Pierce County Listening Tours: Higher Education & Economic Development

The Lt. Governor spent Wednesday in Pierce County, visiting Tacoma, Lakewood, and Parkland, as part of his continued economic development and education tours throughout the state.

Lt. Governor meets with President Allan Belton and Provost Joanna Gregson, outside Pacific Lutheran University-operated 208 Garfield Café

The Lt. Governor has pledged to visit all 6 of Washington’s public baccalaureates, all 34 public community and technical colleges, and all 10 of the members of the state’s Independent Colleges, within the first 500 days of his administration. He is also meeting with economic development organizations and businesses all over the state to identify opportunities for growth and trade.

The Lt. Governor visited Bates Technical College, Clover Park Technical College, and Pacific Lutheran University, spending an hour at each campus for long-form discussions with faculty members. Faculty from Bates Technical College and Clover Park Technical College spoke to the Lt. Governor about their strategies for connecting students with workforce needs, and described challenges with improving student completion.

One of the problems the technical colleges encounter, faculty from Bates Technical College said, is that students often place jobs while in school – which can create an incentive for students to leave before completing credentials. Clover Park Technical College faculty emphasized their efforts to encourage students not just to complete certifications and associate degrees, but to continue on to pursue bachelor’s degrees. At Pacific Lutheran University, which serves a younger average student population than either Bates or Clover Park Technical Colleges, faculty described the need for different support structures to account for distinct parenting styles between their students.

Lt. Governor meets with faculty from Bates Technical College

Following the three campus visits, the Lt. Governor met with business leaders from the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, as well as the Northwest Seaport Alliance. Pierce County, with its manufacturing legacy, maritime industry, military influence, and higher education options, represents several unique opportunities for economic growth. The Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County noted that Tacoma has the capacity to grow as a new hub of business technology, and discussed strategies for drawing more investment to new tech startup companies. The Northwest Seaport Alliance identified opportunities for strengthening international trade, and emphasized the need to reinforce infrastructure at home.

The Lt. Governor will continue to travel throughout the state conducting listening tours with leaders of higher education and economic development. If your organization would like to reach out to the Lt. Governor’s office to arrange a meeting, or would like the Lt. Governor to participate in an upcoming event, please contact the Lt. Governor’s office here.

Lt. Governor meets with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County