The Port of Tacoma and futurism were in the spotlight at the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County’s 2019 annual meeting.

At the meeting, held Thursday at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, the Port of Tacoma was awarded the Golden Shovel Award for its contribution to the economy of Tacoma and Pierce County and in honor of its 100th anniversary.

Port Commissioner John McCarthy praised the port’s investment in the community and its ability to grow jobs and strengthen the tax base. The port’s real estate and marine cargo operations generate more than 29,000 jobs and nearly $3 billion in economic activity.

The keynote speaker for the event was less interested in the area’s current economy, however, than with its future. Futurist and economist Rebecca Ryan urged her audience to think of, and plan for, the future. She said the U.S. goes through seasons lasting every 82-100 years or so. The country is currently transitioning from the winter of the 2008 Great Recession to springtime, she said.

Spring, Ryan contends, is an opportunity for the older generation to ask itself the tough questions about what must be done to ensure subsequent generations inherit a springtime worth living in. She evoked Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said, “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”

In a country with a growing economy but also growing problems — such as homelessness — solutions must be found that leave the world a better place for the generations to come, she said. Solving those problems requires futurism, which people can tap into with the right mindset, the right network, and the right budget, she said.

If you think you have all the answers, you don’t have the right mindset; It’s best to keep an open mind, she argued. Likewise, people should network with those they disagree with, rather than those who think the same as they do. And when it comes to creating a budget, versatility is key; if an organization’s budget is the same as it was five years ago, it likely won’t be helpful for meeting today’s challenges.

She used Kodak as an example, arguing that the business developed digital technology in the 1970s, but failed because it refused to invest in a technology that threatened its existing film business.

The company, she said, “sacrificed their future trying to preserve their past.”

Also at the meeting, the economic development board announced the winners of its annual Excellent 10 awards, a list of “ten great economic development projects” in Pierce County completed between January and December of the previous year. The winners were:

  • 905 Main, Sumner
  • Aim Aerospace, Sumner
  • Carlson Paving Products, Frederickson
  • Lincoln District Streetscape Improvements, Tacoma
  • Pacific Seas Aquarium and Eastside Community Center, Metro Parks Tacoma
  • Pantages Theater Renovation, Tacoma
  • Tool Gauge, Tacoma
  • Super Post-Panamax Cranes, Tideflats
  • John W. Walstrum Center for Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Lakewood
  • Wellfound Behavioral Health Hospital, Tacoma