Southern Oregon Sets Sights on High Tech Jobs, Better Wages

Business minds will gather later in January to discuss what it takes to attract and retain the technology jobs that come with high wages and skilled laborers.

by Greg Stiles, Mail Tribune / January 3, 2019
Shutterstock/Mark Agnor

(TNS) — It’s one thing for a community to embrace tech-oriented companies paying high wages, it’s another to grab their attention.

The 16th Annual Southern Oregon Business Conference, focusing on innovation and building high impact communities, will consider what it takes to attract such companies on Jan. 31 in Medford.

“What often happens right now is a city and jurisdiction say they want to attract companies or high-wage professionals, and then thinks they will just come,” said Colleen Padilla, Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc.’s executive director.

The reality, however, is it doesn’t happen quite that way. Traded-sector companies, whose goods and services are traded globally, are a key driver in developing local economies.

“First, you have to build amenities that will make it attractive,” Padilla said. “I think we have it backward. You can’t wait for them to come, you actually have to do some things in a community — downtown housing, the coffee shops, breweries, and broadband so that we have really good wireless capacity.”

Another element the region can develop to attract companies is well-planned business developments.

“We don’t have a lot of business parks,” Padilla said. “Our industrial and business space is kind of scattered; businesses want to be close to other like-minded businesses. It’s learning what we need to build into our communities.”

The speakers lined up for the conference will address those issues.

Mary Hebert, a North America senior vice president with foreign investment and consulting firm WAVTEQ, will tell the conference ways to attract high-tech firms along with a high-value workforce. Hebert will examine Southern Oregon from the perspective of a site selector and discuss trends in rapidly growing technology companies and what international technology businesses take into consideration when evaluating U.S. locations.

John Darrow joined Amazon 21 years ago when it was still a fledgling Internet bookstore. Today, the Mount Shasta, California, native is a senior principal engineer, leading engineering efforts that guide inventory, warehousing and logistics for the global giant. His role encompasses resource optimization, planning and execution involving people and machines. He will share the challenges of working with a younger, diverse workforce, utilizing new technologies and distribution channels.

Tim Duy, senior director of the Oregon Economic Forum and author of the University of Oregon Statewide Economic Indicators, will provide an economic forecast for 2019.

Rob O’ Neill, a partner at Moss Adams, will discuss high relevance tax law changes.

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