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

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

Spokane in Olympia Day 3: Emptying the Notebook as we Return Home

OLYMPIA, Wash. – After three days of advocating for the greater Spokane region, a delegation of 89 Spokane area business, education and community leaders finished up with a breakfast meeting with Lynn Ann Peterson, the Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation. With no specific meetings left, it’s time to empty our notebook: Common Themes The delegation heard a number of common themes throughout the week. “Reforms” was a word tossed around by many legislators. Some want reforms within the Department of Transportation before funding a transportation package. Others want reforms to the way the state collects revenue before Continue reading

Spokane in Olympia Day 2: Health Care and Higher Ed the Topics of the Day

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In a legislature that seems to see partisan attitudes impact progress on some issues, there is one area where bipartisanship is alive and well. In discussions on higher education, state legislators in both branches and both parties are largely in agreement. “We know the importance of higher education,” Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D – Seattle) told a delegation of nearly 90 Spokane-area business, education and community leaders Thursday. “It’s something we usually find agreements on.” Last year, the legislature approved a zero dollar increase in tuition for the state’s public colleges and universities. “Many of us don’t want Continue reading

Spokane in Olympia Day 1: Transportation and K-12 Education Take Center Stage

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The top two issues facing the Washington State Legislature were the main topics on the first day of Greater Spokane Incorporated’s (GSI) advocacy trip to Olympia on Wednesday. This trip is in conjunction with the Greater Spokane Valley and West Plains chambers of commerce. Eighty-nine area business, education and community leaders arrived in Olympia ready for three days of advocating for the greater Spokane region, and it wasn’t long before the major topics came into focus. Transportation The biggest issue on the legislature’s to-do list is a transportation package. Governor Jay Inslee wanted one last Thanksgiving but Continue reading