Bellevue is a magnet for tech companies, and Meta is no exception. The social media giant formerly known as Facebook has successfully broadened their footprint throughout the Puget Sound region, starting with their first office in Seattle 12 years ago to recently purchasing REI’s 400,000 square feet of newly developed office space in 2020.
The expansion to The Spring District, close to Downtown Bellevue and soon only two stops by light rail, has allowed them to grow over 8,000+ employees in the region, making the Pacific Northwest their second largest engineering hub following their Silicon Valley headquarters. Paresh Rajwat, Meta's new head of office for the Pacific Northwest, said The Spring District is accessible and complementary of their Seattle and Redmond offices, allowing them to cater to talent from across the region.
“What attracted us to The Spring District is its engineering talent, central location, and future as a transit hub. Most of all, we wanted to be part of the dynamic and innovative growth Bellevue is experiencing and the powerful partnerships it brings,” Rajwat said. “We’re thrilled to be part of this world-class tech community, from the incredible academic institutions, vibrant startup ecosystem, and global companies that have teams here.”
Last month, Meta held an official grand opening for their new Spring District offices, unveiling their latest technologies, including the Meta Quest 2 VR headsets and the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses. While innovation in the tech industry continues to be a focal point, Meta noted at the open house that they want to continue building a foundation with local shops and partnering with organizations in the area. In 2020, Meta handed out $8.5 million in grants to help small businesses throughout the Puget Sound region.
“Simply put, we want to be a good neighbor. This includes building social value and supporting the preservation and enhancement of our neighborhoods and cities,” Rajwat said. “With these and future programs, we want to continue contributing to the economy and community here.”
One of Meta’s notable moves for Bellevue’s future was a $2 million investment into the development of the Eastrail Corridor, an uninterrupted 42-mile trail that will connect and provide the Eastside communities with new opportunities for non-motorized recreation and transportation. Meta also focuses on strong relationships with the city and community organizations, including as a member of the Bellevue Downtown Association.
“Meta is a perfect fit for this exciting new transit-oriented neighborhood. We look forward to partnering with the company in the future and appreciate their ongoing efforts to be a regional partner,” Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson said.
Aside from their partnerships and new technologies, Meta’s grand opening also emphasized their ongoing support for artists in the area. Through their Met Opens Art program, they’ve become one of the fastest-growing commissioners of local art in the Puget Sound region. You can find 36 installations by 38 different artists inside their Bellevue offices alone, including the Tribeca Award-winning Emerging Radiance AR art installation.
“Meta Opens Art empowers artists through creativity and demonstrates the social impact potential of pairing art and technology together,” Rajwat said. “By investing in local artists, the program supports small businesses and the larger art community.”
Needless to say, Meta’s future presence in Bellevue remains strong. Rajwat states a lengthy list of partnerships they’re looking forward to – including plans to sponsor a monthly market starting May 2023 in The Spring District with partners Bellevue Farmers Market and The Spring District Common Authority, managed by Wright Runstad.
“This is the community many of our employees and I live and work in. We want to see our city thrive,” Rajwat said. “Through our support and contributions, we hope to be a partner in creating the best Bellevue possible and continue to make this place a true hub of innovation.”