In March 2008, Crosscut published a story in which I pointed to Tacoma-based Russell Investment's probable move to Seattle. As it turns out, Russell is moving to Seattle, as reported in the Seattle Times today, despite valiant efforts on the part of Tacoma leadership to keep the cash cow in town. It's a win for Seattle but will be a huge blow to the City of Destiny, and perhaps suggests a regional shortsightedness, as columnist Jon Talton argues.
Talton suggests that Russell's move comes as a result of its 1999 acquisition by Northwestern Mutual, pointing the finger of blame at out-of-towners. But to say that is to belie Russell's early rise to global prominence, well before Northwestern Mutual took an interest, as I wrote in 2008:It's this status as a global company that should make Tacoma nervous. The same year that George Russell sold J.C. Penney on the pension consulting concept, he opened a second office in New York. Ten years later, he opened a London office. Russell Investments now does business in 44 countries, with offices in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Johannesburg, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Toronto, San Francisco, and New York. Its world headquarters address seems modest in comparison. In 1988, instead of relocating to New York or building in Seattle, George Russell and his wife, Jane, designed a headquarters building themselves in their hometown, Tacoma. Of the pending relocation decision, George Russell, now chairman emeritus, says he has no say.
Another interesting aspect is: How many of Russell's 900 employees already live in Seattle? Russell folk wouldn't say last year and are probably less inclined to divulge that now.