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MeetingSource.com has released its 2018 list of best convention cities in the country, and Tacoma has taken the top spot for conventions of up to 1,000 attendees. The report compared 163 cities throughout the United States, based on six factors that are affordability, ease of access, safety, walkability, promotional appeal and weather.

Tacoma ranked fourth in the 2017 report, which did not include weather as a factor, and the Pacific Northwest’s mild climate and ideal summers helped boost Tacoma to the top of the list for 2018.

“We had quite a few cities enter the ranking for the first time since weather was added as a key factor in convention site selection,” said John Horchner, the study’s author. “Taking this additional factor into consideration, Tacoma rose a notch to take the top spot on our list for smaller conventions. All of its numbers remained relatively high.”

Tacoma’s compact, walkable downtown core, proximity to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and outstanding hotel values all contributed to the city’s extraordinary high ranking two years in a row. Six major museums and a free-to-ride light rail system within walking distance of the Greater Tacoma Convention Center contributed to a high score for promotional appeal, which includes factors attendees use when deciding whether to attend a meeting or convention.

“Tacoma is fortunate to have the stunning waterfront, cultural attractions, convenience and affordability that create an authentic, unfiltered Northwest experience for meeting planners and attendees,” said Bennish Brown, president and CEO for Travel Tacoma + Pierce County. “It seems fitting that our mild Pacific Northwest weather and picture-perfect summers put us at the very top. The feedback from those who have planned or attended meetings in Tacoma and Pierce County is being heard on a bigger stage, and we’re honored to receive this recognition.”

“We are excited to learn that Tacoma’s first-rate amenities and genuine hospitality sets the standard for convention destinations nationally,” stated Kim Bedier, City of Tacoma’s director for Tacoma Venues & Events. “This recognition is testament to our teams at Travel Tacoma + Pierce County and the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, alongside all the thriving creative and entrepreneurial businesses throughout Tacoma. We look forward to continued growth with the construction of the Convention Center hotel.”

The Greater Tacoma Convention Center hosts an average of 220 events annually with more than 125,000 attendees. More than 19,000 room nights are confirmed through 2022, for an estimated $25 million in economic impact over the next five years. The construction of a four-star, 300-room Convention Center hotel under the Marriott brand is underway now with completion anticipated in 2020.

MeetingSource.com is a resource for meeting and event planners to find and compare convention destinations. Launched in 1996, MeetingSource.com was one of the first meeting and convention site selection directories on the Internet.

Travel Tacoma + Pierce County is the official destination marketing organization for Tacoma and Pierce County, Washington. Accredited by Destinations International. For more information, visit www.TravelTacoma.com.


Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has identified new cases of norovirus, bringing the total number from the outbreak at two El Toro Restaurants to 434. The Tacoma location, 5716 N. 26th St., has 423 cases. The restaurant in University Place, 3820 Bridgeport Way W., has 11. Both restaurants closed for a thorough cleaning and sanitizing, a Health Department requirement for outbreaks like this. Reports from people who say they got sick after dining at the restaurants have slowed down.

“Norovirus is highly contagious and is more common in cold weather months,” said Katie Lott, food and community safety program manager. “The best thing people can do to protect themselves and keep the virus from spreading is wash their hands frequently and stay home when they’re sick,” she said.

The outbreak started at the restaurant in Tacoma’s Westgate neighborhood. The Health Department closed the restaurant Jan. 8 after receiving the first reports of illness. The Department worked with the restaurant to ensure it was thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before it reopened Jan. 9. On Jan. 11, the Department received confirmation from the state’s Public Health Laboratories that a customer who ate at the Tacoma restaurant during the onset period tested positive for norovirus.

On Jan. 10, the Health Department received illness reports from diners who ate at the El Toro Restaurant in University Place. The restaurant followed the same protocol and closed for cleaning and sanitizing. It reopened on Jan. 11.

Two staff members at the Tacoma location worked while ill during the time customers dined and later got sick. It’s still unclear if the outbreaks at the two locations are connected.

“Because of the nature of norovirus outbreaks, we may never know the exact affected items that caused illness,” Lott said. “All the cases have dining at the El Toro Restaurants in common,” she said.

Learn more about norovirus at tpchd.org/norovirus.



The World Trade Center Tacoma (WTCTA) announces Connie Bacon as the 2018 Trade Visionary Award recipient.

Bacon, who served as Port of Tacoma Commissioner for 20 years as well as executive director of the World Trade Center Tacoma, transformed the local trade climate by promoting Tacoma as a premier trade hub and forming strategic international relationships. One of the more important of these connections being with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom Bacon executed the Tacoma-Fuzhou Sister City Agreement in 1994.

Through her leadership and vision, the Tacoma Fuzhou Trade Project (renamed the China Trade and Investment Program), a Port of Tacoma and City of Tacoma initiative, capitalized on the relationships built during a 14-year Sister City relationship that resulted in substantial foreign investments in Tacoma, including the Marriott Convention Center Hotel.

“Connie Bacon has truly been a visionary regarding world trade. Her support for the World Trade Center Tacoma has been unflinching and has set the stage for the future success of this organization,” said Dale King, WTCTA chair.

Bacon will be presented with the Trade Visionary Award at the 24th Annual Globe Awards on Monday, Feb. 12 at the Foss Seaport Museum.

For more information about the Globe Awards, or to purchase tickets visit https://tinyurl.com/2018GlobeAwards.



The Alliance for South Sound Health has announced that Maureen Womack has been hired as chief executive officer and president of the Behavioral Health Hospital now under construction in Tacoma. The Alliance is a joint entity forged between the region’s two largest nonprofit health systems, CHI Franciscan Health and MultiCare Health System, to alleviate the critical shortage of behavioral health inpatient care in Pierce County. Together they will open and operate a dedicated, 120-bed adult Behavioral Health Hospital at South 19th Street and South Union Avenue. Womack joined the Alliance and began her new role on Jan. 15. The Alliance anticipates the hospital will open for patient care in early January 2019.

Womack brings 20-plus years of executive leadership in the field of behavioral health. She relocates from Arizona, where she served as CEO and oversaw the startup of psychiatric hospital Cornerstone Behavioral Health-El Dorado in Tucson. Her experience includes serving as executive director of Johnson County Mental Health Center in Johnson County, Kansas; Merit Health River Region in Vicksburg, Mississippi (interim), managing a 104-bed psychiatric hospital; and the Norfolk Community Services Board in Norfolk, Virginia; with oversight of the community’s full continuum of services for mental health, substance use disorders and developmental disabilities. Womack also served a decade as president and CEO of Davis Behavioral Health Inc., a nonprofit community mental health and substance abuse center in Davis County, Utah.

“Increasing access to behavioral health services in our region is an important part of improving the health of our communities. I’m excited that we’ll have someone of Maureen Womack’s caliber to help us bring this to fruition,” said Bill Robertson, CEO of MultiCare Health System.

“We are confident that Womack’s experience and leadership will ensure the highest quality care and support are provided to our most vulnerable populations and families,” said Ketul J. Patel, CEO of CHI Franciscan Health. “Our new Behavioral Health Hospital is just one step in our journey to improve the health and wellness of our region and state.”

Womack’s educational background includes a master’s degree in psychology and dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from the University of South Alabama.



Grubhub, the nation’s leading online and mobile food-ordering company, has announced an expansion of its delivery capabilities to Tacoma.

Grubhub has been connecting diners with Tacoma restaurants that supply their own drivers since 2011. With this expansion, all of Tacoma’s booming food scene has the opportunity to leverage Grubhub’s large and growing network of drivers, expand their customer base and grow order volume. This also means better restaurant choice and variety for Grubhub diners, as more restaurants offer their menus for delivery.

“We’re proud to give diners more restaurant choices than ever before, from their favorite restaurants across the City of Destiny,” said Carolyn Edwards, Tacoma general manager, Grubhub. “We’re thrilled to deepen our partnerships with local Tacoma restaurants by offering Grubhub’s delivery capabilities. Now, restaurant partners can leave the last mile of delivery to Grubhub and focus on making the gourmet, local food that Tacoma residents crave.”

Diners can now order from a wide range of Tacoma favorites on Grubhub including:

  • BJ’s Restaurants & Brewhouse
  • Doyle’s Public House
  • Engine House No. 9
  • Miyabi Tacoma
  • Moctezuma’s Mexican Restaurant
  • Poke Pop
  • Red Robin
  • Rosewood Cafe
  • Shake Shake Shake
  • Southern Kitchen

“As Grubhub Delivery continues to expand across the country, we could not be more excited to bring our capabilities to the beautiful city of Tacoma,” said Stan Chia, chief operating officer, Grubhub. “We’re now able to provide a wider selection of the city’s ever-growing restaurant scene for diners to enjoy – rain or shine.”

To find takeout restaurants available in your area, check out grubhub.com. If you are interested in becoming part of the Grubhub Delivery team, please visit driver.grubhub.com. To find out how your restaurant can join Grubhub, check out get.grubhub.com. To learn more about Grubhub and its portfolio of brands, please visit newsroom.grubhub.com.



After a rigorous search process, Annie Wright Schools have named an internal candidate, current Assistant Director of Lower School and Counselor Ann Dicks, to the position of director of Lower School, beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

Dicks, who has 20 years of experience working in schools, joined the Annie Wright faculty in 2010. With a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Emory University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington, she has a range of leadership, instructional and counseling experience in public and independent schools in the Seattle area, including the Bellevue School Districts.

“Ann Dicks has the ideal combination of high expectations and tremendous empathy,” said Head of Schools Christian Sullivan. “While we had a strong pool of candidates with excellent experience, Ann was far and away the most qualified and the best fit for our student-centered mission.”

Along with expertise in best practices for education, including the Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate, which guides the curriculum for Annie Wright’s preschool-fifth grade Lower School division, Dicks currently helps manage the day-to-day running of the Lower School and collaborates on scheduling, programming, hiring of faculty and more. In addition, Dicks is a certified school social worker with extensive training in social-emotional development. Her therapy experience has focused on childhood and family issues such as emotion management, self-esteem, bullying and grief.

“The Annie Wright community welcomed me professionally when we moved to Tacoma from Seattle seven years ago and gave me the space to grow the social-emotional program to best meet the needs of students,” said Dicks. “My own children have also flourished here with amazing teachers that have met their academic and social-emotional needs. As I move into the role of director of the Lower School next year, I hope to continue the great work that has come before me while bringing my own perspective and experience to the position.”

Current Director of Lower School Vicki Ball announced in September that she plans to relocate to Portland at the end of this academic year. Dicks will assume her new position in July.


Tacoma Community College joins Clover Park Technical College, Lower Columbia College, Renton Technical College, and Spokane Falls Community College as a recipient of the College Spark Guided Pathways Grant. The grant provides each college with $500,000, paid in $100,000 increments over five years.

The grant will support TCC’s efforts to implement the Guided Pathways model structure. This approach has been proven to simplify choices for community college students, so that student choose their programs early and take the right classes at the right time, improving completion and graduation rates.

The grant will allow the college to implement Guided Pathways, purchase technology to help with implementation, and access coaching and other resources.

“We’re especially pleased with this model’s potential to close the equity gap for student groups that have historically completed their programs at lower rates, including low-income students,” said Executive Vice President Tod Treat. “This is important work, and we’re excited to see it translate into increased student success.”

The SBCTC is partnering with College Spark Washington to encourage statewide adoption of the Guided Pathways Initiative.

College Spark Washington funds programs across the state to help students become college-ready and complete their degrees.


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