The Biz Buzz

Get the most up-to-date news, insights and analysis of Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound business.

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Archives: Sep. 2008

Sep.
30th

St. Joseph also receives consumer choice award

Turns out not one, but two Tacoma hospitals received awards this week.


A news release came in today that St. Joseph Medical Center joins Tacoma General Hospital as winners of the National Research Corporation Consumer Choice Award. The two hospitals were voted the health care center where area consumers would like to be treated. The awards were published in the recent edition of the trade publication Modern Healthcare.


“The Consumer Choice Award is another testament to our hospital’s success at meeting the needs of patients and families,” said Joe Wilczek, president and CEO of the Franciscan Health

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Sep.
30th

It’s scam season, and there are ways to protect yourself

The state Department of Financial Institutions is out today with a warning against scams – what with turmoil in investment markets typically heralding the beginning of scam season.

There’s been turmoil, so be on the lookout for con artists, hucksters, offers too-good-to-be-true and people offering advice that will separate you from your money.

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Sep.
30th

Washington’s minimum wage increasing to $8.55 per hour

The state’s minimum wage is going up.


On Jan. 1, the hourly rate will increase 48 cents to $8.55, according to a release today by the Department of Labor and Industries. The annual reassessment of the wage is mandated by a decade-old voter initiative.


L&I annually reevaluates the wage based on changes to the Consumer Price Index as prepared by the U.S. Department of Labor. For more information on how the wage is calculated, click here.


The CPI increased 5.9 percent during the 12 months ending in August, compared to a 1.8 percent increase during the

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Sep.
30th

Tacoma’s historic brewery block gets high-tech headquarters

The sign went up today at 2516 Holgate St., on the new Tacoma corporate headquarters for Rainier Connect, a multiservice telecommunications company. The company started in 1910 in Eatonville as a local phone company. Now it employs more than 60 people. (Photo by Dan Voelpel)


A former Eatonville telephone company that started in 1910 and has since grown into a multiservice telecommunications company will move into its new Tacoma corporate headquarters in three weeks.


Rainier Connect, which employs more than 60 people, has spent since last December refurbishing a historic, four-story brick

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Sep.
29th

Calling all readers – So how are you handling all the economic news of the past few weeks?

In times such as these – with the markets upset, credit tight and worry common – we’d like to turn to readers for their perspective.


The News Tribune business team is preparing a story for this weekend, and we’d like to speak with readers. We will be interviewing the necessary officials and experts, but we’d like to know how Monday’s market meltdown, and the events of the past few weeks, have affected you.


We’d like to speak with consumers and the owner of small a business, a financial adviser and a losing shareholder, a retailer, a young investor,

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Sep.
29th

Hotel occupancy rates down in July in Tacoma while the average price of a room increases

Along with all but two of nine regions in the state, the occupancy rate of Tacoma-area hotels fell in July. Statewide, occupancy was down 1.1 percent, according to Bellevue hospitality consultant Wolfgang Rood. In Pierce County, occupancy was down 2.8 percent over the same month last year.


In July in Pierce County, 80.3 percent of rooms were occupied. In downtown Seattle, 89.8 percent of rooms were taken.


The only regions seeing an increase were downtown Seattle, up 3.5 percent, and the Tri-Cities, up 0.7 percent. Snohomish County marked the greatest decline, down 8.6 percent.


All regions recorded

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Sep.
29th

WaMu may leave empty offices in Seattle

The failure of Washington Mutual may mean for empty offices in Seattle. So far, there’s no word on what will happen to jobs at the Seattle headquarters and around the Puget Sound area but mergers typically mean job cuts.

Bloomberg News reports that the office vacancy rate is rising in Seattle for the first time in four years.

"Clearly, it won’t be good," Matt Griffin, managing partner of Pine Street Group LLC, the Seattle-based developer of Washington Mutual’s 42-story headquarters, completed in 2006, said to Bloomberg News. "The question is: How many jobs will they decide to put on the market?"

Joseph Evangelisti, a spokesman for JPMorgan, said it’s too early to comment about job losses at WaMu.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Sept. 25 acquired Washington Mutual’s assets for $1.9 billion after the U.S. government seized the thrift in the largest bank failure in the country’s history.

Washington Mutual owns about 1.2 million square feet at its headquarters and leases another roughly 600,000 square feet in Seattle, said Stuart Williams, a principal at commercial brokerage Pacific Real Estate Partners Inc. The bank already has sublet or offered for sublease some of that 600,000 square feet, he said to Bloomberg.

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Sep.
29th

Tacoma commuting fair set for Tollefson Plaza on Wednesday

Lonely though it might otherwise seem, Tollefson Plaza might just be teeming on Wednesday (from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) as would-be and already-do downtown Tacoma commuters gather to celebrate the beginning of a new campaign.



The “Downtown: On the go! Reinvent your commute!” effort

is a collaboration between the City of Tacoma, Pierce Transit, Pierce County and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.


The goal of the campaign is to reduce traffic congestion by getting downtown workers, students and residents "onto buses and vanpools, out walking, and bike riding,

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