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Economic Development in Kirkland

Kirkland is acknowledged to be one of the most livable cities in the Puget Sound region. Its picturesque waterfront setting on Lake Washington and central location immediate to Seattle, Redmond and Bellevue, make it a desirable community for living and for working. In 2014, Money Magazine ranked Kirkland as #5 in its Best Places to Live in America issue.

Kirkland City government supports a strong, diverse economy with quality services and infrastructure. Prudent financial management has earned the City Standard & Poor’s AAA credit rating year after year. The future needs of businesses are anticipated and addressed through research and careful planning, and technical assistance is provided to help businesses thrive.

Parkplace Talon developmentExpanding Economy

Kirkland’s tech-savvy and entrepreneurial heritage dates back to the 1980’s, when McCaw Cellular, aiming to build a nationwide cellular network blazed a trail for future entrepreneurs at Carillon Point. After the company was sold, many members of the original McCaw team went on to pursue new telecom ventures. Kirkland’s varied and diverse economic roots include Rosetta Inpharmatics, a pioneering biotech software company focused on measuring gene activation that was founded in Kirkland. It went public and was ultimately acquired by Merck. Retail powerhouse Costco had its headquarters in Kirkland for many years, and was inspired by its home town to launch the Kirkland Signature, private-label brand that has made Kirkland a household name for millions of consumers worldwide. In 2016, Kirkland formed the Innovation Triangle, a partnership of Bellevue-Redmond-Kirkland that is focused on inviting technology and innovation-intensive businesses to experiment, develop and prosper in our Eastside communities.

Today, companies like Google are emblematic of the innovation business culture that pervades Kirkland. Google recently celebrated its ten-year anniversary after having opened its first small office in 2004. Rapid growth has led to occupation of larger and larger spaces and Google doubled the size of the campus and created room to hire 1,000 more employees in 2016.  Assisting in that growth, the Cross Kirkland Corridor (a 5.75 mile segment of the Eastside Rail Corridor being developed as a multi-modal transportation corridor) runs between the two Google campuses and alongside 1700 other businesses, offering an alternative, healthy route to transport employees from home to work.

Healthman HotelIn addition to high-tech firms, Kirkland’s economy includes quality national and boutique retail businesses, banking, professional services and healthcare. Top employers include Google, PACCAR’s Kenworth Truck Company, Astronics, WB Games, Wave Broadband, Inrix, Tableau and Bluetooth Special Interest Group.

Numerous commercial and residential development projects have been completed in recent years, and others are working their way through the development pipeline. An example includes a major downtown redevelopment project at the 11-acre Kirkland Urbanlinks to external site announced in 2014. It will include office space, residential apartments, retail and entertainment. In nearby Totem Lake, just north of downtown Kirkland, The Village at Totem Lake is also being developed.

Read a recent 425 Business Magazine Articlelinks to external site on the Business of Kirkland.

Carillon PointDemographics

Kirkland is a growing, prosperous and diverse community that attracts people from all over the world. Kirkland’s population to an estimated 82,590 making it the 6th largest city in King County and the 12th largest in Washington State.

Along with population growth, Kirkland is becoming a more diverse community. Between 2000 and 2010, Kirkland’s minority population grew from 14.5% to 20.7%. With the growth of the region’s high-tech and computer industries, Kirkland is becoming a younger city as well. In 2010, roughly 50% of the population was between the ages of 25-54.Kirkland is home to 37,450 households. As of 2012, Kirkland’s median age is 36.6 years and median household income is $86,656.

As of 2015, Kirkland has over 5,000 registered businesses and employs over 37,000 people. Roughly 40 percent are home-based businesses, and between 15 percent and 20 percent of these are involved in software development.

Kirkland is expecting a growth spurt to accommodate 8,361 new housing units and 22,435 new jobs by 2035, which averages out to about 363 housing units per year and 975 jobs per year. For comparison purposes, from 2006-2011 the city gained about 1,500 units for the six-year period or around 250 units per year.


Kirkland is fortunate to be a higher education hub. There are more than 15 colleges and universities within 15 miles of the city.

Inside Kirkland, the University of Washington Foster School of Business has its Eastside Executive Center where students are enrolled in an 18-month program to provide working IT professionals with the knowledge and managerial skills to advance their careers. Northwest University offers 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including programs in Business Administration geared toward working professionals. Lake Washington Institute of Technology offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs in a range of disciplines, including architectural graphics, computer security and network technology, engineering graphics, information technology/applications development and multimedia design. In nearby Redmond, DigiPen Institute of Technology, is a recognized leader in game development education.