Major players in the Rogue Valley's e-commerce fraternity have known for years there are plenty of cottage industry efforts in their field — but nobody knows for sure how many or who they all are.
Hoping to lessen the mystery, the leading lights of Internet business have launched Rogue Nexus E-Business Consortium, with the idea of drawing together the far-flung elements of the Jackson and Josephine counties' e-sphere.
What: New organization, Rogue Nexus E-Business Consortium, gathers to determine how many are doing e-business in the Rogue Valley and to network
When: 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23
Where: Bigham Knoll Event Center, 525 Bigham Knoll, Jacksonville
"We know we have all these businesses doing e-commerce in the Rogue Valley, but no one can say how many jobs there really are," said Jim Teece, Project A founder and one of the consortium's originators. "We want to put every e-commerce job on a map so we can physically count how many and understand what we have here."
"Motorcycle USA, Fire Mountain Gems, Harry & David and Lithia Motors have all been in on this from the beginning," Teece said. "But there are a lot of one-man and two-man shops that are on the Internet. We want to identify who is part of this cluster, whether they are in Ashland, Grants Pass or Medford. We know there is a huge contingent of high-end employees making family wages. Most of the money they are earning is brought in from the rest of the world."
The idea was planted in 2008, said Michael Smith, business development manager at Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. Eventually, the concept was refined, to spur local merchants and manufacturers into action, to share best practices, workforce training and other common interests.
"They didn't want to just sit around and high-five each other," Smith said. "The unique thing we've discovered about this e-commerce group is that they don't have any real competition with each other. The bulk of their business is out of the area, and they're selling diverse products across a wide spectrum of buyers. There is no inherent competition."
One of the consortium's aims is to connect people — Web designers, graphic artists, code writers, etc. — to firms that need their services.
"They often exist here but nobody knows about them," Teece said. "Companies are farming out work outside the area when there are people right down the street, living here for quality of life reasons, able to do the work. I think we'll see people hiring smaller providers to do those things within the first year."
In the Oct. 23 gathering, a series of speakers will outline the organization's plans: Skip Newberry, president of the Software Association of Oregon, will talk about Techlandia, a Portland-centric version of Rogue Nexus that was set in motion three years ago. Matt Dalbey of Generation Web will discuss search-engine optimization. Nathan Sleadd of Adventure Technology will explain monthly UpLink networking events. David Hand, who operates DataCenter West, will size up the region's digital infrastructure and proposed plans for a new technology system.
"The benefits go beyond a centralized database," Hand said. "Things like Web hosting, content development, shopping-cart development, security, payment credit industry compliance — the elements of product and services — are just the tip of the spear."
Teece will unveil the organization's new website — roguenexus.org — which will provide access for lesser-known entities to tap into the consortium.
"I think within three months, we'll probably see 90 percent of the large companies and 70 to 80 percent of smaller providers included in the database," Teece said. "We've got to convince them that it's a good thing."
Tickets for the event are $25. To register, see soredi.org.
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.