Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce describes the Frederickson Industrial Area as the major aggregation of industrial land within Pierce County.
In all, nearly 2,900 acres have been developed or are available for future growth. According to the Puget Sound Regional Council, nearly a third of the region’s net supply for future industrial sites is at Frederickson.
The current industrial base creates property taxes in excess of $6 million and employment of over 2,000.
An unincorporated area, Frederickson lies between two would-be cities. To the west are Parkland and Spanaway, which may become the City of Gateway. To the east is South Hill outside the Puyallup city limits, whose voters defeated the first effort to create the City of Southview in 1998.
Frederickson’s industrial parcels were partially included in Southview’s incorporation proposal but were removed by dictate of the Boundary Review Board, a county agency. Industrial and residential lands in Frederickson also have been excluded from the proposed boundaries of Gateway.
A significant obstacle to further development at Frederickson is its relatively poor access.
A proposed highway from Lakewood to Frederickson could solve this transportation problem. It would go from Interstate 5, across the military bases, through Spanaway and on to Frederickson.
“Improvements such as the Cross-Base Highway,” the Puget Sound Regional Council observes, “would greatly improve accessibility for Frederickson, as well as other nearby industrial areas in Pierce County.”
To continue to grow and function optimally, Frederickson needs the Cross-Base connection, planned improvements to Canyon Road between SR-512 and 200th St., and enhanced rail service.
A dominating presence
The Boeing Co. manufactures wing skins, horizontal stabilizers and vertical fins for airplanes at its Frederickson plant.
When Boeing arrived in 1991, there were expectations the company would eventually employ over 10,000 people at this facility. Boeing’s merger with McDonnell Douglas changed all this. The merger created a company surplus of manufacturing space and workers.
“It had an effect on the whole division,” says Ed McGinn, manager of communications for the Frederickson plant.
Boeing just announced it will shut down a fabrication plant in St. Louis.. This sparked rumors in Washington. McGinn denies the same will happen here. “I have no knowledge of Boeing pulling out of Frederickson,” he says.
McGinn concedes that Boeing has an Asset Utilization Team that is reviewing the entire company. This team is looking at ways to streamline the company’s operations. He says this team will issue a report within 60 days.
Power to the people
Tenaska Power Partners and Bonneville Power Administration began a power plant at Frederickson in 1994. The deal fell apart, and the half-completed plant has gathered dust for five years.
BPA ended up with the plant, which is up for sale. Frederickson Power, a joint venture involving Edmonton Epcor and West Coast Power, is negotiating to buy it.
“We are confident things will proceed according to plan,” says Harvie Campbell, general manager of project development for West Coast Power.
It will generate power through a combined cycle process of steam and gas turbines. Whoever buys and completes the plant will likely sell power to area utility companies.
“There will be a fair amount of re-engineering before it is done,” Campbell notes.
Pasta for Japan
Medallion Foods Inc. makes quality pasta products from durum semolina at its Frederickson plant. It opened the 77,000-square-foot building in 1998 and currently employs 68 people, most in production.
Nisshin Flour Milling, a Japanese company, owns Medallion Foods. Most of the pasta made in Frederickson is sold in Japan under the brand name Mama. Some is sold to food service and food processing plants in the Northwest under the Medallion label.
The company is looking to expand its presence in the Northwest.
“We will continue to develop our domestic customers,”says Kelly Caskey, human resources and general administration manager.
The forest for the trees
Among the newest major developments is a new rail service for Spanaway Lumber Co. An agreement with Tacoma Rail, a division of Tacoma Public Utilities, has Spanaway Lumber moving wood products on the Mountain Division track to the Port of Tacoma.
A new loading facility in Frederickson took 10 weeks to build at a cost of $390,000 paid by the City of Tacoma. the utility purchased the track and right-of-way from Weyerhaeuser in 1995.
TreeSource Industries, parent company of Spanaway Lumber, signed a take-or-pay contract to guarantee return of the city’s original investment. Expected revenues are $360,000 in the first year and $444,000 in the second year.
Spanaway Lumber is the first large-volume customer for the Mountain Division, with shipments of 75 rail cars per month. Moving products by rail eliminates 200 local truck trips per month. Tacoma Rail service will help the company move products to markets in California and on the East Coast.
When the Mountain Division line to Morton opens late this year, Spanaway Lumber will be able to move logs in to Frederickson as well as moving products out, for further savings and operating efficiencies.
By John Larson, Business Examiner staff