In 1998, rather than wait for the telecommunications companies serving the area to install a high-speed fiber optic network throughout the community, the city of Tacoma and its utility company, Tacoma Power, took the initiative to wire an entire city with 635 miles of fiber optic and coaxial cable, making Tacoma "America's #1 Most Wired City". This, along with incentive programs, financial assistance, tax assistance and training programs, have encouraged many regional, national and international companies to expand or relocate to Tacoma. In the past five years, the household median income in our state has jumped by 20 percent. Much of that growth has been driven by technology.
The city is home to one of the country's fastest growing ports, ranking among the world's 25 largest container ports. It is strategically located and offers efficient connections to sea, rail, highway and air transportation networks. The Port of Tacoma enjoys strong international trade ties with Pacific Rim nations and countries around the world. Tacoma is home to the Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art, located not far from the University of Washington Tacoma Campus. The downtown area is undergoing a massive transformation, with a light-rail system, new museums, shopping and a number of new fine dining opportunities, and is fast becoming one of the great cities of the western United States. Prices nationwide have slipped, but the Urban Land Institute recently wrote that our area is expected to stay above national averages. Seattle was ranked their number one real estate market area.
Gig Harbor, with a population of about 6,500, is separated from Tacoma by two of the world's largest suspension bridges, over The Tacoma Narrows. Gig Harbor, named after the small boat, or "gig", used by early explorers to the area, holds as its center piece a quaint harbor lined with shopping, dining, boating and other recreational activities. Gig Harbor is a highly sought-after place to live for its stunning natural beauty and small town feel. Many of its inhabitants cross the Narrows to work in Tacoma.