*NEWS*LIFE AFTER HP………
*NEWS*LIFE AFTER HP………
2006-01-03 at 12:14:00 pm #13611
Life after HP
aerial view shows the Hewlett-Packard campus along the Willamette
River. In the last year, HP has cut more than 700 jobs from its
Corvallis looks to replace jobs shed by shrinking tech giant
news hit like a hammer blow: Hewlett-Packard announced in May that it
was cutting 570 jobs at its Corvallis campus through a voluntary
Even factoring in the positive impact of HP’s
generous severance payments, an Oregon State University economist
calculated the loss to the mid-valley economy at $112 million in gross
By year’s end the news was even worse: At least another 139 jobs at HP had been lost, raising the toll above 700.
were some of the best jobs around, too, with high salaries and good
benefits. As the OSU economist, Bruce Sorte, put it: “When you take
away a job like you have at Hewlett-Packard, your economy actually
What can Corvallis do to replace the loss of 700-plus top-quality jobs?
question, says Mysty Rusk, executive director of the Corvallis-Benton
County Economic Development Partnership, “is the one I lose sleep over.
… I think it’s in the forefront of everybody’s mind.”
news is that Rusk and dozens of other leaders in government, academia
and business – including HP – are working to do something about it.
Economic Vitality Partnership, a coalition of 14 local business
interest groups, has launched a campaign dubbed Prosperity That
Fits.Through a survey of community members, a poll of randomly selected
businesses and a series of public forums facilitated by a professional
consulting firm, the group plans to create a business action plan to
guide economic development efforts in Corvallis and Benton County.
building lots of public input into the process, the EVP hopes to
short-circuit the public opposition that has dogged so many development
proposals and repackage Corvallis as a community that is open for
business – at least, for business that fits.
A similar process led by the Downtown Corvallis Association is under way to revitalize the city’s commercial core.
the industrial side, veteran businesswoman Jean Mater conducted a
survey last year to identify the challenges and opportunities facing
Oregon State University has ratcheted up its
technology transfer efforts. In addition to increasing licensing income
for the university, the aim is to spin off local companies based on OSU
research – companies with the potential to generate local jobs.
Austin Entrepreneurship Program, housed in the renovated Weatherford
Hall, is also seen as a potential job engine. The recently completed
Kelley Engineering Center, billed as “a home for innovation,”
reinforces the message that research and commerce should go hand in
hand, as does the university’s plan to build a research park at the old
OSU poultry farm.
Another university-based effort, the Oregon
Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, is starting to hit its
stride. Housed in rent-free space donated by Hewlett-Packard in
Building 11 of the Corvallis campus, ONAMI pairs academic and corporate
researchers with scientists from the Department of Energy’s Pacific
Northwest National Laboratory.
“We’ve completed our lab in building 11,” said Skip Rung, ONAMI’s director. “PNNL has completed their lab.”
in addition to supporting the work of the Economic Vitality
Partnership, the Economic Development Partnership continues to pursue
its own efforts to assist local businesses and attract new ones.
are a handful of large companies looking at Corvallis as a potential
location, Rusk said, including a biofuel producer, a manufacturer of
light equipment and a biotech firm. There’s no way to know at this
point whether any of them will proceed further, but if they all did,
Rusk said, “it could be as many as 500 jobs over the next three years.”
of her energies, Rusk said, are focused on retention – helping
companies that are already here succeed. And those efforts are bearing
ATS Oregon, a maker of factory automation equipment,
credited the EDP, the Chamber of Commerce and Linn-Benton Community
College with helping to locate and train some skilled technicians the
company was having a tough time finding. General manager Jim Sheldon
said recently the assistance was crucial in helping ATS land a $24
million contract with a big biotech company, a contract he expected to
lead to at least 20 more hires.
Perhaps the most intriguing
job-creation initiative to come along in years also comes from the EDP.
Chaired by Rung, its aim is to recruit microtechnology companies from
Seattle, Silicon Valley and Southern California.
expertise we see in Corvallis,” said Rung, a former HP research and
development manager who notes that the company’s Corvallis campus is
the birthplace of inkjet printing technology and boasts the world’s
most advanced microtech facilities.
All of those highly skilled
engineers who left the company this year form an attractive labor pool
for other firms working in the field.
Other Corvallis companies
engaged in microtech activities include ATS, Korvis Automation, ImTech,
Tripod Data Systems and numerous small shops and consulting firms. And
of course, Rung adds, there’s ONAMI.
“We think we’re an attractive
destination for microtechnology companies, particularly some in the San
Francisco Bay Area who know they have to go somewhere cheaper,” Rung
High-tech entrepreneur Joe LaChapelle, who serves on the recruiting team’s advisory board, is not so sure.
are a lot of good places to do high-tech business,” he points out. “You
could argue that we’re cheaper than the Bay Area, but that gap is
LaChapelle is an OSU grad who spent time working in the
Bay Area before returning to Corvallis a few years ago and teaming up
with two Oregon partners to launch Deep Photonics, a manufacturer of
ultraviolet lasers. He thinks his small company is a likelier model for
economic recovery: a homegrown startup that expands gradually over time.
kind of jobs we want, in Corvallis and Benton County in particular, are
going to be generated by us hitting a lot of base hits here,”
But Rung, Rusk and others believe Corvallis may
have an ace in the hole when it comes to attracting outside microtech
firms, and it comes from a somewhat surprising source: Hewlett-Packard.
intriguing byproduct of years of downsizing at HP’s Corvallis campus is
space, and lots of it. Although HP officials could not be reached to
confirm it, there’s a growing buzz around town that the global
high-tech giant might be willing to lease some of that space to outside
“It’s a legitimate possibility,” said Rung, who thinks HP
might even consider leasing out parts of its state-of-the-art lab
facilities in addition to straight office space.
“Obviously, they would be very selective about who they make that space available to,” he said.
But he also noted that HP’s local real estate manager, Steve Love, has a seat on the microtech recruiting team’s advisory board.
the end, Hewlett-Packard – the company whose deep job cuts have sparked
a recruiting scramble – could wind up being the city’s best recruiting
“They will be part of the effort,” Rung said, “and they support the effort.”