OtherOEN Talks with Silicon Shire Visionary Cale Bruckner

OEN recently caught up with Cale Bruckner, the Eugene entrepreneur who had a vision to brand the Eugene-Springfield technology sector as an alternative to the Bay Area or Portland. He called it the Silicon Shire and created an online, interactive map of the companies that make up the shire.

We asked Cale to share his inspiration and what’s happened since the Silicon Shire launched earlier this summer.

What’s happening in the Shire today?
Since it launched, the Silicon Shire movement has grown and caught the attention of both local and national media and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who visited the Shire to discuss jobs; grown to include area microbreweries (not just tech) and now lists 130 businesses.

The University of Oregon is also behind the project, and students are using the directory to connect with jobs. What’s more, the Silicon Shire and University are planning a career fair in November.

Why Eugene-Springfield?
The Eugene-Springfield area supports a vibrant and growing technology community. There are many successful technology businesses here due to the tech-friendly community, and steady stream of talent from the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Lane Community College.

Even so, there aren’t a lot of people who know this yet. Many of our college graduates leave Eugene-Springfield looking for work without knowing there are fantastic tech opportunities in the area. As a community, we need to let the world know we’re here.

We meet a lot of U of O computer science students who assume they’d have to leave Eugene and go to San Francisco, Portland or Seattle. Often, they’re not aware that there are tech companies thriving here who are hiring.

Why Include Microbreweries?
We added microbreweries because shire folk love beer, and it says something about the community we’re fortunate to have here.

Why the Silicon Shire?
The inspiration for the Silicon Shire project came to me on the way back from a business meeting in San Francisco.

Looking out the window as the airplane flew over the valley on it’s approach to the Eugene Airport, I thought to myself – I’ll take the Silicon Shire over the Silicon Valley any day of the week. The green trees, the rivers, the natural beauty, and our community, reminded me of the Shire described in the J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit.’

I thought we needed a name, a website and a directory to give people a sense of how much we’ve got going here in Eugene-Springfield.

I took that feeling, combined with a desire to give back to the Eugene-Springfield technology community, and together with my team at Concentric Sky developed the Silicon Shire concept.
To support the Silicon Shire, we developed a website to help spread word. The website (www.siliconshire.org) provides an independent directory of technology businesses in the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area. Technology businesses not included in the directory can submit their details and be added for no cost.

It’s our hope this campaign will improve the visibility of our growing technology community. It would be great if someday our community were as well known as the Silicon Valley, Silicon Forest, or Silicon Alley. Please help us spread the word about the Silicon Shire. You can also show your support by following @siliconshire on Twitter.

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