MEDFORD, Ore. – If you want to see state of the art manufacturing, you need only walk down the street. Rogue Valley Microdevices in Medford produces micro computer chips, and they’re part of a growing tech industry in the area.
“I guess you could consider us sort of a miniature intel. We have the clean room, the full garments,” said CEO Jessica Gomez.
Gomez says her company is expanding about 30% each year. But that growth requires new employees, and filling each new position has proven to be their biggest challenge.
“We don’t have a whole industry to pull employees from, so we have to make more of an up-front investment,” said Gomez.
In order to address that problem, Gomez and a number of other local business leaders have formed the Rogue Workforce Partnership.
The group is part of an effort years in the making to match young, local talent to the hidden gems in the valley.
“There are a lot of students that don’t know about the jobs and the career paths that are available, particularly the more technical,” said Jim Fong, Executive Director of The Job Council.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates about a third of Americans over 25 have an Associate’s Degree or higher. We’ll need to exceed 50% in 15 years to meet industry demand.
Now Representative Greg Walden has come forward to show his support for the partnership, adding that these jobs are especially important in rural areas like the Rogue Valley.
“The more we can develop these small tech companies the better because it creates jobs that are good paying jobs,” said Walden.
Right now the Workforce Partnership is courting students as early as high school, but they say they eventually want to start turning kids on to science and technology as early as kindergarten.
And local tech companies say if we can get that workforce, the industry has a lot of growth ahead.
“Really the sky is the limit,” said Gomez. “That’s where our biggest job growth can be.”