2021 snapshot: EDB continues to grow high-wage jobs
How sweet it was to be back in person at the historic Tacoma Armory for the 44th EDB Annual Meeting Nov. 16. More than 300 business, organization and government leaders came together to celebrate, dust off their handshake and hug skills, and celebrate economic development in the South Sound.
EDB President Bruce Kendall welcomed attendees and reiterated the EDB’s mission – to grow primary jobs and businesses by working with partners to spur private capital investment, job creation, and diversity, equity and inclusion in Tacoma-Pierce County businesses.
Here’s a snapshot of the last five years (2017-21):
- 4,183 jobs recruited and retained
- $300,353,971 in wages and salaries generated
- $10 million in Industrial Revenue Bond Financing
- $321,180,000 private capital investment
- $102:1 return on investor dollars
Business recruitment and retention wins
“Even during the depths of COVID, the EDB retained and recruited great companies and jobs,” Kendall said. “We are only able to do this work because of our investors and partners.”
Kendall offered a rundown of recent wins:
- SAFE Boats anchored in Tacoma with $110M U.S. Navy contract. SAFE Boats International inked the remaining $90 million dollar U.S. Navy contract to manufacture and build Mark VI Patrol Boats headed for the government of Ukraine. The contract solidifies the company’s maritime expansion on the banks of Tacoma’s Tideflats and will add 75 new maritime workers to the shipbuilder’s South Sound workforce.
- Infoblox renewed its lease in Tacoma. Since selecting Tacoma in 2016 for its Center of Excellence and hiring hub, Infoblox has become the South Sound’s largest tech employer, growing from 45 to 172 employees. The decision to re-up their investment cements Tacoma’s burgeoning tech scene.
- NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics laid groundwork for $90M expansion. Through City of Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan Amendment Process, the company will double its building footprint, capacity and employees, if approved. NewCold’s fully automated and energy-efficient warehouse will minimize development and operational impacts on climate change. It’s an excellent example of sustainable solutions.
- LifeScience Logistics opened. The provider of supply chain solutions to health care systems, manufacturers and governments opened a new operation in Puyallup, which employs 60 people.
There are many more projects in the works. The EDB has 35 active business recruitment cases in the pipeline and 19 retention and expansion projects underway.
Clusters pick up speed
The EDB continued its cluster acceleration work throughout 2021:
- The Trade-Logistics Cluster Acceleration Team launched its five-year strategic plan and formed the Trade-Logistics Ambassador Program, focused on connecting employers with K-12 students.
- The Technology Cluster Acceleration Team implemented its five-year strategic plan through the Tech Success Stories campaign, a joint venture between the EDB, Startup253 and s2s Public Relations. The series spotlighted 12 Pierce County tech companies and yielded impressive results:
- Collective earned ad value: More than $367K
- Total engagement: 151.2K
- Total unique visitors: 14.5M
Upping our DEI game
Diversity, equity and inclusion are core to the EDB’s work. In 2021, the organization teamed with the University of Washington Tacoma Global Innovation and Design Lab to upgrade the EDB’s work program and took steps to implement several recommendations, including:
- Addressing board member diversity.
- Presenting informational webinars and programs, including the Get Ready for PPP online seminar for more than 450 small businesses, and programs with the Washington Minority Business Development Agency Business Center.
- Contracting with Rachel Askew and Grant Twyman of NEXT Consulting Firm to emphasize and enhance areas of the EDB’s work program that focus on DEI and service to BIPOC businesses.
- Tapping into funds for small businesses. Just ahead of the Annual Meeting, the EDB received word that they had been awarded a $1.8 million Small Business Innovation Fund grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce. As grant administrator, the EDB will passthrough funds to support work being done by its partners to bolster BIPOC businesses across Pierce County. You can read more about the grants here.
Watch for an update in a future issue of Onward about what came out of the Board’s retreat in October and a networking event with Pierce County Business Accelerator grads.
That’s just part of the story. To learn more about the EDB’s work during 2021 and what’s ahead, read the full 2021 Annual Report.