MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
Monday, June 16, 2014
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:33 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.
Councilor Voisin, Marsh, Slattery, and Lemhouse were present. Councilor Morris arrived at 5:34 p.m. Councilor Rosenthal arrived at 5:36 p.m.
Mayor Stromberg switched agenda items with Council consent.
1. Presentation by John Lee of Folium Partners (as requested at June 3 Council meeting)
John Lee and Steve Christensen, co-founders of Folium Partners, a company that builds applications for mobile devices and the publishing industry, explained why they were moving their company to Portland, OR. They established Folium Partners in 2009 and were the first company to receive a $300,000 equity investment reward from the Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network.
Mr. Lee explained startup companies typically looked to local resources like Southern Oregon University (SOU) for employees. Startups cannot afford high-end salaries and offer experience and stock options instead. Another part of labor was volunteers who had already made their money and received a larger percentage of the company stock. They focused on students from the Computer Science program at SOU and discovered the program did not cover basic concepts and students did not have a strong foundation essential for skilled programmers. They ended up getting interns from Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) in Klamath Falls and had to compensate them more to cover rent and other expenses.
Mr. Lee suggested OIT insource their computer science program into SOU as Oregon Healing & Science University (OHSU) did with their nursing program. This was an idea he had broached with Senator Wyden, Representative Buckley, and Governor Kitzhaber. Possible matching funding could come from the Engineering Technology Industry Council. Representative Buckley went on to set up a meeting with the President of SOU whose focus was more on graduate school than the computer science program. Mr. Lee was concerned that students were graduating from SOU with a degree in computer science and could not code.
Mr. Lee did not know how Ashland could build and support a technology sector without a constant feeding of labor. It was difficult to establish businesses in Ashland, there were concerns on size and lack of other job opportunities as well as salary. Establishing an incubator in Ashland would help. They were moving their company to Portland to have a labor pool and access to capital.
Council noted the change in SOU presidents might present an opportunity for the City to influence possible change. Alternately, the City could look at other elements of the economy and not assume high tech will be the ultimate industry in Ashland.
2. Look Ahead review
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
Meeting adjourned at 6:46 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder