The message was clear and the room was full.
“We are creating our future together,” said Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
He was speaking on Friday at the annual meeting of the board at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center.
Some 550 business leaders, business owners, elected officials and others were gathered to network and to make sense of the region’s economic future.
That future, Kendall said, is sound.
As indications, he indicated a renewed emphasis on projects including the expansion of state Route 167, changes to the business and occupation tax, progress in K-12 and higher education, and better access to permits in the area.
He also named the winners of the annual “Excellent 10” awards, featuring companies that have made major investments in the area. These are:
• Amazon, with an $80 million, 350-employee project in DuPont.
• The 42-acre Carlisle Construction Materials plant in Frederickson.
• 100 jobs with Coordinated Care in downtown Tacoma;
• Safe Boats International at the Port of Tacoma, with 60 employees.
• Phase One of the $100 million Point Ruston project;
• EnCon Washington, with 100 jobs in Frederickson.
• The Grand Alliance shipping consortium adding 400,000 new containers annually at the Port of Tacoma.
• A major donation of Western art to the Tacoma Art Museum by the Erivan Haub family.
• The expansion of medical facilities in Pierce County.
• The expansion of Sound Transit to Lakewood, the opening of the Murray Morgan Bridge and other transportation and infrastructure improvements.
As part of the overall congratulatory mood of the meeting, the bureau also awarded its Golden Shovel to former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, who, over 36 years, was in many ways responsible for projects ranging from Pierce County freeways to a new federal courthouse. “He never, ever forgot where he came from,” said Bev Losey of Brown and Brown Insurance, who introduced Dicks.
She mentioned his involvement in the expansion of the aerospace industry, growth at JBLM and in downtown Tacoma, and his leadership during the tribal Land Claims Settlement negotiations.
In accepting the award, Dicks said he began his career in Congress by helping secure support for Tacoma’s Pantages Theater. His resume grew to include work on Union Station, University of Washington Tacoma, aerospace again, and most recently, finally, the Tacoma Streetscape project.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “I remain optimistic.”
After the meeting, which featured a keynote address by McClatchy national economics and finance correspondent Kevin Hall, Kendall offered his own brand of optimism, saying, “We’re seeing signals that are genuine that companies are investing. Last year they were only talking about it.”
“It’s real,” he said. “It’s real.”C.R. Roberts: 253-5997-8535 email@example.com