One of downtown Tacoma’s major employers, State Farm, will close its 1,400-person offices and shift about 600 jobs to DuPont, where it already has about 1,000 workers.
State Farm announced Thursday it will close its two Tacoma offices by the end of the year, potentially putting 800 out of work.
State Farm’s Tacoma operation employs about 1,400 people in total work. Of those, 600 jobs will be relocated to DuPont. About 250 jobs will be relocated to the company headquarters in Bloomington, Ill., and about 150 jobs will relocate to Phoenix, said State Farm spokesman Sevag Sarkissian.
“These employees may have the opportunity to apply for other positions in other State Farm locations,” said Sarkissian.
This means 400 workers won’t have jobs and another 400 might not also if they are not picked for the Phoenix and Bloomington positions.
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The company is leaving Tacoma, he said, to gain “efficiency through streamlining and improving processes, adapting to the changing needs of customers and optimizing available space in current facilities” among other factors.
About 1,000 people already work for State Farm in DuPont, Sarkissian said.
State Farm’s five-year lease on the Frank Russell building in downtown Tacoma expires Dec. 31, according to Bruce Kendall, head of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
“Those are good jobs and it’s going to be a huge blow to the economy, to the county,” said Denise Dyer, director for the Pierce County office of Economic Development. “I’m thrilled that 600 of them are going to be located to DuPont, but that leaves another 800 folks that will be looking for work.”
There is no immediate timetable for the reduction in Tacoma, other than to be completed by the end of the year.
Getting State Farm to Tacoma was not an easy task. When the news broke in April of 2013 of the expansion, even at that time State Farm told workers it would continue to use its DuPont facility.
State Farm’s claims center took residence in 300,000 square feet once occupied by Russell Investments, which left town in 2010 after three generations in Tacoma. The insurance company was set to occupy all of the former Russell headquarters at 909 A St., as well as four floors in the Columbia Bank Center at 1301 A St.
In recent years, the insurer was known for its rounds of mass hirings.
The State Farm news comes on the heels of health care giant DaVita’s gradual shift of 500 business unit employees from Tacoma to Federal Way by 2021.