Add golf: Economic Development Board outlines successes at annual meeting

Portable putting greens in the foyer foreshadowed the keynote speaker’s presentation Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

Before she spoke, there was business to discuss.

The EDB, said President and CEO Bruce Kendall, has kept faith with its motto promising to “compete every day forever,” and has been able to count several successes over the past year.

The latest “Excellent 10” accomplishments, Kendall said, included:

•  The coming of Bass Pro Shops to Tacoma (350 new jobs).

•  The announcement that Boeing would construct its 777X tail assemblies at Frederickson.

•  James Hardie Building Products (47-acre development; $28 million investment).

•  MultiCare Rainier Pavilion ($90 million capital investment).

•  The Garfield Street Project at Pacific Lutheran University ($20 million investment).

•  The Portside Business Center (six buildings in a “spec” development.)

•  Lumber producer Sierra Pacific Industries ($24 million investment).

•  South Sound 911 call center consolidation (“Will save money and lives in Pierce County,” Kendall said).

•  Toray Composites (groundbreaking for its fifth expansion since 1992).

•  University of Washington Tacoma YMCA ($21 million invested; 40 new jobs).

Kendall also announced two allied winners of the board’s annual Golden Shovel Award, presented in 2015 to the ports of Tacoma and Seattle following the recent announcement of their Seaport Alliance, which will consolidate some operations at the two facilities.

In its printed annual report, the EDB said it finished 2014 with net assets of $2.66 million.

Then came golf.

In introducing keynote speaker Mimi Griffin, CEO of the event management team at MSG Promotions, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy noted that there remain just over 100 days until the opening tee shot at the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place.

Those days, she said, will remain busy with several factors — including transportation, parking and security — yet to be resolved.

Benefits of the tournament, she said, will accrue not just to University Place but “it will be the entire state of Washington.”

Griffin, who will oversee corporate hospitality and catering at the event, delineated the facilities that are being built to accommodate thousands of visitors during what she termed “the Super Bowl of golf.”

She said volunteers, who filled the eligible register in a record 36 hours, will come from 45 states and 10 countries, and she predicted that 150 million people will watch the tournament over seven days of television coverage.

“The world is coming to your doorstep,” she said. “What impression do you want to leave them with?”

If local residents show the world “a small percentage of the of the hospitality” shown to her, she said, “you will leave a human legacy that will last a lifetime.”

Beyond golf and back to business, Kendall said after the meeting, “Regardless of sector, we’re seeing growth.”

“A huge sign of optimism,” he said, comes from inquiries concerning Class A office space and speculative building, plus interest from “well-capitalized conservative companies that don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

“I think we’re getting closer,” he said.