Year In Review — Russell Investments Departs

In October, Russell Investments’ 900 employees began the move from its 12-story building on 909 A St. in downtown Tacoma to its new home in the former WaMu Center, located at 1301 Second Ave., in downtown Seattle. The global investment advisory firm founded in Tacoma in 1936 grew to become downtown’s largest private employer. The company was purchased by Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Insurance (NMI) Co. in 1998. With leases set to expire in 2013 and out-of-town ownership, many wondered if the company would remain in the Pacific Northwest, move to NMI’s Midwest headquarters, or find a home in another city.

Tacoma and Pierce County deal-makers formed a group of city, county, and state leaders known as the “Tacoma Partnership” to court Russell with financial perks. In April 2008, the Partnership, headed up largely by the Pierce County Economic Development Board, met with Russell executives to make its pitch, which includes $144 million in benefits — $65 million from the city; $25 million from the federal government; and $54 million from the state. Similarly, in June 2008, Tacoma City Council approved an ordinance that created an International Financial Services Area in a swath of downtown that included Russell’s headquarters.

On Sept. 9, 2009, however, the company announced it would move to Seattle by the end of this year.

“After a thorough search and analysis of multiple sites in the Puget Sound region, we came to the clear conclusion that this is the right decision to best serve the long-term interests of our business, both from an economic and qualitative standpoint, and particularly given the unique conditions of the commercial real estate market in Seattle,” said Russell Investments President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Doman.

Doman added that Russell will consolidate all of its Puget Sound associates into its new headquarters location. “The move will also provide the company “with access to a large talent pool and will place Russell in the center of a major Pacific Rim city, alongside other like-minded global firms and business pioneers,” said Dorman.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Russell Investments to Downtown Seattle,” said Downtown Seattle Association President Kate Joncas.

Russell Investments headquarters building in downtown Tacoma. (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)