Microsoft today will mark the grand opening of a new engineering facility in Vancouver, B.C., that will allow the company to more than double its workforce in the Canadian city three hours north of its headquarters in Redmond, Wash.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be on hand this morning for the event at the new 142,000-square-foot development facility, at 725 Granville, which consolidates Microsoft’s Vancouver workforce into one place. Previously, its 350 Vancouver employees worked in three different offices. Over the past year, Microsoft has grown to 568 employees in Vancouver. The new Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre will accommodate approximately 750 people.
Microsoft President Brad Smith, speaking with GeekWire in advance of the event, said the opening of the new facility is big for Vancouver, but he also hopes it starts a movement towards a “Cascadia high tech corridor.”
“We want to also start talking about and really investing in this region not just as a single city or one important country but as a corridor that actually connects two big important cities and two countries,” Smith said.
Microsoft Vancouver employees work on apps like Skype and OneNote, video games like Gears of War, and apps for HoloLens.
Vancouver makes sense for Microsoft because of the city’s strong technology scene and several nearby universities that supply new talent.
In addition, Smith said Canada’s immigration policies are less stringent than the U.S., allowing Microsoft to pull top talent from all over the world for its Vancouver office.
Clive Wilkinson designed the Vancouver office, and it has two community rooms with a capacity of 150, numerous collaborative spaces and the Maker’s Garage: an area that focuses on experimental hardware and software projects.
Microsoft has been in Canada since 1985, and its operations there are headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario. It also has employees in the San Francisco Bay Area. Microsoft is “knitting together what I’d call a string of pearls on the West Coast of North America,” Smith said, but Washington state, with 44,000 employees and the company’s headquarters, remains the main hub.