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Tacoma, Mr. Mac
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Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce is planning a trade mission to Tacoma

Port of Tacoma. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

It’s not exactly as historic or high profile as Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, but in September a trade delegation from Seattle’s Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce will be making its way to Tacoma.

The two-day study mission is part of an effort to strengthen the partnership between the two cities, exploring common areas of interest, such as balancing growth, historic preservation, transit, and the homeless crisis. It’s being led by the Chamber’s President and former Mayor of Tacoma, Marilyn Strickland.

Tacoma had over 10,000 individuals moving there in the last eight years and more than $1 billion being invested in the downtown infrastructure, according to the Chamber. Strickland says acting together as a region can attract out-of-state businesses and solve problems that cross borders.

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“Every year, the Seattle Metro Chamber does three trips: We do an international leadership mission, we do a study mission to another city or metropolitan region within the United States, and then we do one within Washington state,” Strickland told KIRO Radio. “This year, we’ve decided to go to Tacoma and the South Sound. And one of the things that we really want to do as an organization is to try to bring the region together and demonstrate regional leadership.”

Last year, the team visited Bothell, Redmond, Bellevue, and Renton. Strickland says even though these cities are in close proximity to Seattle, it can sometimes feel like there is an artificial border where there could be more teamwork between the city municipalities.

“When you look at a map of the Pacific Northwest if you’re looking at a national map, people are not parsing out borders between Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Everett, etc. It is one metro region,” she said. “The way we have municipalities set up, the way we have a government entities set up, we don’t necessarily create a system that is meant to cooperate regionally.”

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“So how do we find things we have in common? How do we reach out and figure out what we can learn from each other?”

How Tacoma and Seattle residents perceive each other

As mayor, she couldn’t help but notice some slight tension between the two cities in terms of how they perceive each other, not that this trade delegation will change that anytime soon, though it could help a little.

“I’m the former Mayor of Tacoma and one of the things that I’ve kind of noticed — and this is a broad generalization — but it feels as though people in Tacoma and the South Sound kind of are afraid of Seattle. And conversely people in Seattle look down on Tacoma and the South Sound,” she said.

“Both cities have a lot of assets and a lot of challenges and things that they share in common, and so let’s get together with the leaders from business, civic, and education and talk about what we share in common and what we can learn from each other and how we can better work together.”

To learn more or buy tickets, head here.

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