Our Town: Eau Claire- From Blue Collar To High Tech

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When the Uniroyal plant in Eau Claire closed in 1992, more than 1000 people lost their jobs, but in the 15 years since, several high tech companies have found a profitable home in the Chippewa Valley.

Dale Johnson worked at Uniroyal for 27 years- from 1965 until he lost his job in 1992.

“When we first received the notice of the closing, everybody was very surprised because we had no idea the plant was going to plan on closing,” Johnson says. “Up to the last day was kind of quite sad because everyone knew that their whole life was going to change, probably for the worse for a lot of people.”

But life has changed for the better for local high tech companies. Silicon Logic Engineering designs advanced chips for supercomputers, satellites, and networking equipment. In the past decade, the company has grown from 6 employees to 40. Co-founder Jeff West says Eau Claire’s unique workforce is a big reason for their success.

“One of the things we like is the stability. As opposed to places like silicon valley or Boston or Austin, Texas, the work base here seems to be much more stable. You don't have the turnover partly because you don't have as many high tech companies here but again its part of the Midwest culture that people that come here want to be here,” West says.

Silicon Logic is also working on two army contracts, which make up about 25 percent of their business.