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Avant Assessment, 2009 winner.

Byline: Sherri Buri McDonald blue chip

David Bong is back in the CEO spot at Avant Assessment, the web-based language assessment company he co-founded in 2001.

He had retired from the company, stepping down in 2010 when industry veteran Michael Patterson took the helm.

Patterson "came on and did many good things for the company ... it's much stronger and deeper," Bong said. However, the company hit a challenging patch, so it closed the Portland office it had opened a year earlier and shifted its center back to Eugene.

"It was time for us to refocus on our core strengths in language," Bong said. "It made sense for me to come back.

"Nobody knows the business as well as the founder, or has as much passion or vested interest in the success of the company."

On June 1, Avant moved into 3,500 square feet on the fifth floor of the Woolworth Building at 960 Willamette St. from another location downtown.

The company has 45 employees - about 20 in Eugene, 10 working from their homes in Portland, and the rest working remotely from elsewhere in the country.

In mid-August, Avant hired a new chief technology officer, Jeff Carter, who brings "a wealth of experience in the education technology field," Bong said.

Avant is a leader in foreign language proficiency assessment for the government. So the sequester, automatic spending cuts earlier this year by the U.S. government, affected the company's business, Bong said.

"A lot of our government business didn't materialize, so we've had to move into a new area," he said.

That area is the Middle East, where the Quatar Foundation - a nonprofit organization focused on education, science and research, and community development - hired Avant Assessment to build and administer a test of Arabic for native speakers.

"Their concern is that the kids are losing their Arabic," Bong said. "They're losing their culture, they're speaking more English."

Avant has been working on the project for the past year and has been delivering the tests across the Middle East since May, Bong said.

Avant Assessment won the Emerald Award for Innovation in 2009.
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Title Annotation:Blue Chip
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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