Maritime company moving its headquarters, 150 employees to downtown Tacoma

TOTE Maritime Alaska announced Wednesday that it is moving its headquarters to Tacoma from Federal Way.

The shipping company plans to set up its offices at 909 A Street in Tacoma in spring 2020, which most recently was home to State Farm, which announced its departure early last year.

In a news release Wednesday, the shipping company said the move will bring nearly 150 TOTE employees to downtown Tacoma.

“TOTE Maritime Alaska helped build the Port of Tacoma, and we are excited to be 100 percent located in the city that has supported our business and growth over the years. We look forward to bringing the TOTE office to Tacoma,” said TOTE Maritime Alaska President Grace Greene in the news release.

The company also has a Port of Tacoma office, and the downtown office will be the company’s second Tacoma location.

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards sees the move as a big win for the city.

“The City of Tacoma’s ongoing priority is to seek investments that match the strong market for office space that currently exists in Tacoma, and this includes helping businesses who have chosen to locate themselves in Tacoma grow and thrive,” she said in TOTE’s release. “With more than $1.5 billion currently being invested in development projects in downtown Tacoma and surrounding areas, expansion is ongoing for Tacoma’s multi-family residential, commercial and industrial markets as our city continues to attract local, regional, national and international capital.”

Port of Tacoma Commission president Clare Petrich also issued a statement.

“The Port of Tacoma is thrilled for TOTE Maritime Alaska to relocate its headquarters to downtown Tacoma,” Petrich said. “For more than 40 years TOTE has made Tacoma its home port. This move further solidifies the Pacific Northwest as the gateway to Alaska.”

Tacoma has found itself recently on the radar of King County business interests, with a Seattle business delegation set to tour Tacoma next month in a visit organized by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

The TOTE move also comes as Puget Sound Energy’s liquefied natural gas facility at the Port of Tacoma awaits completion. TOTE is set to use the facility to fuel its two Alaska vessels, Midnight Sun and North Star.

The Tacoma LNG facility is not the only one connected to TOTE.

Its sister company, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, has two ships that currently use LNG as fuel as they travel from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico and back.

The marine and truck-loading LNG facility in Jacksonville, opened in May and serves TOTE Maritime’s Clean Jacksonville, “the first LNG bunker barge built in the U.S.,” according to JAX LNG, and is the long-term LNG supplier to the Isla Bella and Perla del Caribe, operated by TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico.

The Tacoma LNG facility has come under fire from the project’s critics, who have repeatedly raised questions about its safety and its role in the environment amid a larger fossil fuel debate in regard to global warming.

PSE has defended the project as a cleaner alternative to bunker fuel for ships at the port and for its future service in serving residential and commercial customers with natural gas reserves during the coldest days of winter.

The Tacoma LNG site faces upcoming public hearings on Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s preliminary determination that the project has met requirements toward final approval of its air permit.

Those hearings will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 10 p.m, Aug. 27 at the Rialto Theater, 310 S. 9th St., Tacoma.