GSI PTAC Leader Retires

At the end of this month we say goodbye to a valued member of the GSI team. Leslie Miller has served as Manager of the Eastern Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for nearly five years. During her time here, Leslie logged tens of thousands of miles across our side of the state, conducting training workshops to educate folks on how to tap into the government contract market. Thousands of clients landed invaluable government contracts as a result of Leslie’s tireless efforts. We wish her well as she heads on to her next chapter. Jessica Kirk, who previously served in GSI’s Continue reading

Vision 2030 Meets Face-to-Face with Legislative Leaders

The legislature is currently in the midst of its first special session to craft an operating budget, capital budget and transportation budget. Representatives of GSI’s Board-led Vision 2030 met with key legislative leaders, budget writers and Governor Jay Inslee at the State Capitol last week to push for adequate funding to support the development of WSU‘s new medical school and the expansion of UW‘s medical school in Spokane. Vision 2030 is working to advance the community’s long-term vision of growing our regional economy through medical education, research and bioscience industry growth. Vision 2030 Chair Jeff Philipps, President and CEO of Rosauers Continue reading

BizStreet: Your Road to Better Business

Small businesses account for more than 75% of GSI’s general membership, and the bulk of the greater-Spokane region’s economy. In other words, around here, small business is a big deal! Last week more than 130 small business owners and supporters joined us at Barrister Winery for GSI’s annual Small Business Appreciation Reception, and the launch of our new and improved BizStreet Small Business program. People in attendance enjoyed fun music, good food, great wine and an awesome opportunity to connect with other small business enthusiasts. The crowd heard from GSI’s Board Chair and US Bank Regional President Linda Elkin; Manny Continue reading

GSI Part of Earned Safe and Sick Leave Stakeholder Group

Does the City of Spokane need an Earned Safe and Sick Leave ordinance that will mandate all City of Spokane businesses to provide paid sick leave? That is a question that the Earned Safe and Sick Leave Stakeholder group is working to answer, and GSI has a seat at the table. The stakeholder group has met twice, with a possible two meetings remaining. This task force is comprised of multiple voices, all dedicated to determining what is best for our community. The Earned Safe and Sick Leave policy will address illness and domestic violence issues that some employees may encounter. Continue reading

GSI Believes That Education Grows Economies

GSI’s Education and Workforce program strives to position the region for economic expansion by establishing a highly educated and technically skilled workforce that will accommodate the needs of employers, now and into the future. As the backbone of the Spokane STEM Network, GSI is part of a collaborative effort of early learning, K-12, higher education, business and community organizations that support the goal of increasing the number of students pursuing and achieving success in STEM competencies for future careers. Creating intentional partnerships helps us to promote career awareness in relation to workforce needs, while providing a foundation that ensures growth Continue reading

GSI Members Share Good News!

Pitney Bowes Unveils New Inside Sales Center of Excellence Pitney Bowes Inc, a global technology company that provides innovative products and solutions that power commerce, unveiled its new Center of Excellence for Inside Sales in Spokane last month. The global technology company recently centralized its inside sales operations for the US in Spokane and has hired more than 200 local employees in the last year. A mainstay in the Spokane business community for more than two decades, Pitney Bowes has engaged in a three-phase renovation project to enhance its workplace to better accommodate this new Center of Excellence and help Continue reading

Business Barometer: Q4 2014 Closing Thoughts

Steve Scranton: The economy is going to be heavily influenced by oil prices and the strength of the dollar. For the agricultural sector, energy makes up 30 to 40% of their costs and the lower gas prices have had a strong positive affect. Conversely, agriculture in this area depends on exports, which could be hurt by exchange rates unfavorable to other countries. Shaun Higgins: The strong dollar has reduced incentives for Canadians and other international travelers to visit the US, which particularly affects communities near the Canadian border, such as Spokane. With American dollars currently worth 30 to 45 percent more Continue reading

Inflation Rate Remains Low; Interest Rate Hike Expected

Year-to-year, the CPI rose from 1.14% in 2013 to 1.32% in 2014. The CPI for fourth quarter went steeply in the opposite direction, from 1.42% to 0.65%, primarily due to the dramatic decrease in gas prices. “It’s very positive that we are seeing good economic growth while inflation numbers stay fairly benign,” says Grant Forsyth, Avista’s Chief Economist. Looking ahead, Washington Trust Bank’s Chief Investment Officer, Steve Scranton, does not expect inflation to rise appreciably in 2015, although he says medical premiums and food costs are expected to go up. Shaun O’L. Higgins, Managing Principal at The Oxalis Group, LLC, concurs. Continue reading

Permit Numbers and Valuations Go in Opposite Directions

Permit numbers for the entire county were up nearly 11% for fourth quarter and 9% year-to-year. Valuations, however, were down 60% for fourth quarter and nearly 40% year-to-year. Shaun O’L. Higgins, Managing Principal at The Oxalis Group, LLC, points out, “No one expected fourth quarter 2014 valuations to match 2013, which was unusually strong, particularly in the City of Spokane. The magnitude of the drop — from approximately $239 million to just over $52 million — looks alarming at first glance. However, it is not of major concern when compared to the 2012 number of about $55 million, the 2011 number of about Continue reading

Employment Growth Noticeably Better

Spokane County added 2,100 jobs in 2014, and unemployment fell from 7.9% in 2013 to 6.8% in 2014. “As long as you don’t compare us to the state number, which is heavily dominated by the growth in Puget Sound,” says Steve Scranton, CIO at Washington Trust Bank, “our employment growth looks pretty good. Our job numbers, year-to-year, grew by 1.1%, compared to the US growth of 0.3%.” He adds, “I know our job creation rate has been frustrating  (about 1% per year for several years) but a very steady growth pattern builds a very strong foundation.” “There has now been Continue reading