Looking Back at the 2014 State Legislative Session

At the outset of the 2014 Session, our state legislators faced a difficult situation at best. The 2012 McCleary v. State of Washington decision ruled that the State had not been meeting its constitutional obligation to education and mandated an increase in education standards by 2018. The only way to achieve this goal was by increasing funding for education-related operating costs to a level of education spending Washington State has never seen . At the same time, state tax revenue had not risen to pre-recession levels. The State of Washington operates on a two-year budget cycle beginning July 1 of Continue reading

Doing Business in the Spokane Region Means Access to Qualified and Talented Employees

Once upon a time, companies would consider location as the top reason to expand, relocate or open up their business. But nowadays, there seems to be a new no. 1 consideration: the available workforce. Three recent news stories – two from Ian Cull of KXLY and the other in the Spokane Journal of Business – featured companies that either announced expansions to the Spokane area, have already opened up offices here, or have been here a long time. All mentioned the area workforce as a major reason why the Spokane region was a great place for their business. KXLY: Aerospace Continue reading

A Q&A With Chris Reilly of Unleashed Online Media and the Chair of GSI’s Small Business Council

Chris Reilly of Unleashed Online Media recently began his term as the Chair of our Small Business Council, which works to foster a stronger environment for entrepreneurship, business growth and retention. We asked Chris a few questions about his small business, his goals for his term and what issue small businesses deal with on a day-to-day basis: GSI: As the Small Business Council Chair, what are your goals for the upcoming year? Chris Reilly: The Small Business Council represents an important voice in Greater Spokane Incorporated and the region at large. We help bring the issues and concerns that challenge small Continue reading

Why a Good Infrastructure is Important for Economic Development

As the state legislature nears the end of its supplemental session in Olympia, the likelihood of an agreed upon transportation package is slim (Edit: there’s no chance). There is still the possibility that the legislature will reconvene sometime this year in a special session to form a transportation package, though. But a recent report from a national transportation research group called TRIP showing deficient roads in our state are costing drivers money should be of interest to legislators across the state. The report – titled Washington State Transportation by the Numbers – estimates that the average Spokane driver loses about Continue reading

GSI Members Among Inland Business Catalyst’s Women in Business Leadership Awards

Inland Business Catalyst is out with its 2014 Women in Business Leadership Awards, and the list contains a number of GSI members: Pam Pyrc Associated Industries Carla Altepeter Numerica Credit Union Elizabeth Tellessen Winston & Cashatt, Lawyers PSC Sasha Jackowich Weiler Rockwood Health System Pamela Carlson-Hafner Haskins Steel Co., Inc. Ulrike Berzau St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute Marianne Guenther Bornhoft Windermere Manito Linda Thelma Finney Leadership Spokane Regina Malveaux YWCA of Spokane Kari Chapman House of Charity, Catholic Charities Spokane Congrats to all of those who were recognized!

What’s Happening in Olympia?

The legislative session is nearing its end in Olympia. Here are three things happening at the State Capitol that are of interest to us and the greater Spokane community: 1. The Future of a Port District in Spokane County On Tuesday, House Bill 2547 passed in the Senate 48-1 after passing 95-2 in the House. The bill allows for the creation of port districts comprising less than entire county areas. We’ve written about the possibility of a Port District in Spokane County before, but let’s rehash: a Port District is a special purpose district with an economic development and transportation Continue reading

Business AfterSchool Featured on KHQ’s Invest Northwest Program

Alisha Benson, our Vice President of Education and Workforce, sat down with KHQ’s Sean Owsley recently to talk about Business AfterSchool and Engineering Week: Spokane, North Idaho News

Students Learn About Career Opportunities During Engineering Week

We just completed Engineering Week as part of Business AfterSchool, a program designed to bring area students, parents and educators into companies to learn what it’s like to work there and what skills are needed. We’ve blogged about it before. Anyway, Engineering Week was a success! Here are the stats: More than 120 Spokane County students in grades 8-12, 22 parents and 27 educators participated over three days. Nine area companies and 80 professionals, plus Spokane County hosted students. Students came from eight districts and 28 schools, public and private. The companies that hosted students were: Avista Utilities CH2M HILL Continue reading

The Affordable Care Act:
Is Your Business Ready?

The White House delayed another mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this week. Businesses with 51-99 full-time employees (those that work at least 30 hours a week) now have an extra year to provide health coverage. The news of this delay came just days before our annual health care forum yesterday, where about 260 folks heard a panel of health and insurance industry representatives talk about what businesses should know when it comes to the ACA. Heidi Alessi of K&L Gates said the delay in requiring companies with 51-99 full-time employees to offer health insurance is good for businesses Continue reading

The Sights of Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum

Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum is this week at the Spokane Convention Center. The annual farm machinery show is the largest of its kind in the Inland Northwest. More than 250 exhibitors dominate the space at the Convention Center Exhibit Hall, showing off the region’s agriculture industry. Pacific Northwest Farm Forum also hosts seminars throughout the three-day show, including a weather forecast from Art Douglas. The show runs through Thursday, Feb. 6. Ticket information and show hours can be found at www.agshow.org. Now let’s take a look at the sights of Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Continue reading