Archive for the ‘Economic Development’ Category
KXLY TV, Spokane’s ABC affiliate, has a “Made in the Northwest” feature it’s been running for a number of months. The series features manufacturers in the Spokane region.
This week, we partnered with a number of local groups to host “Building Business. Building Careers.” The event was a combined manufacturing expo and career fair that allowed area middle and high school students to explore various careers, and allowed manufacturers and suppliers to connect and grow their businesses.
This all fit perfectly into KXLY’s “Made in the Northwest” theme:
You can view photos from the two-day expo on the Greater Spokane Incorporated Facebook page.
Who do you call when you need to hear the voice of the business community? Answer: GSI.
Recently, we received a call from the Washington State Auditor office. It wanted to hear from Spokane area business owners about their experience with the permitting process in one of four focus groups it’s conducting around the state. Results of these focus groups are expected later this year.
Washington has approximately 1,400 permits, licenses and inspections managed by 26 agencies, not including federal and local municipalities (GSI continues to work on streamlining permitting on a local level). In this focus group, it was apparent that businesses have a unified voice on solutions to streamline permitting for all levels of government.
So what’s the solution? Businesses have consistently shared the following resolutions:
- Provide predictability (and ensure that the process won’t change mid-stream)
- All involved agencies need to be present at the beginning
- Implement a “champion,” or one point of contact
- Access to staff – shouldn’t have to wait a week or more for a response
- Performance-based management for state employees
- Accountability, giving consequences if the agency doesn’t meet the time frame
- Cost/benefit before regulations are put out, since too often state staff write the administration rules and legislators’ intent not followed through (especially with commissions)
- State agencies need to work more cohesively and accept each other’s data and research
- Communication from agencies ahead of time rather than after the fact
- Create a “Yes” culture
Sometimes it’s putting common sense back into the letter of the law. It shouldn’t have to cost $3,000 to, for example, dig a hole – believe it or not, it’s true in some cases. Businesses often hear from government staff that every situation is unique, but like a brain surgeon who figures out strategies to remove a tumor within weeks, it shouldn’t take six months to obtain a permit.
Businesses recognize there are some top-notch employees who work in permitting, providing exceptional customer service. Some noted that the Department of Revenue, Fish & Wildlife and the Liquor Control Board consistently had great people to get you through the process.
The end result is to increase business investment and job growth, which will ultimately benefit both business and government in saving time and money. We commend the State Auditor’s Office for taking the time to audit the process and make it easier for businesses to get to “Yes,” and we continue to applaud our region’s cities, Spokane County and various agencies for their efforts to make our region a great place to invest and grow business.
There’s a trend taking place– a local trend that continues to spark interest in communities across the globe. The trend is local food. We’re not just talking about community gardening and farmers markets, not that those don’t have their own merit and value, but the creation of a local food system – or a road map for area food-related businesses interested in growing their bottom line, while at the same time fostering our regional food economy – a true systems approach to the food sector.
This trend accompanies a growth in the clean technology sector – with growing pressures on the environment and energy resources, an increased interest in sustainability practices, and local, regional, and federal policy decisions that will need to unfold in order to tackle future food issues and feed a world population of 10 billion by 2050.
With all those concerns on the map and an increased interest in how our food gets on our plate, it’s no wonder food continues to be at the forefront of discussion.
Consider the economic impact –
- According to the USDA Ag Census, Spokane County has the second-highest number of farms in the state with 2,502. These farms employ more than 3,945 people and contribute $886 million annually to our local economy.
- Small farms – anything from a 4’ x 4’ garden up to 1000 acres (producing under $250,000 a year, which is USDA’s definition of a small farm) make up the majority of the 2,502 farms in the state.
- Spokane County has more than 626,329 acres of farm land.
- WA State ranks at the top in the nation in nine commodities, including apples, and produces 91 percent of the nation’s red raspberries.
- One event alone – the annual Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, has an annual economic impact of $4.8 million to our local economy (doesn’t include business done at the event), and attracts nearly 6,000 attendees from the Northwest and beyond.
With 2,502 farms in Spokane County, fostering our regional food economy not only contributes growth and economic sustainability in our region, but will also be important to address future food security, hunger and health issues. It also allows us to source local food to supply local restaurants, hospitals, universities, schools and hotels with regionally-produced food on a significant scale.
This local food conversation will continue with a Power of Our Regional Food Economy conference on April 19th at the Phase One Building at the Riverpoint Campus. Ken Meter will be the keynote speaker and has a national reputation for being a ground level expert for enhancing local food systems.
The future of food production, and where and how our food is produced is an economic, business, social, health and personal issue – and actions, plans and policies will continue to develop at all levels, and with more emphasis placed on local farming – playing a centralized role in order to grow our local agribusiness economic base, increase financial stability and improve food security for our future.
Visit our website for more information about Greater Spokane Incorporated’s role in agribusiness and learn more about our AgriBusiness Council and the annual Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.
Last Friday, nine fourth-year medical students (above) at WSU Spokane found out where they would be starting their residencies. Six of those nine students began their medical education studies in Spokane in 2009. It was a momentous day, as the students now know where the next stage of their education will take place.
Residencies – what medical students complete after four years of medical school, also known as graduate medical education – are something this region needs more of. With an aging population, there is a need for more doctors, especially in rural areas. That’s where the Academic Health Science Center comes in.
Spokane’s medical community transformation began in 2008 when the first class of medical students began at WSU Spokane through the WWAMI program. It continued when the big Biomedical and Health Sciences Building broke ground in late 2011 (the building will be complete this fall). It will progress again this fall when the first class of second-year students begins classes.
Now it’s time to grow residency slots.
Doctors tend to practice in the city where they completed their residency. Currently, Central and Eastern Washington have 100 residency slots, compared to 1,517 in Western Washington. There are obvious population discrepancies between Western Washington and the rest of the state, but in Central and Eastern Washington, there are 6.8 medical residents per 100,000 people – much less than the national average of 35.7 medical residents per 100,000 people (for the sake of fairness, Western Washington’s medical residents per 100,000 people is 29.8).
Our region clearly needs more residency slots to keep pace with the doctor shortage. More doctors in our region lead to better care and a better economy. We are leading the push for expanded graduate medical education alongside a number of community partners by meeting with our leaders at the federal level.
Transforming the medical community is something this community deserves. With around 33,000 people working in the health care sector in the region, a four-year medical school and more opportunity for residencies fits well in Spokane.
Learn more at www.morethanamedicalschool.com
How important is contracting with the government to smaller communities? Let’s look at Newport, Wash., as one example.
Newport is a town about an hour north of Spokane on the Washington-Idaho border with a population of approximately 2,140. Smaller towns – like Newport – don’t have the business-to-business opportunities that a larger community – like Spokane – would offer.
Since 2004, businesses in Newport received more than 400 government contracts totaling almost $10 million and supported nearly 200 total jobs. The Department of Agriculture awarded a large majority of the contracts, though the Department of Interior awarded a number of contracts as well.
For example, the Department of Agriculture needed its Conservation and Development Facilities repaired, so it contracted with a private company to do the work.
There are a lot of unknown opportunities when it comes to contracting with the government. For example, Fairchild Air Force Base – a government installation – needs dry cleaning services. It contracts with local companies to do the job. On a larger scale, construction companies in the area have been awarded contracts to work on various projects on the base.
So how can contracting with the government help small towns? Government agencies are required to award a certain percentage of contracts to companies in HUB Zones (more on that here). Being Hub Zone certified gives your company leverage and is typically the preferred choice for agencies awarding contracts. In our region, most small towns fall within a Hub Zone.
Delta Airlines announced yesterday new nonstop service from Spokane to Los Angeles and back. The flight will
leave Spokane early in the morning and return later the same evening, making business travel to the Los Angeles area a day trip. The nonstop service to L.A. is in addition to the nonstop service to Denver and Minneapolis that Spokane already enjoys with Delta Airlines.
For this blog’s purposes, this isn’t about getting to Disneyland or the Southern California beaches (though we all agree that both sound great). What is the benefit of nonstop service for businesses?
The old adage “time is money” can mean a lot of things for a lot of people. Being on the road for a long period of time – whatever a “long period of time” means for your company – can cost money. Hotels, rental cars, food – it’s not cheap.
Being able to fly somewhere in the morning and fly home at night is a luxury. Say, for instance, you were recruiting a new employee from Southern California. You might want as much time with that person as possible. If you had to stop in one or more places on your way, that takes up time. Getting a nonstop flight can work a lot better for you and your company.
Nonstop flights open the gates for new business opportunities. During the event to announce Delta’s new nonstop service for Spokane, Mayor David Condon talked about how this is a different kind of “North-South Corridor” for the region. So much business depends on transportation.
This nonstop service allows businesses in the Spokane region to be competitive with other, larger markets. It also makes it easier for Southern California residents to choose to visit our region, providing tourism dollars that impact our economy immensely.
Making it easier to do business is what everyone wants. Direct flights can make a big difference.
We had quite a busy few days this week, as we hosted the 15th Annual Economic Forecast and led a trip to Washington State University in Pullman to tour the colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.
We then came home to a nice reception with some prospective GSI members and the season’s first dusting of snow.
Let’s review our busy week. (more…)
The windows on the Biomedical and Health Sciences Building at the Riverpoint Campus are almost all intact, allowing construction to continue into the cooler months ahead.
Expanding medical education in Spokane has progressed a lot lately. Let’s review: Starting in the fall of 2013, the second-year of medical education will be offered in Spokane through the WWAMI program. That means students can study in Spokane for four straight years (previously, students were required to study in Seattle for their second year).
In simple terms, keeping students here all four years increases the chances that they complete their residencies here, which increases the chances that they practice medicine in our region, which helps our regional economy.
WSU Spokane Chancellor Dr. Brian Pitcher and Marty Dickinson, the Corporate Communications Executive at Sterling Bank and a member of the Academic Health Science Center Steering Committee, were on KHQ’s Invest Northwest on Oct. 28 to talk about the project:
KHQ Right Now – News and Weather for Spokane and North Idaho |
Lean more at www.morethanamedicalschool.com.
Most of the more than 1,000 attendees at this year’s Annual Meeting left with new knowledge of how the aerospace industry impacts our region.
We’ve written about it before, but let’s rehash: There are more than 80 direct and indirect suppliers to the industry in the region. Those companies employ more than 8,000 (!) people. A number of them supply to Boeing, which – if you haven’t heard – is building the new 737MAX in its Renton plant.
James Albaugh, Boeing’s Executive Vice President and our Annual Meeting keynote speaker, said Boeing expects to deliver nearly 600 airplanes this year, about 100 more than it delivered last year.
So where does Spokane figure into the mix?
The thought of a Port District in Spokane County has been discussed for years.
In fact, it’s been discussed a number of times throughout the last few decades. Recently, we took a group of 22 business leaders on a tour to the ports of Moses Lake, Walla Walla and Benton to find out how those ports operate and see if working to establish one in Spokane is viable.