Group hopes to start nonprofit promoting high-tech business

A $50,000 donation from the Jackson County Board of Commissioners today will kick start a local effort to promote budding high-tech, clean-energy businesses.

The Sustainable Valley initiative is an effort by local business and community leaders to brand Jackson County as the place to come to start a high-tech business.

The brainchild of Jackson County officials and the Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc., the plan would start an organization that would provide office space and support services and line up venture capital for entrepreneurs.

"It's an economic development strategy that will nurture and create family-wage jobs through technology," said Jessica Gomez, one of the owners of Rogue Valley Microdevices in Medford.

Gomez and Mark Von Holle are co-chairs of the promotion and will spearhead an effort to raise $2 million over the next two years to provide seed money and support services for emerging high-tech business.

The sustainable valley idea is modeled after similar ventures such as Plug and Play in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Sonoma Mountain Business Center in Sonoma County, Calif.

The $50,000 county investment is the first step in a six-month process to raise $180,000 to incorporate Sustainable Valley as a nonprofit, pick a site to locate the facility that will help local entrepreneurs, prepare a three-year business plan and line up another $500,000 for operations and investment from local, state, federal and private sources.

— Damian Mann

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