) where employees earn rewards for choosing transportation options (TO). 
  • Home – Get There Southwest WA – The service area for this program is still being researched and will be announced soon!

If you’d like more information, you can download this PDF or reach out via email to Kim or Kathy.

 

 

Application Period for the 2023 Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship is Now Closed!

Corwin Hardham Scholarship Applic

Applications for the 2023 Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship are now OPEN. This scholarship is awarded annually to Gorge high school seniors pursuing post-secondary degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Eligible students are those from Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Skamania, and Klickitat Counties who are graduating from high school, home school, or receiving a GED in the spring/ summer.

The 2023 Scholarship Application period is now closed.

Learn more about Corwin Hardham and this scholarship in his honor here.

Please contact Kristyn Fix with questions.


Please consider a donation now to help the GTA continue supporting the next generation of STEM-focused leadership in the Gorge! The fund is held at the Gorge Community Foundation. CLICK HERE and select the “Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship Fund” for receipt of your tax-deductible donation. 

Biz OR Small Business & Microenterprise Grant Program

Oregon small business and microenterprise assistance is now available through an accessible grant program. The Oregon Business Development Department has partnered with CCD Business Development Corporation, a private nonprofit economic development organization, to administer and process the $3 million dollars allocated to the CDBG-CV Statewide Emergency Small Business & Microenterprise Grant Program. This program is funded with federal grant funds from the Oregon Community Development Block Grant program CARES Act funding for communities affected by COVID-19.

Applications open on Monday, January 23 and you can visit the site here to learn more or download this one-pager to share with others in your sector who may be eligible.

Business Oregon: State of Oregon’s Uncrewed Aerial Systems & Economic Impact

Uncrewed Aerial Systems (“UAS” or “drones”) are one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. Business Oregon commissioned an analysis to evaluate the size of the State’s UAS sector and to evaluate the total economic impact of UAS on the State’s Economy. UAS companies were surveyed to estimate their UAS‐related employment and to determine what their role in the UAS sector is. Many companies provide goods and services to aerospace companies, and companies were asked to estimate only their UAS‐related employment.

The state of Oregon has been an early leader in the UAS sector for much of the last decade. This early leadership in the UAS sector is generally attributable to two factors. First, the location of Insitu across the Columbia River, an early UAS success story, resulted in the creation of a cluster of support contractors, particularly in the sensor and optics fields. In addition, the creation of the Pendleton UAS Test Range resulted in a robust research, development, and testing center for UAS companies. Pendleton was a partner in the Alaska‐Hawaii‐Oregon UAS Test Site program, authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2014. Tillamook and Warm Springs are also partners in the test site program. To read the rest of the report and learn more CLICK HERE.