The Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County celebrated the South Sound’s innovators at its 40th Annual Meeting on March 8, 2018 at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center. With an audience of over 550 business, civic, nonprofit, and education leaders in attendance, the Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of economic development decision-makers and influencers in the South Sound.
Board chair, Greg Unruh, is president of the Franciscan Foundation, and was the event’s emcee. He welcomed the capacity crowd and introduced the packed agenda, which featured awards and panelists speaking about innovation. After providing an update on the important work CHI Franciscan Health is doing in Pierce County, Unruh passed the mic to Bruce Kendall, EDB president and CEO.
Citing the EDB’s approach to serving its clients and partners, Kendall highlighted his favorite phrase: “Compete every day forever.” He later used the theme of “cranes, planes, and brains” to describe recent development in Pierce County.
- Cranes are visible when a project has reached the active building stage. Whether they’re construction cranes or the four new super-post-Panamax cranes at the Port of Tacoma, these structures are harbingers of more jobs for Pierce County.
- Planes: The RFP for the next great Boeing aircraft, currently called the NMA (New Mid-market Airplane) is likely to arrive this year. The EDB is part of the Governor’s Choose Washington Council, which brings together players from government, business, labor, and economic development to win the NMA.
- Brains: The Institute of Technology at UW Tacoma has been a key driver of our tech growth. The arrival of incubators and shared work space that are essential to collaboration, startups, and business growth in technology fields confirms South Sound as a budding technology hub.
Each year, the EDB recognizes “The Excellent 10;” ten projects that have made a significant impact on the Pierce County economy. The 2018 award winners, listed in alphabetical order are:
- 7 Seas Brewing Company, Tacoma: Launched in 2009 by Travis Guterson and Mike Runion, Gig Harbor-based 7 Seas Brewing Co. is growing fast. Their second location is a 10,000 SF, family-friendly taproom that opened in Tacoma’s historic brewery district in August 2016. 7 Seas has been voted “Best Brewery in the South Sound” multiple times, and distributes its beers throughout all of Washington. 7seasbrewing.com
- The American Job Center at JBLM: WorkForce Central and PacMtn collaborated to open a WorkSource affiliate site, The American Job Center at JBLM, in July 2017. It is the most comprehensive site affiliated with WorkSource to be located on a US military base. The Job Center co-locates comprehensive job-seeker services under one roof and provides access to multiple services in a single visit. bit.ly/2txQ1tK
- The announced Behavioral Health Hospital, Tacoma: The Washington State Department of Health approved the application from MultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health to jointly build and operate a new $45 million Behavioral Health Hospital in Tacoma. This collaboration will dramatically improve access to much needed behavioral health services for the residents of Pierce and South King counties. bit.ly/2DerucO
- Foothills Trail extension, East Pierce County: The Foothills Trail is a 21-mile regional trail that links the urban core of Puyallup with east Pierce County cities. The trail parallels SR 162 and SR165, and offers ADA-accessible, safe, and direct means of non-motorized travel. It provides smaller cities and towns economic development opportunities that are consistent with their rural character. bit.ly/2FHUIX3
- Infoblox, Tacoma: Attracted to the quality of life in Pierce County and the opportunities to partner with the UW Tacoma Institute of Technology, Silicon Valley-based tech firm Infoblox established its Center for Excellent and Hiring Hub in downtown Tacoma in 2016. In 2017, Infoblox expanded its employee count from 45 to 120, and has stated its goal to employ up to 200 FTEs in 2018. infoblox.com
- Lakewood-Tacoma Logistics Center, Lakewood: Located just 12 miles from the Port of Tacoma is the Woodbrook Business Park, home to the new Lakewood-Tacoma Logistics Center. The City of Lakewood re-zoned 150 acres, and added sewers, a roundabout, and additional infrastructure to the park. The Thorne Lane interchange is being rebuilt as a part of the I-5 JBLM Congestion Relief project. The building will open April ’18. lakewoodtacomagateway.com
- New Sound Transportation, Fife: Strategically located between the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle, New Sound Transportation is one of the region’s largest public cold storage facilities, designed with food safety and efficiency as the top priority. The new energy-efficient facility features a 20,000 SF state-of-the-art freezer and chill storage facility. The building serves as the company HQ and employs 100 people. bit.ly/2p1RvqB
- RAIN Incubator, Tacoma: The nonprofit Readiness Acceleration and Innovation Network (RAIN) Incubator was founded as a collaboration between passionate people who wanted to bring regional assets together such as the UW Tacoma, MultiCare Health System, and Madigan Army Medical Center to unlock local innovation in the life sciences. RAIN opened its doors in September 2017. www.rainincubator.org
- Union Club, Tacoma: The Union Club is a coworking space contributing to Tacoma’s growing artistic and entrepreneurial communities. It combines a makers space, event hall, coworking spaces, and private offices in a 15,000 SF historic building in downtown Tacoma. The Union Club’s goal is to support and promote local art and technology by creating a gathering place for creatives and entrepreneurs. www.unionclubtacoma.com
- Wilcox Family Farms, Roy: Family-run Wilcox Family Farms is recognized for high-quality, sustainable egg production and agricultural practices. In 2017, the company received a Work Force grant from the State of Washington, which will enable Wilcox to respond to more stringent government regulations by providing necessary worker and supervisor training. Wilcox employs 150 people in Roy. www.wilcoxfarms.com
The EDB created the “Golden Shovel” award to honor businesses, organizations, or individuals that have made a significant contribution to the economic well-being of Tacoma-Pierce County. Because great universities make great communities, the 2018 winner of the Golden Shovel award is the University of Washington Tacoma.
UW Tacoma’s role in downtown Tacoma’s physical transformation to a thriving urban hub is beyond compare. The business and civic communities in the South Sound have embraced UW Tacoma from the very beginning and the doors between campus and the community remain wide open. The Milgard School of Business, the Institute of Technology, and the Urban Studies program are widely known. The recently launched Dressel Scholars program is the university’s latest innovative program that will serve this community for generations.
- About UW Tacoma: bit.ly/aboutUWT
- About UW campaign: www.tacoma.uw.edu/boundless
- Dressel Scholars contact: Joe Lawless 253-692-5685, firstname.lastname@example.org
Innovation Works Panel
Tom Layson kicked off the “Innovation Works” panel by asking Andrew Fry if Pierce County has what it takes to be innovative. His response, supported by all four panelists subsequent comments, was a resounding yes. Carla Santorno pointed out – tongue in cheek – that the first step to innovating is to “leave the lawyers at home” in order to foster creativity. Debbie Lee said that Tool Gauge focuses on cultivating talent and capacity in its workforce. Dona Ponepinto stressed the importance of working with a wide variety of partners from across the community to alleviate poverty.
- Andrew Fry, Director of Industry Partnerships, Institute of Technology, UW Tacoma, tacoma.uw.edu/tech | email@example.com
- Debbie Lee, CEO, Tool Gauge, www.toolgauge.net | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dona Ponepinto, CEO, United Way of Pierce County, uwpc.org | email@example.com
- Carla Santorno, Superintendent, Tacoma Public Schools, tacomaschools.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Moderated by Tom Layson, Managing Editor, KBTC and Producer-Host of Northwest Now, www.kbtc.org/northwest-now | email@example.com
About the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County
Founded in 1978 as a private nonprofit, the EDB focuses its work on recruiting new firms to Pierce County, retaining those that are here, and helping all of them expand. The EDB supports companies to create new jobs and to grow the economy of the South Sound and Washington State, USA. In the past two decades, the EDB has worked with companies that have made over $1.6 billion in capital investments and created over 25,000 jobs. edbTacomaPierce.org