Tacoma, Washington is a mid-sized port city located along the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound, just 34 miles south of Seattle.
Military and industrial jobs have been at the forefront of Tacoma’s economy for the past 100 years. Paper manufacturing and copper smelting historically provided employment for blue-collar workers, but in recent years these industrial jobs have faded from the economic landscape, making way for a growing number of jobs with local public schools and health care systems.
Tacoma grapples with multiple challenges to health and well-being, including residents who have not benefited from the relatively stable job market, unsafe neighborhoods, environmental pollution, and insufficient capacity to meet its citizens’ mental health needs. At the same time, the city must contend with lead and arsenic that is leaking into the environment from defunct smelting operations. Despite these challenges, Tacoma has a history of cross-sector collaborations and civic engagement that provides hope for a brighter future.