Plant Tech Seeds, Reap the 'Blow Up'

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A magazine profile of the Institute of Technology sheds light on why downtown Tacoma is one of 12 neighborhoods across the U.S. about to "blow up."

Two recent stories about UW Tacoma and the Greater Tacoma region illustrate the very real cause-and-effect possibilities a university brings to a community.

Tech in Tacoma: City tries to attract and retain talent,” South Sound Magazine, December 2015

Author Owen Macleod profiles UW Tacoma’s Institute of Technology, described as the “driving force” behind efforts to put Tacoma on the map as a tech hub.

  • When the computing & software systems degree program was launched at UW Tacoma in 1999, there were 50 students.
  • Today there are 750 undergraduate and graduate students in five degree programs and two centers of research.
  • The Industry Partnerships Program matches Institute students with local business and community professionals, where the students help develop solutions to real-world programming challenges.
  • Major companies such as Google, Microsoft, Boeing and Facebook are recruiting Institute students.
  • Regional leaders are trying to attract companies to greater Tacoma to take advantage of the pipeline of talented students graduating from UW Tacoma.

The impact of UW Tacoma is a factor in the presence of downtown Tacoma on Thrillist, the “massive online machine designed to stoke the consumerist impulses of young guys across the country” (as described by Wired).

12 Neighborhoods Across America That Are About to Blow Up,” Thrillist, via Huffington Post, December 23, 2015

Downtown Tacoma is included on a list of “cool, mildly affordable neighborhoods just waiting to be overtaken by young creatives,” “the next hotspots,” “neighborhoods that are affordable now, but poised to blow up.”

“Long known to its neighbors up the road as ‘that place that smells like a pulp mill,’ Tacoma is finally stepping into its own as a legitimate alternative to traffic-choked and expensive Seattle. … With a University of Washington branch campus… Tacoma may soon be the Oakland of the North.”

The Oakland of the North? Didn’t the New York Times call Seattle that in 2014? If that’s like being the Brooklyn of New York, the so-called “hot” borough, we’ll take it!

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / January 19, 2016
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or