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Tacoma's loss, Seattle's gain: Russell Move Complete

Russell Investments
Part of Russell Investment's newly remodeled space in the former WaMu Tower in downtown Seattle. It's now the Russell Investment Center.

What was once the WaMu Tower is now the Russell Investment Center. The financial services company that was downtown Tacoma's largest employer has now formally opened its new headquarters in downtown Seattle.

Seattle's civic leaders turned out in full force to welcome the company famous for its stock market indexes. 900 well-paid employees now occupy five floors of the skyscraper at 2nd and Union, next door to the Seattle Art Museum.

"We are thrilled to have Russell stay in this region," said Greater Seattle Chamber Chair Maud Daudon. She remembers the nail-biting phase after Russell announced it was making a move away from Tacoma.

"Those were scary days...when we were reading, it could be London, it could be New York it could be San Francisco. But keeping you here really means a great deal to this economy and to the people of this region," said Daudon.

Russell's parent company, Wisconsin-based Northwestern Mutual, bought the 42-floor Tower last year in the wake of WaMu's demise. The price was $115 million dollars cash - about a third of what it cost to build it four years earlier. Northwestern Mutual has since recruited a handful of other tenants, including a biotech from Bothell and a Chicago-based bank. But as much as half the building is still vacant.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.