25 Years in Tri-Cities - LiveTiles & Beyond!

In the last two years, I've talked a lot about how Tri-Cities needs to leave its 20th century identity behind. I want Tri-Cities to redefine itself as a place where privately-held, growth-oriented companies can take root in the 21st century and change not only the economy, but the culture of this place. This year, 2015, marks 25 years since I hopped out of a mini-van that had just cross the United States to arrive here in the desert, and it's going to be a big one.

First, at the encouragement of friends and the incentive of finally being able to lead a team, I have joined LiveTiles, a software startup based out of New York and started in Australia that builds UX design tools for Microsoft platforms. I will be the "Team Lead & Technical Architect" for the LiveTiles Tri-Cities office in Richland, building up the internal software development team for the company and returning to the land of C#, Visual Studio, and Windows.

As I'm sure every economic development office in Tri-Cities would tell you: LiveTiles was attracted by the lower cost of living (see chart on the right), time-zone difference from Asia (more forgiving than US East Coast), and the availability of technical expertise in the area. Combine that with the generosity of time and resources from Port of Benton and Washington WorkSource in helping an out-of-town Australian step off a plane, open an office, and hire two employees in a month, and you've got a great story about how Tri-Cities is ready for international business to take root and flourish.

My unique perspective that has shocked a number of people that I've related my new job to is that they also chose here because they consider us "close to Microsoft". Three hours in a car might seem like a while to us, but compared to a cross-country (or trans-pacific) flight, we are next door neighbors.

Being down the street from the largest software maker in the world (by revenue) gives us a unique advantage we need to seize. Not instead of completely independent business efforts, but in addition to them. I believe the tech community at large has never really embraced this proximity to Seattle - since a lot of Tri-Citizens spend a lot of time redefining ourselves versus "them" - and I do hope to nudge us more toward accepting our geographic happenstance, as we were so able to in the last century, to take a new strategy in attracting and building something new in this desert.