Tacoma Urbanist

Jan. 6, 2008 at 1:05am

Seattle Times : *Rumor Mill* Rules Out Russell Move to Seattle, Federal Way is a Prime Competitor

Today, the Seattle Times weighs in on Tacoma's "Russell Challenge."

They assert that have some inside information not known generally in Tacoma:

People close to the effort say Russell won't consider anything past the city of SeaTac. The Tacoma rumor mill says Russell CEO Craig Ueland has ruled out Seattle or Bellevue.

That would make sense, since 87 percent of the company's employees live no farther north than Federal Way, according to Project Destiny.
Mayor Baarsma is quoted in the article:

"If there is a checklist of things that will be detrimental to staying in Tacoma, we have a big eraser to erase those checkmarks."
       
From the article, it looks like Tacoma is in competition primarily with Federal Way:

Rival offers are sure to pour in. "We're definitely mobilized to respond to the potential opportunity," says Federal Way director of economic development Patrick Doherty, who is working with property owners in his city on proposals to Russell.



Commentary:

Russell:

Are you serious about considering moving to a land of strip malls and asphalt which functions as a "city" in name alone.  Federal Way makes Tacoma look like Portland.  You would never be able to walk to lunch again or anywhere else for that matter from your building.  Federal Way's mayor even abandoned the city and now works in Tacoma restoring historical buildings.


..........



comments [12]  |  posted under russell, tacoma, washington

Comments

by jenyum on 1/6/2008 @ 8:14am
It really does make me wonder if it's all about the School Districts, that being the only advantage I can think of that Federal Way has over Tacoma. Well, Project Destiny, are you going to fix the school district? Because I could definitely get behind that.

The elementary schools are coming up in the world and doing better, but if it all falls apart in Junior High and High School that really doesn't matter.

by michael g. on 1/6/2008 @ 10:25am
Won't the Russell folks with influence over their corporate decision send their kids to private schools anyway?

by jenyum on 1/6/2008 @ 10:34am
True, but if one of the things influencing their decisions is reluctance of employees to move to Tacoma, it could be a factor.

I keep thinking of this thread in the exit133 forums.

It may be no big deal for execs to send kids to private school, but at 10K + annually per kid it's a bit too much for the mid-range employee, even at Russell.

I also think the Tacoma school system, like the rest of the city, has a pretty serious PR problem.

by Erik on 1/6/2008 @ 3:02pm
True, but if one of the things influencing their decisions is reluctance of employees to move to Tacoma, it could be a factor.

Tacoma has mountains to climb but the fact is that it is in far better shape than anytime for decades. If one knows where to go and what to avoid, you can have a great experience and avoid most of the problem areas.

I keep thinking of this thread in the exit133 forums.

Yeah. That was a good one : the mindless disconnected suburbs v the city.

by scout on 1/6/2008 @ 4:44pm
"True, but if one of the things influencing their decisions is reluctance of employees to move to Tacoma, it could be a factor."

Doesn't a significant percentage of Russell's workforce already live in Tacoma?

by jenyum on 1/6/2008 @ 5:45pm
Only 40%, I think I read somewhere in some thread or other.

I'm thinking also about what recruiters hear from prospective employees, and what is motivating their existing employees to live elsewhere, or to choose to move away.

It's a pretty common pattern for people to move out of the district when their kids get old enough for school, or old enough for junior high.


Tacoma has mountains to climb but the fact is that it is in far better shape than anytime for decades. If one knows where to go and what to avoid, you can have a great experience and avoid most of the problem areas.


I know! You are definitely preaching to the choir. But if you look at district wide stats and news stories it's not looking too inspiring from the outside.

by andrew.austin on 1/6/2008 @ 6:39pm
I love it how you tell it like it is Eric. Thank you for the honest!

by Erik on 1/8/2008 @ 12:03am
love it how you tell it like it is Eric. Thank you for the honest!

My pleasure. Thanks for your continued efforts on being such a booster for buses.

by Erik on 6/10/2008 @ 8:45pm
Tacoma Urban oriented reporter Dan Voepel concludes that

Russell CEO’s resignation could be good for Tacoma

Craig Ueland’s resignation Monday as CEO of Russell Investments removes the most powerful advocate for moving the company’s headquarters out of Tacoma.

Civic leaders who banded together last year to try keeping the global financial services company in Tacoma with a $150 million incentive package believed Ueland wanted to move to Seattle.

Some Russell associates who listened to Ueland disparage the Tacoma headquarters options and talk glowingly about Seattle in an April all-employee meeting believed Ueland wanted out of town.

What, then, does Ueland’s departure mean for the decision on where Russell will make a future corporate home for its 1,200 Tacoma associates?

Tacoma’s chances just got better – maybe.


www.thenewstribune.com/business/story/38...

I guess that's good. Tacoma almost got South 5'd again.

by Nick on 6/11/2008 @ 9:32am
I suppose actions do speak louder than words as they say. Especially when there haven't been any official words yet.

As much as Tacoma's image has struggled, it is definitely on an upward trend. From purely an image perspective, I can't imagine Federal Way being very competitive with Tacoma. Hmm. . . a port city with industrial roots and a rich history on its way out of a trubled recent past, or a "not-worth-caring-about" Federal Way that nobody outside the state would know existed. Nothing against Federal Way, but I would never live there... Heck, we have a freakin' car named after us! :-)

by fredo on 6/11/2008 @ 9:47pm
If the Times article is correct, then maybe Tacoma doesn't need to offer FR a such a generous package of incentives. We probably compare favorably with FW even without the $65M package previously proposed.

Here's my proposal: scrap the incentives and let the chips fall where they may. The decision is going to be made soon and nothing is going to happen within the school administration in time to affect the decision.

by Erik on 6/11/2008 @ 10:08pm
Here's my proposal: scrap the incentives and let the chips fall where they may.

You might want to rent Roger and Me first and see how companies leaving cities can be devastating:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-sD6boQfvk

and

www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3gvHWf7ldY

If the incentives don't work, then there is nothing lost.

If Tacoma is ever going to be able to retain large companies here, it is going to have to learn how to compete as other cities do.