Geoff Folsom, February 3, 2015, Tri City Herald
A New York-based software company is opening a Richland office, lured here by a strong Tri-City education system and a desire to be closer to Microsoft — but not too close.
Live Tiles LLC plans to open its research and development operation within 30 days the Tri-Cities Research District, said Phil Randall, the company’s global products lead.
Its software features a “drag and drop” business app that allows for easy design of a website using Microsoft products, the company says.
Live Tiles’ software first launched in late 2013 and has a million subscribers, including some of the world’s largest companies, according to the company.
The research park’s proximity to Redmond-based Microsoft was one of the key reasons that Live Tiles was interested in moving to Richland, though it was looking for something outside the Seattle area, Randall said.
“Not being in an expensive, big city was a key,” he said.
Randall said the company also likes that it shares similar goals with the growing 1,700-acre Richland research district. And the company is interested in being near the talented work force at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The company plans to start with five Richland-based employees — working in programming and coding — but he said that will change.
“We’re hoping to grow quite rapidly over the course of the year,” he said.
The Tri-Cities has a small but growing software sector, said Carl Adrian, president of the Tri-City Development Council.
“I think that adding another software company is going to help the economy grow,” he said.
People shouldn’t be discouraged by the relatively small number of initial employees Live Tiles is adding, Adrian said.
“Economic development is not all home runs,” he said. “It’s singles that hopefully turn into doubles at some point.”
Live Tiles has offices in Australia, Asia and Europe, as well as the United States, said Diahann Howard, the research district’s executive director.
“It is exciting to have a global company come and put its offices here,” she said. “We’re really proud to have Live Tiles here.”
The Tri-Cities has a top-tier education system, allowing Live Tiles to work with Washington State University Tri-Cities, Columbia Basin College and Delta High — the STEM school being jointly operated by the Richland, Pasco and Kennewick school districts.
Randall said they’ve already met with education leaders.
Among those was CBC Senior Vice President Bill Saraceno, who said they discussed hiring students for full-time jobs and internships, as well as supporting Live Tiles training activities.
“We are fully supportive of him establishing his company in the Tri-Cities and supplying him with needed manpower and space for training programs,” Saraceno said.
Live Tiles initially will move into a 700-square-foot leased space at 3250 Port of Benton Blvd. Howard said that will likely grow and they might eventually get their own building.
Live Tiles is not receiving any incentives to move into the research park, which is already home to operations for 80 other companies, Howard said.
The company has started interviewing locally, Randall said. He said the company’s average salary will compare “very favorably” to those in the area.