State Farm move: For Tacoma, two steps forward, two and a quarter steps back

Credit: Bill Virgin, Tacoma News Tribune Contributor

To understand Tacoma’s latest economic-development setback, let’s time travel to this space about five years ago, when the city was celebrating – sort of – what appeared at the time to be an economic-development victory.

But for Tacoma, there’s always a feel of two steps forward, one and three-quarters steps back. And maybe it’s two and a quarter steps back, and the retreats often come before the advances. What the town gains feels like a make-up for some earlier loss (or one that’s sure to come, just to be really Eeyore-ish about it). Rarely does it seem as though there’s a succession of successes, one building on another.

The occasion that prompted that musing was the announcement that insurer State Farm would be taking over the former Russell Investments building, which had sat empty for the three years since that company moved its operations to Seattle.

Now State Farm plans to unwind its presence in downtown Tacoma. Of the 1,400 jobs the company has there, 600 will go to DuPont, 400 will go to operations in Illinois and Arizona — and the rest will go away entirely.