Research

Seattle still shines as a growing hub for tech companies

Growth & talent are reaffirming Seattle as a top tech market

When it comes to technology jobs and talent, Seattle is firmly established as a prospering hub of innovation. According to office leasing data collected by JLL research, the Seattle/Puget Sound office market witnessed the second most leasing activity by technology companies for the four-year period from 2014 to 2018, just behind Silicon Valley.

JLL’s latest tech report states momentum and talent as two major factors impacting the real estate decisions of technology companies. To calculate momentum, the report analyzed the number of technology employees in a market and how quickly that figure is growing. So how does Seattle stack up to other major cities? Recent market shifts in both Seattle and Bellevue show that momentum is only growing.

Seattle tech momentum is on the rise

The Greater Puget Sound region has been well-established as a top tech market and the region’s hold is not letting up. Within the last year, Apple, Facebook, and Salesforce have all announced an increased presence. It was recently reported that both Apple and Facebook have large leases in the South Lake Union submarket at 333 Dexter and Arbor Blocks, respectively. Apple’s new two-tower campus provides enough space for 4,200 employees, nearly doubling their existing local workforce of 5,000. Not to be left out, Salesforce announced — along with their acquisition of Fremont-based software analytics firm, Tableau — that Seattle will become their second headquarters.  

Maintaining the tech talent pool

Marc Benioff, Salesforce co-founder and CEO, cited Seattle’s large talent pool as a factor in their continued growth in the Emerald City. The JLL tech report agrees. A market’s talent pool is the key to sustainable, long-term growth. Currently, 22 percent of Seattle’s educated population has a STEM* degree and the city’s two largest universities, the University of Washington and Seattle University, are each making calculated investments to increase that percentage.

The University of Washington has the largest STEM curriculum in the state and just opened the Bill and Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science and Engineering in February, which will help more than double their enrollment for computer science each year.

Seattle University recently broke ground on what will be called the ‘new heart’ of the campus — a $100 million Center for Science & Innovation. The university’s College of Science and Engineering is the fastest growing program, with enrollment in the 2018-19 school year seeing a 61 percent increase over the past decade.

The untapped potential of the Eastside

It’s not just the west side experiencing growth. Across the lake in Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond, tech companies are gobbling up space. In 2017, Amazon opened its first office building in Bellevue and recently closed on a development site in the city’s downtown core. The project is reported to be close to 1 million square feet, providing plenty of room for several thousand more employees. Microsoft continues to invest on the eastside – undergoing an overhaul of their Redmond campus by redeveloping the site to modernize it and make it more pedestrian-friendly. The redevelopment will also allow for an additional 8,000 employees.  

Onward and upward

While some thought that Seattle’s rapid growth would lead to a pending slowdown, it appears the opposite is true. By all leading indicators, it’s full steam ahead on all fronts and the continued growth of these hiring giants will have a positive impact on the region for the foreseeable future.

* Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

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