A number of high-tech Chippewa Valley companies are coming together to raise awareness of the region as a technology leader.
Members of the newly formed Chippewa Valley High-Tech Alliance, which held its official kickoff event Tuesday evening at Volume One, indicated they want more people to understand all of the exciting things going on at area technology companies.
“The alliance really is about creating sort of a buzz about technology in the Chippewa Valley,” said Jim Ward, president of Eau Claire-based Applied Data Consultants, one of 14 initial companies that have signed on to be part of the group. “The idea is make the Chippewa Valley go viral.”
A key goal is to increase the talent pool by marketing the area as a destination for people seeking careers in the technology industry.
“We all share the common goal of wanting to attract the best talent we can get to help us in our various high-tech endeavors,” Ward said.
Whether the region becomes widely known as the “Silicon Valley of the Midwest,” a moniker that occasionally has been used in economic development marketing campaigns, or some other catchphrase, Ward said the intent is to make new college graduates and young tech-savvy professionals aspire to work in the Chippewa Valley.
Part of that involves ensuring job seekers understand the breadth of technology companies with operations in the Chippewa Valley, including several that do business internationally.
“We want to make sure people know that if they come here for a job there are plenty of other options if something doesn’t work out,” said Tom Arneberg, an engineer at Intel’s chip design plant on Eau Claire’s west side.
Arneberg said his own employer could benefit from the increased awareness CVHTA seeks.
“Everybody knows Intel, but it seems like nobody knows we’re here,” he said.
The alliance also aims to showcase the cutting-edge skills of people already employed in the local technology sector.
It’s rare for a relatively small area such as the Chippewa Valley to have such a concentration of high-tech companies, and even students at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and Chippewa Valley Technical College don’t always realize that, said Jason Pecor, vice president of business development at Superion Technology, which does custom computer chip design at its Eau Claire facility.
CVHTA leaders say they plan to generate awareness through social media and meetings with key educators, lawmakers and business and economic development groups. Members also hope to support employees and students by organizing functions, providing incubators and promoting collaboration.
Founding members of CVHTA are: Applied Data Consultants, Cray, Draft Design House, Entropy Multimedia, Evrisko Systems, Idexx Laboratories, Intel Corp., JAMF Software, JB Systems, RAI Stone Group, Realityworks, SGI, Satellite Six and Superion Technology.
The group is inviting other local companies that employ technology as the core of their business or that rely on technology to deliver their products or services to join the coalition.
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