SACRAMENTO, CA - When you think technological innovation, Silicon Valley most likely comes to mind. But Sacramento is becoming a growing player in the technology field.
Brian Watwood invented the Wiji; he got the idea in 1987, after he was hit by a car and became disabled.
"I couldn't operate wheelchairs because my hands didn't have the strength to push the wheels," Watwood explained.
The Wijit is a lever drive mechanism that can be retrofitted onto manual wheelchairs. The medical device technology start up, based in Roseville, is one of 450 tech companies in the region spanning from Yolo County to the foothills.
"It's one of the best kept secrets in the region," Meg Arnold said.
Arnold is the CEO of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance, also known as SARTA. It's a nonprofit group that aims to accelerate growth and development of local tech companies.
While the government has historically been one of the largest sectors of employment in the Capitol City, technology is a rapidly prospering and diverse field.
"We have things like Med tech, clean tech, agricultural tech given the heritage of the region and software and application developers," Arnold said.
The group's luncheon on Friday brought all of the players together, along with Tim Westergren, the Bay Area based founder of Pandora, to share his story about the online music company.
"It's an exciting place to be," Westergren said. "I know there are a lot of entrepreneurs in this room."
Take, for instance, your home's thermostat. One of the companies that makes them, Residential Control Systems, is based in Rancho Cordova and has been around since 1999.
"We private label a lot of our products," RCS President Michael Kuhlmann said.
From more established companies to start ups that are just making their way, local tech companies are proving to be a driving force in the local economy.
"There's more going on in Sacramento than meets the eye," Wijit's President Larry Haswell said.