Gorge UAS Cluster Development

The Innovation Cluster Accelerator Program (ICAP) Launch is a pilot program funded through Washington state’s EDA Statewide Planning Grant.  The program provides training to support the development of industry ecosystems with new and emerging potential innovation clusters in rural and underserved communities in Washington state.

In 2023, MCEDD was awarded this grant for the development of an innovation cluster among the gorge’s uncrewed aerial system (UAS) and remote sensing companies. With support from the GTA, the group convened professionals from industry, academia, and government to create the cluster framework and further develop networks and ideas to sustain and support the region’s industries. The team’s discussions identified challenges and opportunities for development, created an awareness of the region’s companies and innovation among regional, state, and federal leaders, and started work on projects to bolster our local industry.  To learn more about this work and/or to get involved, click here or contact jason@mcedd.org.

GTA Member Spotlight: Magnum Custom Works

Magnum Custom Works logoAbout the Company

Magnum Custom Works is located in Hood River and provides custom Cerakote services for automotive and aerospace/UAV projects. Cerakote is a specialty sealant that is a ceramic paint coating that can be applied very thinly and provides super protection from heat, UV and corrosive substances such as oil/ gas etc.

Joe applying CerakoteThe business grew out of a need for local Cerakote services that Joe first encountered in his work as an Engineering Technician at Trillium. Looking for a heat and UV resistant, lightweight paint coating for Trillium’s gimbal mounts, Joe’s research led to Cerakote, which is produced in Medford, Oregon.  With the proper material identified for the project, the next step was to get the coating applied to the surfaces. Joe started looking around for a local service shop to do this work and quickly discovered that there weren’t any.

Magnum Custom Works shop floorIn 2022, Joe and Lorie decided together that there was sufficient demand for Cerakote services to support a full-time business. Under Lorie’s expert financial guidance, the oven in the shop has now expanded to two sandblasters, two ovens (pictured on the left), and two spray booths. 

Joe is now self-employed with a business that has dual customer bases in the local UAV industry and in the automotive industry. Magnum Custom Works provides local in-person support, quality work and quick turn around times for their customers. Cerakote can be applied in a whole variety of colors to suit whatever the customer needs.

Cerakoted engine

About the Founders

Joe Griffith and Lorie Repp are a husband and wife team whose business started out in their basement as a side gig. Joe is the business’ one-man customer service and production crew who works under the watchful eyes of their Shop Manager Magnum, pictured at right.  Lorie is a bookkeeper by trade and manages all of the company’s finances.

Joe and Lorie on a road trip






Gorge local residents for over 3 decades, Joe and Lori are both active in the community. They both volunteer with Hood River’s Westside Fire Department, and Joe coaches robotics for his twin boys. The couple shares a passion for travelling adventures and have taken some amazing camping road trips together, including Route 66 and Highway 20 across the US.


About Business in the GorgeCerakote gimbal mounted under airplane wing

Magnum Custom Works partners with GTA member Delta Sierra Aviation to provide support for the flight testing of gimbals. The company has also developed a working relationship with Columbia Gorge Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing and Fabrication Department.

About the GTA

When asked about what he and his business have gained as part of the GTA, Joe replied, “We really enjoy the networking and idea sharing that takes place within the GTA. The support is very informative and helpful. We are a growing company and we are always looking for ways to support the needs of GTA members and other Gorge companies.”

Quick Links

Contact:   Joe Griffith

Phone:   541-490-5683

Email Contact: magnumcustomworks@gmail.com

Company Website: magnumcustomworks.com

GTA Website:  Magnum Custom Works

Social media pages:  Linked In ; Facebook

2024 Corwin Hardham Scholarships Awarded

This year’s Corwin Hardham Scholarship Fund was able to give out two scholarships!  Hood River Valley High School students Erandy Galindo Chamonica and Alondra Ramirez were selected from this year’s pool of applicants. The GTA’s Scholarship Committee used a scoring matrix to determine the two finalists, which was then forwarded to the Gorge Community Foundation Board of Directors for final approval.

Erandy Galindo Chamonica is a first-generation student with plans to study landscape architecture. Erandy’s scholarship essay explains how overcoming linguistic, cultural, and first-generation barriers that required learning a second language while executing at the same level and pace as her classmates developed her strong determination and capacity for endurance. She described the two primary focuses of her volunteer work during her high school years. Her volunteer work with the Food Bank brought her to an awareness and recognition that she is “at home” within the Gorge’s migrant Hispanic culture. With STEM as her primary educational focus, Miss Galindo Chamonica has also focused on STEM volunteer opportunities, where she found that curiosity, determination and creativity were foundational for skill building. Her goal to become a landscape architect was driven by her desire to develop her own unique designs that will “create a love for life through functional and beautiful architecture, particularly through building functional and attractive housing areas in poor minority communities.” She describes how her goals “were developed through her personal life experiences from living in migrant housing all my life, along with my love for design and drawing since childhood.”    

Alondra Ramirez’ career goal is focused on the medical field, and has grown directly from her personal life experience with traumatic health events, which has fostered in her a strong desire to gain skills that will allow her to actively help others in healthcare crisis situations. Her high school classes in Medical Terminology, Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Reading/Writing 115, and Writing 121/122 were all taken to better prepare herself for a career in the healthcare field. Miss Ramirez’ volunteer experience at Providence Hospital in the Family Birth Center has also revolved around her career goals, with plan to continue this summer with an internship at One Community Health to gain even more experience in healthcare and to create connections for future opportunities.

Miss Galindo Chamonica and Miss Alondra Ramirez both have impressive records of volunteer community service, practical work experiences and excellent academic records. Both young ladies are deserving recipients of the 2024 Corwin Hardham Scholarship and are to be congratulated. The GTA proudly launched the Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2015, and the scholarship is awarded annually to Gorge high school seniors pursuing post-secondary degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). All graduating students from Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Skamania, and Klickitat counties are eligible, including those who are graduating from high school, home school, or receiving a GED in the spring and/or summer.  Donations to the fund can be made here.

2024 STEM College Scholarship Application Open!

Applications for the 2024 Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship are now available. Completed applications must be received by the GTA by 5:00 pm on Friday, March 8th, 2024. 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 2024 application is now available here. Please contact Jason with questions.

2023 Gorge Tech and STEM Leaders Honored at GTA’s Winter Party

The Gorge Technology Alliance (GTA) held its eleventh annual awards program on December 12, 2023, recognizing the Tech Leader and STEM Educator of the Year and honoring all finalists who were nominated for the two awards.
Steve Olson accepts 2023 Tech Leader Award from Jessica Metta
Steve Olson and Jordan Holt, founders of SightLine Applications, were honored as the 2023 Tech Leaders of the Year. Founding the company in Hood River in 2007, Steve and Jordan have made SightLine Applications a great place to work and had the significant achievement in July 2023 of receiving a strategic investment from Artemis Capital Partners. The investment from Artemis, a Boston-based private equity firm, will help pave the way for remarkable growth and development. Steve is also a long-time leader with the GTA, serving in the past on the Board and as President for many years. Learn more at sightlineapplications.com.
Jack Perrin accepts 2023 STEM Educator Award from Jessica MettaThe 2023 STEM Educator of the Year was awarded to Jack Perrin, Founder and Director of Gorge MakerSpace in White Salmon, whose mission is to empower and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to explore and build their creative skills. Since 2014, Jack has been selflessly bringing youth and adult classes to the community, leading youth robotics in White Salmon, and finding new ways to reach students less represented in STEM careers like girls and Latino students. Jack is also well known in the Gorge for his STEM leadership, serving on numerous advisory committees to stay at the forefront of new STEM initiatives and opportunities to provide better outcomes for his students. As one benefit of this award, the GTA has donated $1000 to Gorge MakerSpace. Learn more at Gorgemakerspace.com.

Additional STEM Educator finalists honored included Chuck Webber, CTE/Computer Science teacher and VEX robotics coach at The Dalles High School, and Jamie Sowell, South Wasco High School’s Director of Technology and VEX robotics coach.
The GTA’s annual awards program recognizes and thanks the many companies, organizations and individuals working to advance the tech industry and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the Columbia River Gorge. The GTA Technology Leader and STEM Education Leader of the Year awards are presented to the individual or organization who made the largest positive impact on the technology and STEM education community of the Columbia River Gorge. Nominations are accepted from across the Gorge and all finalists are celebrated at the annual Winter Party for their leadership and hard work.  

Tech and STEM Leader Award Nominations for 2023 are now open!

Gorge Tech Alliance logoThe GTA is excited to announce that we are now accepting nominations for our annual awards program to recognize outstanding achievement among the Tech Leaders and STEM Educators of the Gorge. Nominations must be submitted by November 20th, 9:00 a.m. to be considered.   The winners will be announced at the GTA’s Winter Party and Awards Ceremony on Dec. 12.   Only complete nomination forms will be considered.  Contact Jason with questions.

Tech Leader Award

Tech Leader of the Year recognizes the outstanding achievement over the last year (Oct 1, 2022 to Sept 30, 2023) on the part of an individual or company that principally provides technology products, services, or support in the Columbia River Gorge. This award will be presented to the nominated tech individual or tech company with the largest positive impact on the tech community in the Columbia River Gorge, as determined by the GTA Board of Directors.

Criteria that will be considered:

  • All technology sectors are eligible, as are sectors not traditionally characterized as technological if the individual/ company has an extraordinary commitment to innovation or using technology.
  • All accomplishments over the past year will be considered, such as successful new product introductions, community involvement, and impacts on industry trends.
  • The individual or company should be recognized as a leader in the Columbia River Gorge and should be in a position to both accept the award and to represent the tech community in the Columbia River Gorge in a positive light for the foreseeable future.
  • Individuals or companies are not required to be GTA members to be eligible.
  • Companies that are nominated must derive the majority of their revenue through provision of products or services that would be considered technology-based. Service providers, even those who provide services to companies in the technology field, are not specifically eligible, unless they have an extraordinary commitment to innovation or using technology.
  • Nominated individuals must work and companies must be headquartered in the five- county Columbia River Gorge or have the majority of their activities or revenue generated from activities (manufacturing, development, etc.) from within the region. A major division or business unit of a company headquartered elsewhere may apply, in which case they will be judged based upon the activities of the local division.

CGCC Skill Center2022 saw no nominations for Tech Leader of the Year.  Our 2021 winner was Columbia Gorge Community College’s Career and Technical Education Department, for pioneering new ways to provide our current and future workforce with the skills it needs for successful employability in industries across the Gorge. The incredible and tireless work from everyone in the department helped make the opening of the Regional Skills Center in Fall 2021 a reality.  Additional Technology Leader of the Year finalists honored were: Nick Anderson from Overwatch Imaging and Mary Kramer from CGCC.

Nominate the GTA’s 2023 Tech Leader of the Year Here!


STEM Education Leader Award

STEM Education Leader of the Year recognizes an individual for outstanding achievement over the last year (Oct 1, 2022 to Sept 30, 2023) for their contributions to the advancement of STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) education in the Columbia River Gorge.   Nominations should describe (with specifics!) why the person is being nominated for such recognition. This award will be presented to the nominated individual who has made the most transformative impact through the advancement of STEM education in the Columbia River Gorge over the last year, as determined by the GTA’s Board of Directors. The winner will receive $1000 donation to their STEM program.

Criteria that will be considered:

  • The individual should be recognized as a leader in STEM education in the Columbia River Gorge through their/his/her involvement with some facet of STEM education in the Columbia River Gorge. The Gorge covers the five-county area of the GTA (Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Skamania and Klickitat Counties).
  • The individual should be in a position to accept the award and to represent the STEM education community in the Columbia River Gorge in a positive light for the foreseeable future.
  • Sally Anderson receiving 2022 awardIndividuals are not required to be GTA members to be eligible for nomination.
  • Any Individual who teaches students of all ages and all forms of education (public, private, after-school, etc.) is eligible.


Our 2022 winner was Sally Anderson, Hood River Valley’s Mobile STEM K-5 Educator, who coordinated to bring the STEM Fab Bus to schools throughout the district. 

Nominate the GTA’s 2023 STEM Educator of the Year Here!

Nominations must be received by 9: 00 a.m. on November 20, 2023 to be considered.  The winners will be announced at the GTA’s Winter Party and Awards Ceremony on December 12.  Contact Jason with questions. 

UAV/UAS Companies in the Columbia Gorge Region Participate in ICAP Launch!

Innovation Cluster Accelerator logoThe ICAP (Innovative Cluster Accelerator Program) Launch program is run by the WA Dept. of Commerce to support the development of industry ecosystems and potential innovation clusters in Washington state, and is designed to support regional and rural economic development.

MCEDD has been awarded a capacity-building grant from WA Dept of Commerce to lead this program for the Uncrewed Aerial Systems/Vehicles (UAS/UAV) industry ecosystem in Klickitat and Skamania Counties, with inclusion of our Oregon Gorge counties/ companies as well. The program will foster learning and implementation of strategies and techniques to drive collaborative action, begin building an innovation cluster strategy, and position the industry’s networks to pursue private and public investment for collaborative projects.

MCEDD will be working closely with the Gorge Tech Alliance, UAV companies and economic development partners from July 2023 through May 2024. Let us know if you’d like to get involved! Learn more about ICAP Launch here.  


November 2023

ICAP Launch Meeting November 2023Local stakeholders in the Gorge’s UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) sector, including representatives from industry, government and academia, met this month to begin working towards the goals of the Gorge’s UAS innovation cluster. Participants engaged in discussions about obstacles to growth and brainstormed innovative ways to collaborate in addressing these challenges. These fruitful conversations have begun building a sense of optimism and momentum for the future, growing from the enhanced cooperation and collaboration opportunities that the ICAP Launch project provides. 

Announcing Our New 2023 GTA Scholarship Recipient!

Our first selection this year, Ximena Santillan, has received a full scholarship award and as a result, the Corwin Hardham Scholarship funds are now available to help another graduating Hood River Valley High School student, Andrea Lachino, to continue with her college education. 

Andrea LachinoAndrea will be the first generation in her family that attends college, and as the child of Mexican immigrants who came to Hood River as orchard workers, she appreciates the opportunities that a college education will open up in her life.

One of Andrea’s teachers describes her as, “a self-starter and a persistent problem solver, with the time management skills, habits of mind and intellectual ability to be a true asset to her future college community.” Andrea is fascinated by the creativity that computer programming offers: “I was intrigued by the fact that coding could accomplish almost anything!” One of her favorite activities in computer science class was making interactive apps because she enjoys their creative nature.

In addition to excellent grades, Andrea has been a wonderful communicator and continues to put herself in leadership roles. She has been voted for by her class and then the whole school, to represent them as an elected position in Student Government for the past three years.

Andrea’s combination of coursework, extracurricular participation and work history shows her intentions and determination to attend college in order to create a better future for herself that will realize her parents’ dreams. The GTA was pleased to select her for the annual Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship to fuel her future at Oregon State University and majoring in Computer Science.

Read more about the GTA’s Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship here.

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.