Some cities in region believe they’ll benefit from Seattle head tax fallout

TACOMA, Wash. -- A lot of other cities in Western Washington are looking at how Seattle’s head tax is going to affect them. Places like Renton and Tacoma think they stand to benefit.

The city of Tacoma has been booming with growth for some time, and now that Seattle passed a head tax on its biggest businesses, Tacoma Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Pierson says he’s already hearing from companies that want to call Tacoma home.

“To put the burden on the back of business is wrong. The passage of the head tax is the last straw that’s going to break the back of a lot of businesses,” said Pierson.

He says Tacoma is an attractive option because the city-permit process is faster, the cost of operating a business is cheaper and the quality of life is better.

“They’re making decisions on, do they need to be in Seattle, should they be in Tacoma, and down here we have a huge advantage,” said Pierson.

It’s not just Tacoma. Cities like Renton are already capitalizing on potential for big business.

“We have tons of interest here right now,” said Kip Spencer with Seco Development.

He adds they are marketing their waterfront access and building with a business-friendly approach.

“We try to be very conscious of what it costs for business to expand. The opportunity to possibly recruit a high-tech company here is pretty exciting,” Renton Mayor Denis Law said.

Tech is the focus all across the South Sound. Pierson says Tacoma has an established cyber-security hub that will only get bigger.

“I see that continuing to grow, as well as being connected to JBLM in the cyber sector, that’s a big piece. We also have a health care industry and manufacturing, too. We’re all one region but at the same time we want our local areas to be better,” said Pierson.

He adds that they are looking at issues of homelessness and affordable housing and using Seattle as the example of what not to become and having discussions with residents, city and county officials on how to tackle those problems.