What Tacoma Can Teach Our Region

By: Alicia Teel Posted: 09/30/2019

A two-day trip gives local leaders new insight

ISSM Tacoma 2019More than ever, our regional economy depends on partnership – across cities, organizations, and sectors. This month, the Seattle Metro Chamber teamed up with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and Puget Sound Regional Council to show over 50 delegates what sets the City of Destiny apart.

With over 10,000 people moving to Tacoma in the last eight years and more than $1 billion being invested in their downtown infrastructure, the city is a far cry what you might remember from the 1990s. Over the course of our study mission, our delegates met with local business and civic leaders, took a boat tour of Commencement Bay, explored historic Tacoma districts, and heard from Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards on her vision for the city’s future. 

Diana Birkett Rakow, our board chair and vice president of external relations for Alaska Airlines, shares her big takeaways:

We all need forcing functions to get outside ourselves. Sometimes, even more so when it’s close to home. The Seattle Metro Chamber’s In-State Study Mission to Tacoma started with a train ride – a reminder of the progress we’ve made in regional transit and a platform we should build on.

While in town, we learned about the city’s incredible graduation rates, assets to drive tourism, creative partnership between Seattle and Tacoma Ports to bring greater trade and revenue to the region, innovation between Puget Sound Energy and TOTE for cleaner and more sustainable energy, and beautiful cultural spaces and community. We also visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which is home to about 40,000 men and women serving our country – and hundreds of thousands of family members, reservists, retirees, civilian workers, vendors and partners, who are all part of its ecosystem and over $9B in regional economic impact.

Throughout the trip, there was an amazing sense of pride, of place and community-building, and an overtly spoken attitude that growth is good – especially when we plan for it. That doesn’t always mean it is easy, but local and regional leadership are clearly committed to working with business and local communities to make that happen.

I came away awed by the resources and platform for inclusive, warm, smart growth right here in our backyard. And of course, having built some valuable new relationships, not only with new leaders in the Tacoma region, but with other members and participants in the delegation. This is the value of these missions – connection, learning, and an opportunity to see things in new ways and help business continue doing good.

Thanks, Diana! To see more from a delegate’s perspective, check out our #issmtacoma highlight over at @SeattleChamber on Instagram.