An improved high school graduation rate, a lower unemployment rate and a positive financial outlook. A $325 million streets initiative. The passage of Sound Transit 3. The development of a policing project to build better relationships with Tacoma’s minority and underserved communities.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland delivered her final State of the City address to a sold-out crowd at the Hotel Murano downtown Wednesday, highlighting those achievements and others in her seven years as mayor. Strickland’s second term comes to a close at the end of this year, and term limits prevent her from running for re-election.
The event, organized by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, was televised on TV Tacoma. About 260 people attended, and general admission tickets sold for $40 each.
The theme, “Educate. Connect. Prosper,” fit the newsiest tidbit that came from the roughly 40-minute speech: Strickland’s late-term push to find ways for Tacoma’s workforce to take advantage of a coming construction boom.
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Thousands of new housing units are planned for Tacoma, the city is continuing to repave and upgrade its streets, and the expansion of Tacoma Link light rail is gearing up. Those projects and more hold promise for Tacoma’s economy and workforce, Strickland said.
“We have a lot of jobs that are coming online over the next 25 years, but are we ready to have people prepared to fill those positions?” she said. “Conservative estimates forecast that there will be more than 220,000 direct and indirect jobs from these investments, and that’s a low number. So we ask ourselves if we’re ready to help as many people as possible to access jobs that pay on average $60,000 a year plus benefits.”
In that vein, Strickland said she wants to convene a summit this spring to bring together people who need job skills and companies who need able workers.
“It’s a way for us in Tacoma to ensure that we have a workforce that is qualified and is ready to do the work that we know is coming online,” she said.