Five years after its arrival in the City of Destiny, insurance giant State Farm has announced that it is leaving its two Tacoma offices by the end of the year.

“We plan to fully exit the two Tacoma Operations Centers by end of 2018,” said a statement from Illinois-based State Farm. “Approximately 1,400 employees are currently assigned to the Tacoma Operations Centers. These employees may have the opportunity to apply for other positions in other State Farm locations.”

About 600 of those workers will relocate to the company’s office in DuPont, which will remain operational, said State Farm media relations associate Sevag Sarkissian. That facility already has approximately 1,000 employees.

“A majority of the work,” the statement added, “will move to our company headquarters in Bloomington, Ill., and to our Phoenix office.”

As to why the company decided to pull up stakes, State Farm’s statement said, “Our decision to exit these facilities was based on several factors such as gaining efficiency through streamlining and improving processes, adapting to the rapidly changing needs and expectations of our customers, leveraging technology, and optimizing available space in our current facilities.” 

Local economic officials like Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, and Tom Pierson, president and CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that they were not aware that the announcement was coming. 

“My heart goes out to the hundreds of families that just found out that they will be losing their job,” said Pierson. “In 2013, State Farm signed a five-year lease in downtown Tacoma at a time when the economy was still struggling from the impacts of the recession. Today, there is practically no Class A office space available in the downtown area.

“State Farm's help in the downturn has become a great opportunity. We know businesses looking to expand or locate to Tacoma, a city just recognized as a game-changing city 'on the verge of something great.'”

The move is obviously a big blow to Tacoma downtown employment; State Farm was third on the Economic Development Board's 2017 list of major employers, behind only MultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health. The company appeared ready to expand its operations in Pierce County as recently as last summer, when it held a hiring event for 100 positions in Tacoma and DuPont.