December 16th was a huge day for the tech community in Southern Oregon. Zeal celebrated their office’s grand opening with an all-day open house and launch event—and they put on a heck of a day for everyone who made time to stop by. The morning coffee time was a chance to explore the very cool office space they have created. The staff baristas had three cups of coffee brewing at one time, and everyone seemed to be enjoying Zeal’s hospitality.
The space is incredible! The work area and conference rooms are separated from the ping pong room by a large open space with a wall of windows facing the sidewalk of Central Avenue—and there’s even a kitchen area in the back! They definitely have lots of room to grow before they need to move again.
The afternoon program featured speeches and a tour of local tech businesses. Seventy people showed up for speeches from the Zeal Staff, Ron Fox of SOREDI and Jim Fong of Workforce Oregon. Reporters from several local media outlets showed up to cover the event. Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler performed the ceremonial ribbon cutting, and representatives from U.S. Representative Greg Walden’s office were in attendance.
Following the afternoon program, almost 50 attendees participated in a tech tour through several of the local tech companies. The tour started at Lifeline Computer Solutions and then moved to the CBT Nuggets office. From there, the tour progressed to Procure Software, continued to an outdoor stop at the office that will be filled by Jake Wilson’s new motorcycle accessory store, and finished at Lithia. The tour provided a great opportunity for each company to highlight their business and the roles they intend to fill.
The evening event started at 6:00 p.m. with an open space conference. Adam Cuppy explained the concept of an open space conference and presented the convening question:
How can we make this region even more viable to the tech industry at large?
Participants added their desired topics to the discussion schedule white board, and ad hoc groups formed to discuss the ideas listed on the board. While only a small number of people were familiar with the open concept when the event started, people quickly caught on and gravitated to topics that interested them—and moved at will between the various groups.
Zeal has made their mark on Downtown Medford with their innovative build-out of the Woolworth Building’s first floor space, and their team has brought an amazing burst of energy into this area. Zeal’s nascent apprentice program promises to provide both training and guidance to budding techies, and keep them involved in the local tech community—with the overriding goal of expanding the local tech workforce.
The IGNITE Event has awakened dormant energy that exists all around Southern Oregon. Let’s keep that energy flowing and spreading to include everyone associated with our tech community!