Wednesday, February 17, 2016
INDEPENDENCE — The city of Independence continues its innovation efforts through education and smart agriculture programs, said Shawn Irvine, economic development director, at the Feb. 9 council work session.
“The story that’s beginning to form is we’re trying to be this hub,” Irvine said. “People will come to town, spend money and shop. Hopefully we’ll have people coming to set up base to do research.”
Independence has been marketing itself as a technological hub with the help of the high-speed fiber available through Monmouth Independence Networks.
Irvine said the idea of innovation spreads to the schools, where hopefully students will learn about coding and how to use and manipulate technology, and learn to be entrepreneurs.
Business Oregon has shown interest in the efforts because it is a model for a new economy in Oregon, Irvine said.
“That’s been a tough nut to crack,” he said. “We want to take tech and marry it to smart ag. They’re interested in learning more about it.”
Another thing that has been percolating is the idea of a tech incubator, a physical building where tech companies can share office space and try something new, Irvine said.
Councilor Nancy Lodge suggested that the old city hall building, currently under foreclosure proceedings, would be a perfect location for a technology incubator.
“That’s one of the places I’ve looked at,” Irvine said. “These incubators, the older the building, the better. They’re the kind of place you don’t want them to stick around there. Get your feet under you and get your own office space.”
Foreclosure proceedings on the old city hall have been delayed for various reasons.
Councilor Tom Takacs asked what tech companies are looking for.
“One, skilled workforce, programmers, techies who can say, ‘I’ve got an idea; you’ve got an idea; our ideas fit; let’s make a business,’” Irvine said. Tech companies are looking for “those people and opportunities to connect to those people,” he said.