GTA Member Spotlight: Amity Labs

GTA Member Spotlight header

Amity Labs is one of the few US cryptocurrency miners – perhaps the only one – that based its business platform on a solid engineering background.

About the Founder

Ted Valkov’s passions for engineering, business innovation, and family have all come together since moving to the Gorge in 2006.

Career circumstances for both Ted and his wife initially brought the couple to The Dalles. In 2006, the Texas company that Ted had joined as a small startup had grown to the point of becoming public. At the same time, his wife Paula-Lee Valkov had just completed her residency and was offered a career opportunity with MCMC. The couple was also expecting their first child. All of these factors were like an equation, and the solution was moving to The Dalles. This turned out to be the right solution as the couple found the Gorge to be a great place to live, work, and raise their family.

During the ensuing years, Ted stayed home to help raise the children. His only comment was “Taking care of small kids is hard! Everything else has been easy-peasy in comparison.” And while busy raising his family, Ted continued to pursue his many “hobbies” (aka business research and development) that involved pursuits in various branches of applied sciences.Ted Valkov with kids

Innovations to solve the electrical and heat transfer problems encountered in crypto-currency mining were the result of one such hobby.

And while spare time is scarce, Ted enjoys the outdoors with his kids – hiking, skiing, kayaking and fishing – whenever possible.

About Business in the Gorge

As a local start-up, Amity Labs has utilized the relatively low costs, clean air, and cool temperate climate of the region to its advantage. The company contributes to the local economy by sourcing as much material and labor as possible locally.

On the customer side, the industry is global in scale and is fairly spread out, so it does not depend on the the Gorge’s local economy for its customer base.

Roughly half of Amity’s business is from abroad, with a huge customer diversity that ranges from individuals to fairly large organizations.

As the founder, owner, and innovator of the company, Ted works to build a personal rapport with every customer. Over time, this has helped to build Ted’s thorough understanding of the structure of this complex and evolving industry.


About the Company

Amity Labs has its roots in another startup by Ted. In 2010, Western Star Entertainment was founded to produce game engines. In 2012, the company began experimenting with cryptocurrency mining under the business name Amity Labs. As operations grew, Amity Labs was spun off as a completely separate enterprise from its parent organization in 2018.

Amity Labs’ first steps in cryptocurrency mining involved providing computing power to blockchain networks. At one point in the early days, the company housed a noticeable percentile of the bitcoin network capacity.

CPUAs mining became more competitive due to the influx of Chinese/ private capital, Amity Labs found a niche in manufacturing power supplies for mining machines. This became the company’s dominant business line while the research and development activity turned to the engineering challenges inherent in mining data centers. When the Chinese started integrating free power supplies inside their mining machines, it killed Amity Labs’ power supply business overnight.


view of worker at Amity's computers


By this time, Amity Labs was the only established Oregon-based builder of mining facilities, so the company turned its focus to marketing some of the significant innovations that it had developed to accommodate the rather peculiar ways that mining equipment gets deployed. The company quickly changed its business to provide specialized modular racks, power distribution units, and entire “mobile mining structures” to support the wave of large-scale construction of mining facilities that has swept the world since.


Amity's computational "wind tunnel"

 Above, Amity’s 1.0 Megawatt computational “wind tunnel” performs 35 quadrillion cryptographic calculations per second!

Below, Ted works to install an airflow module assembly.

Ted working on an airflow assembly

Most recently, Amity Labs sold its main mining facility and Ted’s research and development has turned to new products that address the need for energy efficiency and conservation in the cryptocurrency mining industry.

About the GTA

When asked about what he and his business have gained as part of the GTA, Ted replied, “In my experience, many significant developments have started with a serendipitous conversation or with the knowledge of a particular person. As the region’s networking organization for technology professionals, the GTA is an excellent venue for this. I don’t see the GTA as a source of business referrals. It is more of a long-term investment in networking, independent of the specifics of a particular business.”

Quick Links

Company Website: amitylabs.com

GTA Website: Amity Labs

Email Contacts: info@amitylabs.com, ted@amitylabs.com

Social: linkedin.com/in/theodorevalkov

GTA Member Spotlight Header

Introducing New GTA Sponsor – Allied Vision Technologies

GTA Member Spotlight headerFor more than 30 years, Allied Vision has been developing industrial machine vision cameras focusing on what counts for the customer. With a deep understanding of customers’ needs, Allied Vision finds individual solutions for every application, a practice which has made Allied Vision one of the leading camera manufacturers worldwide in the machine vision market. The product range includes 2D, 3D, and SWIR camera technology and image capture solutions for factory automation, logistics, medical imaging, and many more application areas in digital imaging.

Allied Vision logoThe company has nine locations in Germany, Canada, the United States, Singapore, and China and is represented by a network of sales partners in over 30 countries. Allied Vision is a TKH Technology Company and part of TKH Vision.

Company Mission:

Allied Vision’s service is all-inclusive and customized to the clients’ individual needs. Allied Vision’s trained consultants listen to each customer’s needs to design the best solution. This includes not just the camera but also the right lens, the right connectivity hardware, and the right software interface. The team’s job is to reliably deliver the image you need, when you need it, and how you need it!



Alvium camera

One of Allied Vision’s solutions is the Alvium product line, which is the most flexible line-up of digital cameras in the world. It is available in a myriad of configurations and data output format. From VGA to 25+ megapixel resolution, including UV, Visible, Color, monochrome, NIR, and SWIR via USB3, Gigabit Ethernet, 5Gigabit Ethernet, CSI2, MIPI, GMSL2, FPDlink, CoaXpress and more!


Alvium camera accessoriesThe Alvium Frame line offers compact size and weight, multiple lens mounts including C-mount, CS-mount, M12, bareboard and custom mounting.

Recently released Flex and Frame Alvium cameras expand Allied Vision’s range of offerings to custom lens mounts and flat flex cable outputs, and in January, 3MP and 5MP SWIR cameras will be released in the company’s Alvium and Goldeye line of cameras.

Allied Vision works with companies big and small, ranging from multi-million-dollar companies to start-ups, from OEM’s to integrators and distribution partners. The company’s engineers work in partnership with machine vision manufacturers across the medical, industrial, agricultural and logistics industries. Alvium cameras can also be integrated into uncrewed air and ground systems, including sUAS and UGV’s.

Allied Vision was introduced to the Gorge’s high-tech industry through working connections with the GTA’s sponsor companies Overwatch Imaging, Google, and Trillium Engineering. As a new sponsor to the GTA, the company seeks to work with more local companies by growing and supporting partnerships to achieve mutual success.

Questions? To learn more about Allied Vision Technologies,
contact micah.browning@alliedvision.com


Employee Spotlight: Ryan Smith at Insitu

Ryan SmithOur spotlight series introduces Ryan Smith, Flight Test and Systems Engineering Manager at Insitu.

Ryan’s career grew out of his fascination with UAVs and his belief that uncrewed systems will be the future of aviation. After studying aerospace engineering at Embry Riddle in Prescott, AZ, Ryan worked for Boeing for 17 years. In 2020, he chose to move to the Gorge to work at Insitu as the natural next step in his career, stating “I loved the work I did and the teams I worked with, but I needed a change. I wanted to move to a smaller community and saw an opportunity come up at Insitu. As both a leader in the industry and a subsidiary of Boeing, Insitu was clearly the best opportunity for me.”

When asked to talk about what he appreciates most about Insitu’s company culture, Ryan had positive things to say about the company’s commitment to both community engagement and to the work/life balance for its employees.

“Moving into the area during COVID-19, I wanted to find a way to engage with the community and found the volunteer opportunities that Insitu coordinated to be the perfect way. The opportunities were often open to the whole family and the Boeing donation match went back into the organizations we worked with. My family and I love the outdoors and all the activities in the area. What we weren’t expecting is how amazing this community is. Since our first week here we’ve felt so welcome. I love the Gorge and since moving here, could not imagine myself anywhere else.”

In addition to great opportunities for community engagement, Ryan spoke of the company culture’s commitment to a healthy work/life balance.

“At Insitu, we work hard and we play hard. I think one of the best things the company does is recognize and support the need for a healthy work/life balance. This summer my family and I had the opportunity to spend 17 days running the Grand Canyon section of the Colorado River. Even though this trip took me away from work for 3 weeks with no possible contact, I was fully supported by my team and leadership. The culture of the company encourages trust and support for each other, which is critical in being able to balance the day to day or support the larger opportunities. The team here is great, and I’m happy to be here.”

When asked “What would you like to gain from you and/or your company being members of the GTA?” Ryan replied,

Ryan Smith volunteering at STEM Fair“Before moving to the area, the only company I knew of was Insitu. While I’m just starting to understand the breadth and scope of the GTA, I appreciate that there is an organization supporting STEM and its connection to industry. As it becomes increasingly difficult to attract talent, the growth of local talent who already understand the benefits of living in the gorge can really help the local industry. I am constantly impressed by the amount of talent here in the gorge. It’s great to run into other tech folks at Makerspace and at soccer and at dinner. 

Gorge Tech Alliance logo“Workwise, the GTA offers opportunity for both the collaboration and competition that are needed to help our local industry sector achieve a greatness that one company would not be able to achieve on its own.”

And in keeping with his active appreciation for community and collaboration, Ryan’s answer when asked the question, “Who would you most like to share a meal with and what would you have?” Ryan replied that he would love to have the opportunity to have lunch with Jason Hartmann to learn more about the GTA.

When asked about exciting and innovative projects in his work, Ryan spoke enthusiastically about the Integrator VTOL, which is a UAV that has been developed in collaboration with Hood Tech.  “The vertical takeoff and landing capability increases both the endurance and safety of the Integrator’s flight without sacrificing the max takeoff weight or range. There is a two-stage vertical takeoff and landing – a UAV carries the Integrator to safe altitude for launch and captures it for recovery. This piggy-back cuts out the need to carry the weight of extra batteries and motors, which increases endurance, and the freed-up space that batteries would occupy can be utilized to build in more redundancy features that increase safety.”

Insitu logo

  118 East Columbia River Way  
  Bingen,WA 98605
  Tel: 1-509-493-8600  
  Fax: 1-509-493-8601   

Founded in the Gorge in 1994, Insitu is a company that has aimed to become the gold standard in Group 2 and 3 Uncrewed Autonomous Systems. The company’s focus has been on providing ISR Services, Software and Fully Integrated Systems around the world. Today, the company has grown to approximately 700 employees in various buildings throughout the Gorge.













Employee Spotlight: Matthew Hamilton at Sagetech

Employee Spotlight logo

Our spotlight focus turns this month to Matthew Hamilton, Sagetech Avionics’ Chief Technology Officer.  Matt leads the technology teams of the company to create advanced avionics solutions that currently serve on unmanned aircraft platforms. Matt’s qualifications include a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Matt shared his story of how he came to work at Sagetech when he was asked why he chose to live in the Gorge to pursue his career in tech and innovation.  Prior to his employment at Sagetech, which began in November of 2015,  Matt worked at Aviation Communication Surveillance Systems (ACSS), a division of L3-Harris, in Phoenix AZ.  At ACSS, Matt worked on traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) and transponders for commercial aircraft. Matt first learned about Sagetech when his employer began working on a new mini TCAS product and purchased a Sagetech legacy transponder to evaluate it. When this program was cancelled, Matt was moved to qualification testing, at which point both he and his colleague David Day started looking for new and more interesting opportunities.  Dave reached out to Sagetech and quickly got an interview and an offer and moved to the Gorge.  Dave immediately reached out to Matt about the opportunity to work at Sagetech with him.  Two weeks later in October, Matt flew north and had a “working interview” where he helped design some of the transmitter circuitry that is still part of Sagetech’s MX Platform. During his interview Matt stayed in the former Sagetech owner’s barn (which was the former Sagetech building!), hiked Eagle Creek, and fell in love with the Gorge while the weather was fantastic.  Even though Dave was the only other person that Matt knew in the Columbia Gorge, when Sagetech offered the job, he took it. He started work in November and had to stay in a vacation rental because there was no housing available. The weather turned quickly… with snow in November and continuous rain for the next six months.

Matthew Hamilton at SagetechWhen asked to share one great thing that Sagetech does for its employees, Matt replied without hesitation, “Sagetech offers a continuing education program, which includes learning to fly, as a way to foster an aviation culture at the company. The company pays for half the cost of a private pilot’s license or any college or education/ training up to $5k/year, as long as it is in line with Sagetech’s business.”  Matt is now a certified private pilot and has found that being a pilot himself has proven invaluable in developing a user-friendly product for customers because he can personally flight-test the products.  He added, (with a grin) “There is nothing that can match the value of  real-life product testing!”

Matt was enthusiastic about his work developing innovative and progressive projects at Sagetech that will “make the skies safer by helping aircraft avoid mid-air collisions.”  The company’s Airborne Collision Avoidance System X (ACAS-X) is the next generation of collision-avoidance systems that is specifically designed to meet the needs of uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) and small UAS.  This technology is also applicable to crewed aviation (Fixed Wing, Rotorcraft and eVTOLs)  Sagetech is now designing a smaller version of their MX transponder for the less-than-55 lb. UAS market. Today, small UAS do not have transponders because “it would overwhelm the 1090 MHz spectrum.”  Instead, they can be equipped with a passive receiver and use ACAS-X to avoid collisions. For larger aircraft, the MX will get upgraded with some extra processing capability to include the ACAS-X and a UAT receiver.   Sagetech is working with many of the major advanced air mobility (AAM) players, one of the company’s key target markets.  Uncrewed cargo aircraft have also been targeted in Sagetech’s quest to make the skies safer through certified collision-avoidance systems.  Sagetech’s innovation has extended now to the development of an iOS app that will soon be available for light sport and experimental aircraft to equip with ADS-B.  

When asked to elaborate on what he and his company would like to gain as a member of the GTA,  Matt replied that  he sees the GTA as “a great recruiting tool that provides visibility to the company.” He also sees synergies between and among the Gorge tech companies that have not been leveraged yet, which the GTA could help with.

Matt Hamilton and familyMatt attributes his success at Sagetech to the amazing team of engineers that he works with, and to his  supportive wife Hauna and kids Brogan, Bella, and Brynlee. When Matt is not working, he enjoys flying to new places with his family.  And to wrap up this extraordinary interview, Matt was asked the famous question… “If you could have one meal with anyone, who would you choose, and which dish would you share?”  And in keeping with Matt’s enthusiasm for aviation, the answer came back (not too surprisingly!) that he would love to dine with Neil Armstrong and share a long conversation about aviation history over a sirloin steak.

Visit Sagetech’s website to learn more about the company and products! 

Sagetech Avionics Logo

Bill Howland at SightLine – our June Employee Spotlight!

photo of Bill HowlandMeet Bill Howland, an Embedded Hardware Engineer who has been on SightLine Applications’ hardware engineering team in Portland for the past five years. As a native Oregonian and Portlander, Bill counts himself lucky to live in an area where he can pursue his passion for electronics and ride his bike to work when the weather cooperates.

Bill’s interest in electronics began when he was 12 years old, taking apart audio systems and trying to build or repair his way to a better version. So when it came time to choose his career, electronics was naturally the ONLY choice! While still in college, Bill’s first job was working for BASF Temperature Sensing (formerly Engelhard Corporation), where he progressed from Electronic Technician to Engineering Technician and eventually Hardware Engineer. There he oversaw the design, assembly and testing of optical pyrometers for the RTP Radiance and Vulcan CVD systems made by Applied Materials, Inc. (world-wide manufacturing of silicon wafer processors). At times Bill was the entire manufacturing team. Bill remained at BASF for 13 years, had a brief period of home-based contract work, and then came to work at SightLine.

When asked what he appreciates most about his work at Sightline, Bill replied that, “SightLine allows employees to grow, learn, and ‘wear multiple hats’ so things stay interesting!” His outlook on learning and and creating solutions has earned him the reputation among his teammates as “THE go-to electrical genius at SightLine who many folks rely on for troubleshooting hardware, cabling, power automation, etc.” – says colleague Charlie Hayward

His personal interests have remained focused on music and his knowledge of musical trivia is at this time unrivaled! He continues to refurbish and repair vintage audio equipment and antique radios as a hobby, and his quirky humor shows clearly with his answer to the question, “Who would you choose to have dinner with and what dish would you share?” Bill’s #1 choice was to have dinner with Bugs Bunny at the LOOOONG table he shared with Yosemite Sam, and “we would have Bugs’ “Hasenpfeffer” recipe” (carrots!).

SightLine logo SightLine Applications creates onboard video processing software that is then typically integrated as an embedded system into high-end optronics systems (gimbals, UAVs, UGVs, PTZs, and more!). Bill Howland is part of the team that designs the electronic subsystems to interface various cameras to SightLine’s systems. 

Founded in 2007, SightLine has offices in both Hood River and Portland. The two offices help with the recruitment needs that require a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise. With around 40 employees in the two offices, this small company has been a core member of the GTA since the Alliance was created.

Email: info@sightlineapplications.com

Website: sightlineapplications.com




Employee Spotlight: Crystal Cuellar @ Silicon Forest Electronics

photo of Crystal CuellarThis month’s Employee Spotlight focuses on the production floor at Silicon Forest Electronics, where Crystal Cuellar is the Senior Lead in production of printed circuit board assembly. Silicon Forest Electronics employs 98 people, and Crystal has been working there for 16 years. She first heard about Silicon Forest Electronics through her daughter’s participation in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program in Vancouver, where her daughter was matched as a sister into another family that personally recommended Silicon Forest Electronics as a great workplace. 

When asked what she appreciates the most about her employer, Crystal replied that it was, “the time and training that Silicon Forest Electronics provides to employees so that they can be promoted in-house. The company’s practice of offering opportunities to learn new skills and to advance in one’s career has helped the company to grow successfully.”

Crystal Cuellar at workAs a production lead, it is Crystal’s responsibility to keep communication flowing between the production crew, the Customer Focus Teams, and Engineers. She manages both the people and the product as it moves through the production floor, ensuring that the highest quality product goes out to customers. 

Crystal Cuellar takes pride in her work and the work of her production team. She finds it especially satisfying to see the growth and development of the company’s newer hires as the demand for Silicon Forest Electronics’ services continues to grow.

While Crystal herself is not personally active at the GTA’s social events, she appreciates that much of the demand for Silicon Forest Electronics’ products comes from fellow GTA companies. Her personal work ethic demands that the quality of products and the service provided by Silicon Forest Electronics has a positive and profound impact for every customer.  

Fun Fact! If Crystal could have one meal with anyone, she would choose Hannibal Lector, a character from the movie Silence of the Lambs, and she would make liver with some Fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Silicon Forest Electronics logoSilicon Forest Electronics

6204 East 18th Street

Vancouver, WA 98661


email: sfesales@si-forest.com

website: siliconforestelectronics.com



Employee Spotlight: Kate Wurster, Columbia Gorge STEM Hub Coordinator

Kate Wurster photo Kate Wurster was recently hired as the STEM Hub Coordinator at CGESD in October, 2022 as a natural fit, with her love of language and communication and her extensive background in education.

As a Fulbright Scholar with degrees in German and Education, Kate first got involved in education professionally when she taught English to primary and secondary students in Hamburg, Germany. After that, her path progressed through community colleges in Maine and in Colorado. Moving to the Gorge with her husband Pete and son Chase, her skills and talent led her to Hood River Valley High School where she served as the Career Connected Learning Coordinator.  In this role, Kate collaborated with CTE teachers at the high school to build robust post-secondary pathways between HRVHS and CGCC, by creating meaningful workplace-based experiences for students.  Her engagement with CGCC led her to new professional opportunities at the College, where she continued to champion the value of CTE programming to help serve local workforce and employment needs.  

Kate believes in the power and importance of good communication in all aspects of her life – personal and professional. She is fluent in written and spoken German and hosts a monthly German language conversation group called Stammtisch at Crush Cider Cafe in Hood River.  She is also inspired by nature and embraces all that the Gorge has to offer – trail running, skiing, hiking, stand up paddle boarding and exploring the beautiful landscape the Gorge has to offer. 

Kate’s aspirations include travelling and living abroad with her family for a couple of years so that they can fully immerse themselves in another language and culture.  When asked what her favorite meal would be to share with her favorite celebrity, she had no hesitation in replying, “I would love to have had dinner with Ruth Bader Ginsburg or with Michelle Obama – sharing a Mediterranean dish with chicken kabobs and tzatziki, pita bread and hummus, falafel, and a delicious Turkish coffee would be (would have been) amazing!”

Kate and family in RockiesWurster family photo








In her Coordinator role, Kate’s primary focus is in Career Connected Learning initiatives (career awareness, exploration, preparation & training) at the middle and high school (bridging post-secondary) levels.  She thoroughly enjoys her role of “matchmaker” within the STEM sector, stating,  “I find it most rewarding to work with educators to identify their career-connected learning needs.   I then determine what the best fit (which company and/or professional mentor) will best to supplement the educator’s curriculum with real-world expertise and context.   The matchmaking step involves networking with industry contacts to open the pathways where the needs meet.”

Kate is eager to collaborate with educators, students and families, as well as community & industry partners in the region to provide opportunity and access to Career Connected Learning activities and programming. She has found the Gorge to be an amazingly dynamic and rewarding place to work in Career Connected Learning, commenting, “When it comes to leveraging industry/ education connections, for a relatively small and rural region, the diversity of industry represented here, and the willingness for industry to engage and support local youth, is very impressive! “

Kate’s major work initiatives for the STEM Hub include the College and Career Expo and the Advanced Manufacturing Educator Externship. Last year’s College and Career Expo event had approximately 150 students representing 11 different high schools in the region, including WA schools in Klickitat & Skamania Counties.  The Advanced Manufacturing Educator Externship is a 3-day, experiential externship focused on the Advanced Manufacturing sector (including a hands-on introduction to CGCC’s Advanced Manufacturing program by the College’s lead instructors and site visits to a variety of local manufacturing employers in Hood River & Wasco County on days 2 & 3).

The GTA provides a crucial link to the local high tech industry for the STEM Hub. It provides a platform for networking opportunities with local industry partners that is essential for the work of Career Connected Learning in the region. Plus, industry awareness around the work of the STEM Hub is necessary for the success of the STEM Hub’s programs, and the GTA provides the link to leverage the participation and support of local tech companies.



400 E Scenic Dr. #207
The Dalles, OR 97058

The Columbia Gorge STEM Hub is a program of the Columbia Gorge Education Service District, serving as the “connective tissue” between families, students, educators and industry throughout the Gorge’s five Oregon counties (Hood River, Gilliam, Sherman, Wasco and Wheeler) as well as Klickitat and Skamania counties in Washington (through partnership with Career Connect Southwest WA).

The STEM Hub is a small but mighty team of three, focused on increasing equitable access to quality STEM experiences in our region. The STEM Hub walks its talk, modeling its goals of equity and quality of life for its employees by offering a hybrid work schedule that allows flexibility and a healthy work-life balance.

To learn more about all that the Hub has to offer, visit the website at: https://www.gorgestem.org/

Evan Leglar

Employee Spotlight: Evan Leglar @ Zepher, Inc.

Evan LeglarMeet Evan Leglar, a Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineer at Zepher, Inc. where he provides technical support for product development. His work spans from helping customers directly to refine their concepts into manufacturable products, to providing operational support for existing customers and product lines. In a typical day, he floats between progressing a design project, to developing assembly plans for a contract manufacturing job, to helping scope a new design project for a customer in need.

Evan first learned about Zepher when he was in school at Oregon State in Corvallis, by meeting some folks from the GTA at a career fair booth. He also had a friend who had just interned at Zepher the year prior. Between the interesting work he heard about from his friend and the allure of the gorge, he was excited to make the move from Hillsboro, OR.

When asked about what he appreciates most about his work at Zepher, Evan talked about the wide variety and opportunities in the scope of his work. Ranging from helping standup operations for design services, to leading projects across various ground support equipment types to dipping into the world of hydrogen energy. His exposure to the wide variety of customer and product types that comes from being in the design services world has given him the chance to learn a tremendous amount about the aerospace industry, as well as how to support external partners in the product development process.

See Evan’s LinkedIn Page to learn more about his interests, skills, and award-winning innovative achievements. 

New Product Introduction Preparations

Zepher Inc LogoAbout the Company 

Zepher works with the design, development, and manufacturing of aerospace ground support and testing equipment. In addition to traditional manufacturing services, Zepher has been developing machining and metrology capabilities along with mechanical design services to allow the company to service more of their products’ lifecycle, to improve the overall speed of production, and to improve the chances that the products will make it to market. In support of Zepher Flight Labs, Zepher has been building competence in the budding Hydrogen Aviation market with the design and integration of the hardware needed to support H2 fueled flight.

Zepher’s participation in the GTA grows from the company’s interest in sharing knowledge and in growing with other companies in the gorge. The GTA provides presence in the broader technology industry that increases opportunity and ability for the Gorge’s small companies to offer high quality careers and world class products in the U.S.

For employees like Evan, the ability to attend live events promises a great opportunity to meet interesting local tech professionals and learn about gorge-made products.

Quick Links Contact Evan directly! Contact Zepher, Inc
www.zepherinc.com Evan.Leglar@Zepherinc.com 310 Larch St.
https://crgta.org/zepher-inc/ evanleglar@gmail.com Bingen, WA 98605
  Linkedin.com/Evan Leglar  
    PO Box 2158
    White Salmon, WA 98672




Employee Spotlight: Justin Gradek @ OMEP


Meet Justin Gradek, OMEP’s consultant assigned to cover the Columbia River Gorge Region. Justin has been with OMEP for six years as a Senior Manufacturing Consultant. Justin consults with manufacturers around the state on a wide range of topics including capacity growth, strategy, facility layout, and equipment selection. He also does design work and coaching when called for. A portion of his time is spent on advancing manufacturing CTE programs with educators around the state.

Justin loves the flexibility in his work with OMEP. He appreciates that the agency’s mission and work style allows it’s employees to work with clients and on projects that the employees themselves are passionate about. For Justin, his work with companies in the Gorge to help create economic prosperity in the community where he lives is more than simply a professional goal – it is a personal goal as well.

“I’ve lived in The South, big cities on the east coast, California, and Europe – and there is nowhere as beautiful as the Pacific Northwest and The Gorge specifically. I also find the people of the west to embody a lot of the ruggedness and perseverance that I imagine it took to establish farming and industry on this land a couple hundred years ago. The Northwest has a lot of opportunity for people looking to build a good life while trying something new, and I think that’s me.” 

Picture of Justin and partner Monica Gulley and 3 sons, taken at home in Hood River summer 2022

When asked to give an example of something innovative, progressive, or exciting in his work, Justin described OMEP’s “Ready or Not” business simulation. This 4-hour, in-person group exercise gives teams of 5-8 people leadership roles within a fictional company in order to collaboratively make decisions and investments to grow the company based on the strategy they create. Teams compete against each other during this event, and it is interesting, educational and fun. OMEP has delivered this simulation to groups as large as 300 people and as small as 30. His current work involves adapting the simulation to be incorporated into Portland Public Schools’ CTE programs, as well as around the state at various institutions throughout 2023. This simulation is good context for much of the work that OMEP does, and Justin encourages people to go through the exercise whenever possible.

About the Company

Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership OMEP is best described as a “Public Non-profit” funded through NIST grants, Business Oregon state funding, and client fees. OMEP is part of the nation-wide NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, the goal of which is to advance small and medium-sized manufacturing by making business consulting available to this specific industry demographic. 

OMEP has a staff of about 20 consultants based around the state. Each consultant has specialized expertise in manufacturing and a broad network of generalist skills to assist manufacturers in current and pressing challenges. The companies we work with span aerospace, medical devices, food products, assembly, construction, and primary wood and metal processing. If a company uses a process to change a product, then OMEP can likely work with them. 

The range of expertise that OMEP consultants deliver fits into three broad categories:

  1. Manufacturing operations: including lean manufacturing and continuous improvement, manufacturing engineering, and technology solutions.
  2. Business Financials and Strategy: mastering financial understanding, understanding growth services, and developing strategies for success.
  3. Workforce Solutions: examining the organization’s structure and alignment, leadership and employee development, and recruiting onboarding and training.

OMEP joined the GTA with goals that are both broad and specific: to contribute to the local economy directly by helping companies who can benefit from our expertise, and to contribute indirectly by partnering with organizations that advance manufacturing through technology-focused training, working with educators to expose the next generation of workers to manufacturing opportunities, and facilitating groups working on challenges that are tangent to manufacturing.

OMEP Office

Online appointments and Onsite services

7650 SW Beveland St. #170

Portland, OR 97223


Phone: 503-406-3770

Contact Justin directly!

Email: jgradek@omep.org

phone: 661.203.2273

Quick Links


GTA Website>OMEP

Member Spotlight: Jacobs

Jacobs logo

About the Company

Jacobs (formally known as Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.) is a publicly traded corporation that was founded in 1947. Today the company employs approximately 58,000 people worldwide with about 1,200 located in Oregon. Jacobs has been in operation for 75 years—serving both public and private clients in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, including the States of Oregon and Washington, as well as various local agencies and municipalities that include Cities, Counties, Ports, service districts and private sector clients with infra-structure projects in water, wastewater, industrial processes, transportation, planning, permitting, construction management, and studies of all sizes to foster resilient communities.

 In addition to design work for buildings and campus planning, transportation design for roadways, bridges, and rail, Jacobs provides wastewater operations and maintenance services on-contract to several cities in the Gorge.

Dog River Pipeline ProjectJacobs is currently managing the Dog River Pipeline Replacement project (shown above) for the City of The Dalles. The project includes permitting, design and construction management services to install 3.5 miles of new pipeline with new fish screening and passage.

 Jacobs supports clients through all stages of planning, design, permitting, project management and construction for contracted projects.

Hood River Wastewater Treatment Plant

The City of Hood River wastewater treatment plant, located on City property at the west end of the Port of Hood River, is operated under contract by Jacobs.  Jacobs helps the City manage the  Oregon Department of Environmental Quality requirements related to the effluent that it discharges to the Columbia River.

Projects such as these fit Jacobs’ company philosophy to make the world smarter, more connected and more sustainable. Jacobs recognizes the need for holistic, balanced urban and placemaking solutions that support environmental stewardship. Climate change is acknowledged as a defining issue that requires leveraging capabilities and deep expertise for solutions. 

“Challenging today” is the company’s response to the increasing complexity our world is experiencing. These challenges call on humanity to join forces, putting knowledge and imagination together to reinvent the way problems are solved and shaping the next generation of innovative solutions.  The company’s team of technology professionals, engineers, architects and specialists work to provide leading edge solutions ranging from end-to-end solutions to more complex engineering systems that will create and sustain well-functioning and thriving communities into the future.

Jacobs supports projects for the Cities of Hood River, Cascade Locks and The Dalles. Team members live and work within the Columbia River Gorge area on both sides of the river, and Jacobs is invested in improving the Gorge’s communities as a trusted partner.  Jacobs has joined the GTA to make and strengthen connections- for its local team members living in the Gorge, with the local business community, and with other technology-minded professionals.  Jacobs offers Gorge tech companies resources for services in the Water, Civil, Data Science, Geotechnical, Structural, Electrical and Development sectors. 

Gorge Contact: Annie Alsheimer, PE


Annie Alsheimer

Annie has been involved with the GTA since moving to the Gorge in 2018, and she joined GWIS in 2019.  In 2021, she joined Jacobs Engineering through their Portland office, but still wanted to keep a local Gorge presence by staying active in GWIS, and working on local projects in the Gorge supported by Jacobs.

She says, “I have enjoyed the hybrid-remote, work-life balance the Jacobs provides me, as well as advancement in my career growth in Water Resources as a civil engineer. I like to bring a civil engineer’s perspective to the highly mechanical/ electrical engineering industry that is represented in the GTA.

I hope more people join the Jacobs team in the Gorge!”


Jacobs’ offices nearest the Gorge in Oregon are located in Portland, Corvallis and Bend. In Washington, the nearest company offices are in Yakima and Richland. 


2020 S.W. Fourth Avenue, 3rd Floor    Portland, OR 97201    503.235.5000


377 Southwest Century Drive, Suite 201    Bend, OR 97702     541.318.4716


1100 NE Circle Blvd., Suite 300     Corvallis, OR 97330


32 N 3rd Street, Suite 320    Yakima, WA 98901    509.426.2772


1835 Terminal Drive, Suite 150    Richland, WA 99354

Website: www.jacobs.com

GTA Company Profile Page>Jacobs