Limelight Technologies, a provider of database design services, business-to-business technology services and integrated web support services for the agriculture and processed foods industries, has opened an office in Tacoma that could become national headquarters for the company within a year.

Martin Rodriguez, vice president for business development, says the company came to Tacoma as a direct result of the city’s new Click! Network telecommunications system. By summer of 2001, he says, the company expects to employ up to 45 information technology professionals here with salaries ranging from $35,000 to $85,000 a year.

“We anticipate Tacoma will become the premier development site for Limelight,” Rodriguez says. “Tacoma is the place to be. It’s growing, and the infrastructure is already here.”

The farm belt, however, is where the bulk of the company’s customers are. Limelight applies computer-based technology to the agriculture and non-agriculture industries, in much the same way that computers now can tell the operator of a John Deere combine the temperature of the soil of the soybeans he’s harvesting.

Limelight currently has five employees but is poised to increase that number to 15 by March 2001 in the company’s present offices at 1111 Fawcett Ave. and to at least 45 by summer. That’s when Rodriguez and founders John and Jeff Brady say the company will formally move its headquarters here from Fort Collins, Colo.

Limelight Technologies designs, develops and integrates Internet-related products based on Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Oracle programs. The company also has offices in Toronto, Ontario and Davenport, Iowa. Rodriguez says it’s likely the firm will always have an office in Fort Collins and another in Davenport, due to the company’s close association with the agriculture industry and Iowa’s location in the nation’s heartland.

Rodriguez and the Brady brothers—all three Tacoma natives and lifelong friends—plan to aim their services at longstanding companies nationwide.

John Brady, a former contracted employee of John Deere Co., started the company in Davenport last year. The equipment manufacturer now owns 10 percent of Limelight.

Jeff Brady, who is vice president for research and development, already is based in Tacoma.

Just last month, Limelight merged with Agribiz.net of Toronto, which offers Internet consultation, Web design, systems and Intranet design and installation primarily to the agriculture industry. The transaction was facilitated by vTraction.com, a division of Rabobank of Ultrecht, the Netherlands. Rabobank lists assets of $290 billion.

Tacoma’s quality of life played just as important a role in the decision to move here as its $100 million Click! Network, Rodriguez says.

“You get off work here,” he says, “and in five minutes you can be at the waterfront—you just can’t beat that.”

He and his partners don’t want Limelight to be a 60-to-80-hour a week sweatbox.

“We don’t want people to burn themselves out,” he says. “Family is too important. Our culture will be family.”

By Richard Sypher, Business Examiner staff