There is also a “desire to improve diversity,” he said by building a presence in cities like Atlanta, Miami and Washington, which have large populations of black and Hispanic Americans who are underrepresented in technology. Chicago, for example, has few tech jobs and college students who want to work in the industry will have to move to other cities after graduation, Yasukochi said. But that is changing; Google, Facebook and Amazon now have branches there.
Tech companies are going where the talent is, rather than “pulling people into a handful of cities,” said Dianne Crocker, lead analyst for LightBox, which delivers data and software to the real estate industry.
Still, the Seattle area, home to Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft, and Zillow, was the biggest beneficiary. Most of the new leases in the area are in the nearby towns of Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue, east of Seattle across Lake Washington.
Downtown Seattle is “closer to expanding capacity,” said Yasukochi, but the so-called East Side has room for companies to expand. Some companies are building mini-campuses, others are pouring into new developments like Bellevue’s Spring District.
Microsoft is adding 17 buildings and 8,000 employees to its headquarters in Redmond, approximately 15 miles northeast of Seattle. Amazon plans to hire 25,000 employees in Bellevue.
The growth is also coming from emerging technology sectors like the commercial space industry, which is booming thanks to an increase in production and launches of satellites for communication and observation from companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and successful spaceflights from Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. About 40 space-related companies such as satellite manufacturers employ more than 6,000 people in the Seattle area; As of August, they listed more than 1,000 open positions, said Stan Shull, executive director of Alliance Velocity, an aerospace consultancy.
“A real ‘space cluster’ of large companies, start-ups and venture capitalists is growing here,” he said.