Courtesy of The White Center Chamber of Commerce
An early mock-up of a White Center visitor's website and business directory that has caused some controversy due to the tagline, "Kick it in Rat City," along with an image of a rat.

White Center Chamber to draw back “Rat City” references on website

Last month, the debate over whether White Center should embrace the term “Rat City” in marketing the area to potential visitors came to a boil as business owners packed the Salvadorian Bakery to speak their minds on both sides of the issue.

The debate began with the unveiling of an early mock-up of a White Center Chamber of Commerce website set to launch this summer called that currently includes the line, “Kick it in Rat City” and an artistic rendition of a rat.

The website is designed to promote local businesses in White Center with a free directory, pictures and a short biography for the hundreds of shops in the area, including those who are not Chamber members.

Some business owners, including Alan Homestead of Vision Source Eye Care and Optical, said they were not interested in becoming part of a website that celebrated the Rat City name.

At Mac’s Triangle Pub on July 17, Chamber of Commerce members gathered for an update from Mac McElroy, owner of the pub and Chamber member.

“I believe basically the way we are looking at it, and this isn’t carved in stone, but we are going to keep the Rat City moniker but without looking at it from the standpoint of the little rodent, but from the standpoint of how it was originally intended, which was as the (Army) Regional Area Training (facility),” from where the name originates, McElroy said.

He said the tagline “Kick it in Rat City” and the rat mascot will be removed in the final form, set to release a few weeks after Jubilee Days.

“I don’t necessarily know that our forward progress as a Chamber and as a community is predicated upon having a mascot or not having a mascot, and if we do have a mascot, whether it’s a rat.

“I think that representing our history accurately is hugely important,” he said. “I think that acknowledging the people that were here that initially established our community as White Center … in the late 50s, early 60s – that is hugely important.”

Exhibiting room for a multitude of branding approaches in the area, The Rat City Business Association (started by Justin Cline of Full Tilt Ice Cream and not affiliated with the Chamber) will continue to embrace the name and their mascot, Ratty.

“Some people call us White Center, but it doesn’t really matter since we don’t have a post office. Call us whatever you want. Annex us, even. It won’t change who we are: Rat City,” the RCBA website proclaims.

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