The gloves are off in the bidding war between Tacoma and Seattle officials to be the home for Russell Investments, based in Tacoma since it was founded in 1936. Sixteen state legislators from in or around Tacoma sent a letter to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels with the message: Keep your hands off our money management firm.
Russell, which had $136 billion in assets under management as of March 31, is Tacoma's largest private for-profit employer, providing roughly 1,000 local jobs. Rumors have been buzzing about a potential move to Seattle since at least 2007, but the bidding war became official earlier this year when Russell solicited tax incentives from both cities.
The June 23 letter from state lawmakers in the Tacoma area admonished Mr. Nickels that “competition for Russell Investments represents misguided and cannibalistic public policy from a regional economic development perspective” and called on the mayor to reconsider the city's relocation proposal.
The mayor's office responded June 29 to the letter, saying the city is not using public funds or offering tax breaks to Russell to induce a move to Seattle. “We are not trying to compete with the comprehensive package of public incentives and tax breaks the City of Tacoma has offered; we are simply replying to Russell's requests for information,” the response states.
Asked for comment on the possible move, Russell spokeswoman Jennifer Tice e-mailed a news release from April noting that Russell President and CEO Andrew Doman has met with officials from Seattle and Tacoma and a final decision is expected by sometime in the third quarter. — Timothy Inklebarger