Cut to the Chase – Tacoma's Tech Column – Fridays in the IndexTacoma's New Wired Renaissance – Waiting to Explode

“People tell me Tacoma was not always a vital community wired into revitalization and economic development. As an optimist, believing that Tacoma is on the pulse of the 21st century, I thought it necessary to educate myself on the history of my new community. Tacoma, a town rich in architectural history, has not sacrificed its past to position itself as a technology destination. This controversial blending of past and present infrastructure resources sparked my interest in Tacoma’s movement into the future. Beverly Holland Tanis, Director of Public Relations and Marketing of Clover Park Technical College, described several rebirths Tacoma has undergone over the last 20 years. She defined the period surrounding the building of the Tacoma Dome as the renaissance. She went on to describe a second period of revitalization in the late 80’s and early 90’s centered around Broadway Center’s renovations. Is Tacoma currently entering into another renaissance? Colliers is renovating the art deco Woolworths to create space for high-tech start ups and renovating one of the Schoenfeld buildings to create a state of the art carrier hotel like the Westin in Seattle. These renovation projects are creating the infrastructure essential to supporting Tacoma’s high-tech futureWhat sparked this renaissance? Many, including Tanis, credit the foresight of the City Council for putting in place the technical infrastructure to position Tacoma at the forefront of technology in the nation. During the past three years the city invested $100 million in building Click! Network, the largest, municipally owned high-speed telecommunications network in the nation. This spurred AT&T, US West and others to invest more than $200 million in their Tacoma infrastructure. Nearly 700 miles of high-speed fiber optics and cable cover almost every block of our city. Mayor Ebersole comments on the impact of the Click! Network on the city, Tacoma is emerging as a haven for new and expanding businesses, especially high-tech. And for good reason. In today’s dot-com economy, the element that gives entrepreneurs an edge is speed, the ability to move large amounts of data through high-speed telecommunications. He also stated, The national business community, especially the technology industry, is taking notice. We’re seeing developers refurbish old buildings and put up new ones that are wired and ready to plug and go.Carrie Pickett, Technical Recruiter of Hall Kinion and resident of downtown Tacoma, states, Even living downtown you can see the change. New shops and businesses have opened revitalizing downtown neighborhoods.City officials commented that they never expected the business, education, and media sectors to support the wired image with such enthusiasm. Internal publicity has generated momentum for Tacoma’s #1 wired renaissance. Vehicles such as Cut to the Chase, KBTC’s The Digital Demand and Clover Park Technical College’s Tech Talk are building momentum for the #1 wired movement. Rob Greenlee, co-host and founder of WebTalkGuys, world radio show says his show is a platform for the promotion of local companies wishing to reach audiences in Asia, UK, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.Every great history lesson provides guidance toward tomorrow’s direction. What is needed to secure Tacoma’s physical and economic revitalization? Matt Ashworth, VP of Communications for, says, You can feel this town just waiting to explode. He points to the success of new high-tech businesses combined with the city’s rich heritage as making Tacoma a great place to live and work for years to come.The success of Tacoma’s #1 wired renaissance does rest to some extent on the triumph or failure of its high-tech industry. Tony Ginn, VP of Marketing for, a high-tech incubation company, describes the factors that are needed for a high-tech start up to succeed, For success to happen the company needs a compelling story behind its product, sound technology, a plan for profitability with in two years and founders who are willing to take a lesser role once financing capabilities create the opportunity for more experienced individuals to run the company. Saundra Koffin, Business Manager of Inform Puget sound, points to our previous history lesson in commenting on the viability of Tacoma’s economic redevelopment, Unity will take Tacoma into the future. If history repeats itself we will continue to see project like Click! Network move forward with the unified vote of the City Council. Unity between the government, high-tech, and real estate sectors has created a fine example of Tacoma’s future today. It will be very exciting to see the Tacoma Tech Center become a carrier hotel, providing the infrastructure Tacoma needs to move forward as a city leading economic development and downtown revitalization in the #1 wired renaissance.Please call or email Jamie Chase at 253-573-1030, or with comments on, or suggestions for future topics.Jamie Chase is director of public relations for ContractQuest. Chase writes this column on high-tech issues in Tacoma, Fridays, in the Index, and is the founder of E-business Day in Tacoma.”