SANDPOINT — Could the community become a haven in the Northwest for computer science and programming jobs?
Local officials certainly hope so.
In an effort to bring more tech jobs into town, Sandpoint Mayor Marsha Ogilvie and City Planner Jeremy Grimm visited successful software development business PlayXpert to generate some ideas. The visit was part of an economic initiative kicked off last year to foster solidarity between Sandpoint business and government.
“We’d like to build that critical mass to the point where this town might be known as a place to be for software developers,” Grimm said.
In the case of PlayXpert, the rural location doesn’t do much to hurt business. The company serves clients on a global level and has developed custom apps on Android, iOS and web-based platforms for companies ranging from Coldwater Creek to National Geographic. The company also offers three of its own revenue-generating products: GamerDNA, True Overlay and Kochava. With 22 employees, 19 of them full-time, PlayXpert keeps pace with the urban-based competition.
In a conference between PlayXpert CEO and founder Charles Manning and Ogilvie and Grimm, the three hit on some focus areas to attract more software development businesses into the area. A more developed fiber optic Internet service market was one important ingredient.
Nevertheless, Sandpoint has a number of qualities that are attractive for computer science industries, Manning said. After all, that’s why he and his wife moved here in the first place.
“We had about 15 towns on a list with the DNA marks we were looking for, and Sandpoint was number one,” he said.
Even better, as the town integrates more technological infrastructure and services, it will only become a more attractive option for companies seeking a certain lifestyle while pursuing their chosen profession. Part of Sandpoint’s appeal to tech companies is the simple ability to kick back and live a more relaxed life.
“I love that you can sit in a coffee shop here, talk about your ideas and not worry about who is listening in,” he said.
Then there’s the natural enjoyments — a big reason why Sandpoint is popular choice for relocation among the both the retired and those still in the workforce. Between the lake, Schweitzer Mountain and all the other outdoor attractions, the region provides several appealing advantages.
A big one for Manning is the lack of a commute. Riding into work on a bicycle is one of those distinct pleasures tough to find outside a small, compact community.
“I start out from my house on a bike and I’m here in 10 minutes,” Manning said. “You can’t beat that.”