Keeping the people connected who keep the rest of us connected hasn't necessarily been an easy thing in the Rogue Valley.
Returning to Medford after an 18-month contract at Nike, software engineer Scott Alexander wanted to connect with his peers. He had become accustomed to myriad information technology gatherings around Portland.
"There were all sorts of events available," Alexander said about Portland. "Because they were so established, it was easy to find where they were."
Back home, that wasn't the case. He discovered scattered tech gatherings whose participants were unaware there were similar meetings of the mind.
"It hit me what kind of effect that has on our local community," said Alexander, who works for CBT Nuggets in downtown Medford.
Rather than wait for somebody else, Alexander created a website to connect techies in the region — Rogue Tech Hub.
RogueTechHub.com promotes technology events, training and opportunities. The site highlights key events in the last year, has a calendar of upcoming events and keeps a directory of Southern Oregon technology firms.
“There are over 150 technology-focused events in the Rogue Valley each year," Alexander said. "Anyone from outside the area would struggle to find these events if they moved here."
In a light-speed, warp-factor tech world, computer professionals can't stand still, he said. The message surging through the Internet portals is one of warning: What got you hired last year, may get you labeled redundant next year.
"If you aren't constantly training, in two years you will be obsolete as a computer professional," Alexander said. "Even if you don't think you will use every new technology out there — which most of us don't — if you don't know what's happening, don't see where the next steps are, you can easily get sidetracked. All of a sudden you're outdated by five years and it's a challenge to get back into it."
For someone like Michael Birkhead, a 25-year industry veteran who recently relocated from the Silicon Valley, the hub serves as a mechanism to inculcate himself into the local community. While such a site may be the norm in most areas, it may provide a point of demarcation for local technology growth.
"It's a push forward," Birkhead said. "But really the goal is to establish a beachhead for people in technology. We now have this hub where people can find jobs and like-minded people. It becomes a user-base to attract technologists to the area."
Attracting technology veterans to the area is one goal. But for many years, the region has lost some of its developing talent to larger markets. To that end, Southern Oregon University computer science professor Pete Nordquist sees additional opportunities.
“The Rogue Tech Hub is a good place for students to learn where to rub shoulders with local industry players and learn about the tools and processes they use to develop software in the real world," he said.
Karen Allport, who meets with Southern Oregon University computer science students twice a term for tech workshops, said the hub has the ability to connect upper division students with tech firms needing interns and part-time or even full-time employees.
"We want business representative to interact with students on a platform where they can demonstrate their abilities," Allport said. "The Meetup element of the hub is the key, because people are already accustomed to going there. It's very important to be looping them through Rogue Tech Hub."
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.