Weekly B-MOW: Getting to Know Pierce County

That’s right, it’s time for the third installment of our new weekly feature: Best Meeting of the Week. Each week, we’ll highlight one of our adventures in the world of economic development, sharing the most interesting, exciting or unique things that the Prosperity crew is doing. This week’s B-MOW? A fabulous “familiarization” tour of Pierce County…

To help introduce the Prosperity Partnership’s newer staff to just a taste of what Pierce County has to offer, this week the Pierce County Economic Development Division organized a tour of some of the area’s key economic development engines.

First stop: the Port of Tacoma. In case you didn’t already know, the Port of Tacoma handled more than $36 billion in annual trade and nearly 2 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent container Units) in 2008—making it the 7th largest container port in North America. If you ever get a chance to visit the complex, I highly recommend it. Watching the longshoremen whisk containers around with incredible speed and precision is an awesome sight.

Thanks to some truly unique assets—including on dock rail and remaining land to support expansion—the Port is poised for incredible success in the years ahead. There is, however, still plenty we, as a region, can and should do to help support its growth. First and foremost, it’s obvious that the Port could benefit from continued infrastructure investment in surrounding areas to help support the movement of both imports being shipped around the country via Tacoma (creating logistics and distribution jobs in the region) and exports being shipped out of Tacoma (including a good many being processed or manufactured in Pierce County).

Next up: the industrial areas of Sumner and Frederickson. The next time someone tells you that manufacturing doesn’t work in the Puget Sound, kindly point them to these large and bustling manufacturing and distribution centers. Everything from tortillas to composite materials and aircraft parts is being produced in just these two pockets of Pierce County. In fact, officials in Pierce County routinely worry about ensuring the availability of industrial sites for new companies and expansions. Case closed.

On to Lakewood, where we were able to see some of the city’s efforts to stimulate growth through public works projects (funny how expanded sewer capacity—kind of icky to think too much about on its own—always excites us economic development types) and to take full advantage of the expansion of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. There seems to be a solid consensus throughout the region that we need to do more to expand local contracting activity with our bases.

A visit to Chambers Bay made it immediately obvious why the facility is such a boon to our region’s economy. The nationally regarded course and picturesque setting have put University Place on the map in a way that nothing else could. Just think of how many free hours of tremendously positive television coverage the region has received and will receive as a result of the U.S. Amateur (held in August) and the U.S. Open (to be held in 2015)!

Our day ended with a tour of the Center for Urban Waters, a cutting edge facility and research center tackling issues related to water quality, management, and treatment. Part of the Center’s plans include real-world testing of new technology and treatment solutions. Hmmm, that reminds me of something…. the Prosperity Partnership’s BETI. You know we love it here on the blog when our thinking aligns with that of other smart people.

I think I’ll have to head back to Pierce County again soon.

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