December 7, 2021

2020: EDB and partners worked together like never before

What a 21 months it’s been since the last EDB Annual Meeting. But even during a global pandemic, economic development continued. The Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and its partners worked together in unparalleled ways.

“My thanks to our investors who provide us the resources to recruit and retain primary firms and run our cluster acceleration program,” said EDB President Bruce Kendall in his remarks to attendees of the virtual 2021 EDB Annual Meeting. “We continued to work the top of the pyramid where those primary firms reside – making a product or service here and largely exporting it outside the region, thereby bringing in new dollars.”

2020 required muscle

In response to a global pandemic and social and racial issues, the EDB grew some new muscles. For instance:

We pivoted to help businesses survive and thrive. The EDB ran the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant program with the Washington State Department of Commerce. Business-saving grants were awarded to 176 businesses across Pierce County. Grantees included 47 women-owned businesses, 23 BIPOC-owned business, 12 veteran-owned businesses and 1 tribal-owned business.

We created a COVID-19 town commons. The EDB partnered with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce to host 100 COVID-19 Business Information Series webinars. Hundreds logged in each session to hear from experts on pandemic response and recovery.

We rewrote our work program – twice – to ensure we were responding to the pandemic in the best way possible.

We launched a capital campaign, then paused that campaign, then relaunched the campaign. In the end, the EDB hit 93 percent of its goal.

We grappled with our personal and organizational response to racism. For the first time, the EDB’s new work program includes specific BIPOC elements, and the board of directors adopted a policy to ensure that it becomes more inclusive and reflective of our diverse community.

We bolstered our cluster acceleration teams. Last year, the EDB launched the new Logistics and Trade Cluster Acceleration team and rejuvenated the Technology Cluster team.

Opportunities ahead

Going forward, the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County remains laser focused on helping companies grow here and bring in new firms. Three key factors guide that strategy:

The accelerated adoption of new technologies across all industries.

Changes and challenges to the global supply chain, including the local demand for manufacturing space.

Increased demand for safe, tolerant, healthy and digitally sophisticated communities.  Companies will not grow where they can’t hire the right people.

That’s just a glimpse of 2020 and what’s ahead. Read the full 2020 EDB Annual Report to learn more about the EDB’s COVID-19 pandemic efforts, response to racism, business retention, recruitment and expansion projects, cluster acceleration work and more.

Did you miss it? If you were unable to attend this year’s EDB Annual Meeting, you can watch the video recording here. (Use the passcode 59$tT7U6)


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