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June 28, 2018

City of Destiny’s ‘time to make it’ has come

  • Technology firms continue to locate and expand in Tacoma, inhabiting co-working spaces and incubators.
    City of Tacoma


    Tacoma has long held tightly to the moniker “City of Destiny” and shyly offered up that “You’ll Like Tacoma” but, today, the city no longer looks back and proclaims, “It’s time to make it Tacoma.”

    Startups and expanding businesses have benefited from the city of Tacoma’s low-interest loans for facility acquisition and improvements, the region’s only Minority Business Development Agency office, and specific training for small business.

    There is no business and occupation tax for businesses with under $250,000 in gross receipts, and a graduated tax up to $300,000. There is even a B&O tax credit of $500 per year for five years for every permanent family wage job created.

    Entrepreneurs took notice when Etsy named Tacoma an Etsy Maker City in recognition of the work the city has done to empower micro-businesses and its ongoing commitment to investing in local creative communities.

    The award-winning Spaceworks program, a joint initiative between the city and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, continues to activate vacant storefronts in Tacoma’s rapidly evolving downtown — providing venues, training and support for artists, craftspeople and inventors.

    Photo from the city of Tacoma [enlarge]
    Tacoma has more than $300 million in foreign investment downtown, with mixed-use centers and hotels under construction.

    Tacoma was built on manufacturing and industry, and the city regards its creative community as one of its most transformative contemporary forces. The “Tacoma aroma” is now a sweet scented shea butter soap made by Tacoma’s own Bicycle Soap Co.

    Skilled workforce

    Drawn by a growing community of innovators, technology sector businesses continue to locate and expand in Tacoma, inhabiting the city’s co-working spaces and incubators.

    The University of Washington Tacoma’s Institute of Technology, which offers degrees in cyber security, computer science, and electrical and computer engineering, has partnered with Infoblox, a Silicon Valley-based company, to host a Center of Excellence for Technology Innovation in downtown Tacoma.

    Infoblox says that, when its leaders were seeking to establish this center, they considered 12 communities across the nation. Their site selection focused on areas with higher education institutions that produce qualified computer engineering graduates, and an affordable cost-of-living for employees.

    Make it Tacoma
    The city has created a website called “Make it Tacoma” with links to city information and business resources. It can be found at makeittacoma.com.

    Tacoma and nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord offer prospective employers an educated, highly skilled workforce. One of the largest military bases in the country, JBLM delivers an average of 6,000 veterans into the local area’s workforce each year.

    Tacoma employers benefit from a range of private and public academic institutions, as well as three public high schools that focus on innovation: Industrial Design Engineering and Art, Science and Math Institute, and School of the Arts.

    Tacoma Public School’s graduation rate is now at 86 percent, higher than the national average, and Tacoma’s downtown core is home to the vibrant, walkable University of Washington Tacoma campus. Nearby are the University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran University, The Evergreen State College’s Tacoma campus, and several trade and technical colleges.

    Attracting developers

    Tacoma has more than $300 million in foreign investment in its downtown core alone, with mixed-use centers and additional hotel capacity under construction.

    Tacoma’s historic Brewery District continues to grow, offering residential and retail options and illustrating successes in historic preservation and adaptive reuse.

    Point Ruston, a $1 billion waterfront mixed-use project, has multiple housing, dining and entertainment options, including a luxury movie theater with industry-leading technology.

    At the Port of Tacoma, more than 4 million square feet of industrial logistics space and light-industrial centers are being added. With a deep-water port that imports more than $42 billion in goods annually, Tacoma offers prime access to Pacific Rim markets.

    Tacoma has six different census tracts designated by the state as Opportunity Zones. These zones allow for special federal tax breaks, encouraging development and job creation.

    Developers and builders have been using the city’s long-range planning tools to streamline land-use permitting, particularly downtown and the Tacoma Mall neighborhood. They also are benefiting from ongoing improvements to the city’s permitting processes for commercial and residential projects.

    Tacoma offers attractive real estate and occupancy costs, and Tacoma Power happens to be one of the most affordable electricity providers in the nation.

    Continuing to guide the city’s efforts is the Tacoma2025 strategic plan. This plan helps the city direct efforts and resources toward a clearly defined vision for its future, one that reflects community desires and current and future trends, and bolsters the city’s unique position within the region.

    Sunset Magazine recently named Tacoma one of the “20 Game-Changing Places to Live” and, for those already residing in Tacoma, it’s no great surprise. Affordable housing, as well as reduced commute times, help Tacoma’s workforce enjoy an exceptional quality of life, with miles of shoreline access under the watchful eye of Mount Rainier in one of the Pacific Northwest’s most progressive, diverse communities.

    As acting community and economic development director, Kim Bedier oversees the Community and Economic Development Department and Tacoma Venues & Events. Venues & Events’ portfolio includes the Tacoma Dome, Greater Tacoma Convention Center, Cheney Stadium and several theaters.

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