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NDC and Tacoma, WA: Partners for 30 Years and Going Strong
The National Development Council began its technical assistance relationship with the City of Tacoma nearly 30 years ago. At that time, like many of the nation’s older urban areas, Tacoma was experiencing a progressive decline in its manufacturing economy, leaving in its wake an underutilized blue-collar work force and a significant decline in the City’s downtown that was marked by increasingly broad tracts of vacant land and buildings, including a once-thriving urban retail mall. This blight spread to Tacoma’s residential areas, adding a lack of safe and sanitary housing to the City’s economic problems.
The City of Tacoma brought on NDC to help reverse Tacoma’s downward spiral. Originally acting as a second set of eyes in evaluating business and housing investments and providing hands-on assistance with more complicated deal structures, NDC’s partnership with the City has expanded to include small business lending, strategic planning and project financing.
In the early 1990s, Tacoma adopted a comprehensive downtown revitalization plan and asked NDC to provide assistance in carrying it out. NDC responded and since that time has structured complicated financing that more effectively utilizes public funds, provided on-call advice on development issues, explored development options to both reduce blight and provide income for the City, secured HUD Section 108 loans, and EDA, BEDI and UDGA grants to facilitate and finance essential development projects, and created the Grow Tacoma Fund, a small business revolving loan fund.
The success of the plan has led to the City’s economic resurgence. Tacoma’s reputation as a distressed pulp and paper community is receding into history and the City is now a vibrant urban center.