Spaceworks Tacoma, a joint venture between the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Tacoma, has a new director, one who understands the ebb and flow of managing a creative business.
Michael Liang gleaned his business acumen at a young age as he watched his parents run a photography studio out of their southeast Michigan home.
As Spaceworks’ director, Liang, 33, was hired in August to link artists and other creative individuals, like his parents, with organizations that can help them launch their small business ventures.
Liang oversees training, finds retail spaces, implements the installation of public art, and creates special projects designed to showcase the artists and the city in which they live. However, Liang wasn’t always so focused on business.
After graduating from University of Michigan, Liang was stationed in the tiny land-locked town of Stehekin on the northwest end of Lake Chelan, where he worked as an interpretive ranger, helping visitors find personal connections to nature.
“That’s when the Northwest grabbed my heart,” he said.
His road to Tacoma then took a circuitous route through the National Park Service (NPS) in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, where he worked in visual graphics and communications. His goal was to make the parks more accessable to everyone.
Through his work with NPS, Liang learned to navigate the tricky labyrinth of bureaucracy, a skill that helps him as he works to connect people to public resources in his Spaceworks role.
Read on to see a typical day in Liang’s life.
8 a.m. An early morning photo before the coffee kicks in. I live in Tacoma’s Stadium District and can take the 11, 13, or 16 bus to my office downtown.
8:15 a.m. Greetings from 950 Pacific Ave. Fun fact: Spaceworks Tacoma is a program within the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.
10 a.m. Once a month, I meet with our amazing Spaceworks Tacoma steering committee. Such great support for a first-time program director.
11:30 a.m. En route to another meeting (via the 28 bus) and reviewing a survey about the Streetscapes design elements in the Hilltop neighborhood.
Noon Waiting for a coffee with one of our alums from the Tacoma Tool Library. I’ve been trying to meet as many people as I can in the first few months.
1 p.m. Checking in with Andy, one of the project managers with Links to Opportunity.
1:30 p.m. Program directors carry lots of different keys and wear lots of hats. This afternoon, I met up with fire marshals to inspect the vault inside the old KeyBank in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. Spaceworks Tacoma also leases co-working spaces.
2:30 p.m. Decided to walk to my next meeting, from Hilltop to the Tacoma Municipal Building.
3 p.m. A room full of creative “makers!” How do we expand upon the success of being named an official Maker City by Etsy in 2016?
6 p.m. No more meetings, but still a few more emails to respond to before dinner.