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AmericanWest Bank announces plans to take over Sacramento bank

AmericanWestBank has announced plans to acquire Bank of Sacramento. 

The deal, announced Wednesday, is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

Founded in 1998, Bank of Sacramento has $468 million in assets and four branches, all in the Sacramento area.

AmericanWest has $4 billion in assets, five branches in the Sacramento area and 94 branches overall. The press release states the local branches are in complementary locations, suggesting they would all remain open.

The transaction is scheduled to close in early 2015. Under terms of the deal, Greater Sacramento Bancorp shareholders will receive $22.05 per share, or $60 million in aggregate, with a reduction in certain circumstances.AmericanWest will acquire Greater Sacramento Bancorp, the holding company for Bank of Sacramento.

The merger will result in a bank with $4.5 billion in assets and 100 banking locations on the West Coast.

“This merger is a great fit for Bank of Sacramento. We share a similar approach to community commercial banking, and Bank of Sacramento will help bolster AmericanWest’s presence in the Sacramento market,” William J. Martin, president and CEO of Bank of Sacramento, said in the news release. “Bank of Sacramento customers will benefit from the expanded resources of the combined company while continuing to enjoy great service from their Bank of Sacramento bankers.”

Mayor Condon invited to talk Thursday on IP and business growth in Spokane

Spokane Mayor David Condon is the guest speaker tomorrow — Thursday — at a business lunch hosted by K&L Gates law firm.

The lunch runs from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lincoln Center, at 1316 N. Lincoln St.

Condon will speak on the recent and historical successes of IP-centric businesses in the Spokane community.  Plated lunch and dessert will be served.  Condon is also likely to discuss his view of Spokane's business climate and growth prospects over the next year.

Reservations should be made by the end of today, by emailing

Tickets are $20.

Condon's remarks are related to the 2014 Inland Empire Intellectual Property Institute full-day CLE session.  For attorneys and law students wishing to register for the CLE, go to this link to register.





GSI presents Green Economy overview at session this afternoon

Greater Spokane Incorporated is hosting a Green Economy symposium in downtown Spokane today (Wednesday), starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Spokane Club.

Who's presenting? Patrick O'Keefe, a senior VP and managing director at CH2M Hill; Elson Floyd, president of Washington State University; and Philip Mezey, CEO of Itron.

You can reserve a seat at Cost is $20 for GSI folkls, $30 for others.

Red Lion adds new Federal Way franchise, plus one in Detroit

Spokane-based Red Lion Hotels is not done with its plans for Seattle. Two months ago it announced it will sell its Bellevue hotel.

Last year it also sold off its downtown hotel and made it one of its franchise properties.

On Monday the company announced another franchise, the Red Lion Inn & Suites in Federal Way, at 1688 S. 348th St.

The building has 90 guest rooms, a conference room and laundry facilities. The press release noted it's 15 miles from the Seattle-Tacoma airport.

The owner, Paul Sandhu of NW Hospitality LLC, said he plans to invest $2 million for upgrades to rooms, meeting areas and a new indoor pool.

Last week Red Lion also announced  it's signed a franchise deal for a hotel near Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

“The Detroit metro area is among the top 20 MSAs in the U.S., which we are targeting as we expand eastward,” said Brian Quinn, Chief Franchise Officer for RLHC.

That property is at 9095 Wickham Road. It  has 77 rooms and is located about three miles from Detroit Metropolitan Airport.  It is expected to convert to Red Lion by the end of the year.

Nectar Wine founder plans new location in Kendall Yards, using Kickstarter

Josh Wade, who launched Nectar Tasting Room in 2011 in downtown Spokane, is adding a wine-and-beer specialty store and pub in the Kendall Yards neighborhood.

He will move into a 2,200-square-foot space adjoining Veraci Pizza, east of Central Food. His new location will be called Nectar Wine and Beer, at 1331 W. Summit Parkway.

The front third of the space will be used to sell retail wine, beer and cheese. The middle area will offer seating for food service. The back third, facing the river, will be a 35-seat lounge and tasting area featuring wines and craft beers.

Veraci Pizza will provide the menu, Wade said. He expects the new location to open in February.

Wade has launched a Kickstarter campaign hoping to raise $20,000 to provide his initial inventory. Interior design will be done by Hissong Design Group.

Nectar Tasting Room will remain open. His new business will operate six days a week, Wade added

Finders Keepers jewelry store plans its final day on Oct. 25

Finders Keepers Jewelry store on Spokane, originally started by Deena Caruso, is closing down. It's offering huge markdowns to help sell off its inventory, that's it, said co-owner Connie Pearce. Here's their Facebook page. The expected last day is Oct. 25.

Caruso was the guiding hand behind the retail shop, at 309 W. Second Ave., until earlier this year when she chose to move to New York.

Caruso's teenage daughter has begun an acting career and Deena chose to move to the big city to help guide that career forward.

A second Finders Keepers fashion store, at 18 W. Main Ave., is not going to close.

Washington, Idaho get cash through AT&T ‘cramming’ settlement

About 40 U.S. attorneys general announced they arranged a $105 million settlement with AT&T Mobility to resolve consumer problems over the problem of cell phone “cramming” charges.

Washington will get about $807,000 from the settlement. Idaho will get about $230,000 from the settlement.

The news for consumers is better than that. Many are eligible to apply for a refund.  Washington has around 500,000 AT&T customers, according to a release from the Washington Attorney General office.

Cramming is the unauthorized addition of charges on cell phone bills, often done at the behest of third-party companies sending text messages or trying to lure customers into adding services.

Under the agreement, AT&T will make sure it has the customer's consent before billing for third-party charges.
AT&T will continue offering consumers the option to block all third-party charges. Other phone carriers, not just AT&T, offer third-party blocking service for free.

Consumers can find out more information about the refund process and submit claims by visiting the website.

To determine if you are eligible for a refund, you can also contact the FTC’s refund contractor at 1-877-819-9692 for more information.

Procurement session on Friday will help small businesses get certified

Spokane’s Women’s Business Center is hosting a session Friday morning on landing contracts with area government and education agencies or with Fairchild Air Force Base.

Aimed at small-business owners and managers, the free event runs 8 a.m. to noon at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St.

More than 20 businesses will be represented. They will meet with a panel of area procurement officers who work at the air base, the Community Colleges of Spokane, the city of Spokane and other groups.

Any business wanting information about federal contracting services is encouraged to attend, said Laurie S. Roth-Donnell, the business center manager.

The main focus will be on business owners qualifying for certification with Washington’s Procurement and Technical Assistance Center program, she said.

A panel of local experts will share information with attending businesses, and from 10:30 a.m. to noon there will be a business trade fair

Market Vision heads to the Garland neighborhood with a new office

Spokane marketing and advertising firm Market Vision Inc. has relocated to new offices at 3925 N. Monroe St., in the Garland District.

For about 15 years the company has been based in the historic former city firehouse at 1229 N. Monroe. KPBX Public Radio purchased that firehouse and will use it for its new offices.

Market Vision, with 12 employees, bought its new building and property for $350,000 last fall. President Scott Sloan said the firm will spend more than $500,000 on major remodeling and improvements.

It hired Wolfe Architectural Group of Spokane for the building redesign, with TW Clark Construction as the general contractor.

Brandon Foote, of OnPOINT Imaging, is this week’s speaker at Executive Connect

Brandon Foote, CEO of OnPOINT Imaging, a Spokane Valley-based company, will be the speaker at Wednesday's Executive Connect breakfast at the Spokane Club, on the corner of Riverside and Monroe.

OnPOINT Imaging, which Foote founded, is a provider of document imaging, network integration and electronic presentation technology.

Doors open at 7 a.m., with the program running from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

You can make a reservation here.


Spokane’s Oz Fitness, sold to two state guys, will be rebranded müv Fitness

Friday's story about the former owners of Vision Quest gyms had only as much information as was supplied to us by a PR company.

Today (Sept. 12) we got to talk with partner Jeff Carlson. Three key points:

* He isn't a Spokane native, correcting the story's first statement that two Spokane “natives” were buying Oz Fitness and rebranding it. “I was born in Seattle and grew up there, but I spent a lot of time visiting Spokane,” he said. His business partner, Chip Schwerzel, is from Spokane originally.

A PR sheet mistakenly said Carlson was a Spokane native.

* Second:  the new business name will be mv Fitness. The U will have an umlaut, and Carlson said he couldn't give a great reason for that choice.

* They also plan to expand the business, both in focus and in geography. The four sites in Spokane will all add personal training, something Oz Fitness hadn't offered, Carlson said. He also plans to grow the business. Eventually it will look to move into the Seattle area, at some future point.

Dawn of the Donut resurrected, apparently finding a buyer for bakery

As we noted last week, the owner of Dawn Of the Donut was looking for a new owner to take over the zombie-themed bakery, which has a storefront on North Division. If he couldn't, owner Marty Judnich was ready to close the shop.

Today the owner posted online that a new owner has been found. We'll try to get more details later today.

The company's Facebook page has the update:


Itron names Schmitz as CFO

Liberty Lake-based Itron Inc. has named W. Mark Schmitz as its new chief financial officer and executive vice president.

Schmitz has more than four decades of experience in finance and executive roles in manufacturing, service, retail and technology industries.

Most recently he was CFO of Alghanim Industries, a global corporation headquartered in Kuwait.

He previously worked as CFO at a number of other companies, including the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Tyco International and Plug Power Inc. For more than a dozen years Schmitz also held executive positions with General Motors.

Itron’s previous CFO, Steven Helmbrecht, announced in April he would leave the company at the end of the year.

Owner of Dawn of the Donut announces the shop will shut down next week

The owner of Dawn of the Donut, a Spokane bakery that served a variety of zombie-themed baked goods, will close the business next week.

The business opened in August 2013 with a storefront at 3402 N. Division St, and a roving donut truck.

The owner, Martin Judnich, is a Missoula attorney who said he found it too hard to maintain the business from a distance.

He announced it’s closing on Sept. 14. The company’s Facebook page invites would-be buyers to contact a broker for details on a possible sale. The broker, Don Cunningham, said Judnich is offering the company’s assets and inventory for around $22,000.

“I started it because it was a fun idea and was interesting,” Judnich said. “But it takes a lot of time and effort, and it became a quality of life issue for me, especially trying to raise a young family,” he said.

 The business has about 12 workers, Judnich said.

“It’s been profitable. If someone wants to buy it, they should contact Don Cunningham,” he said.  The business had about 20 wholesale accounts as well, Cunningham said.

Flipping and the local housing market: Bigger homes are dominating that niche activity

Wednesday's SR had a quick hit on the general softening of the “flipper” home sale market, in Spokane and nationwide. But not in Seattle, where the high-rollers keep buying and selling, above the national average. (See the graphic below.)

The story relied entirely on data derived and digested by RealtyTrac. Here's their story,  and a quote from that story:

“High-end homes represented an increasing share of homes flipped in the second quarter. Homes with a flipped sale price of $750,000 or higher represented 4.10 percent of all homes flipped during the quarter, up 21 percent from a year ago, while homes with a flipped price of $400,000 to $750,000 represented 12.66 percent of all flips, up 10 percent from a year ago. Flips on homes priced below $400,000 declined as a share of all flips from a year ago.”

Today's story also had the additional detail that “flipping” in Washington state is regulated, requiring contractors to license and obtain insurance before undertaking that activity. We have to wonder if anyone really regulates the activity. How would you track someone who sells two homes  a year?

The Bennett Block has plans to get more exciting and dynamic

Is this the Bennett Block or the House the Hiebers Built?

Dru Hieber, whose family first developed the downtown Spokane block on Main and Howard, looks ahead to a new and more dynamic business center on the family's property. See our Monday story for more details.

Here's one of the renderings provided by Chris Olson, of Nystrom+Olson Architects, of Spokane.


Thank Jim Sheehan and Walt Worthy: new owners take over Globe Building

A Spokane investment group has purchased the historic Globe Building at 204 N. Division St., in downtown Spokane, paying previous owners Owen and Julie Clarke $1.32 million for the three-story building.

The buyers are Globe Building Partners LLC, which includes Spokane investors Kevin Edwards, Mark D’Agostino and John Pariseau.

They intend to locate retail on the main level, which measures 3,540 usable square feet. Also expanding into a section of the main level space is next-door business The Blind Buck. Two additional floors, each 10,000 square feet, will be improved for either office or apartment use.

Pariseau said the purchase followed significant big east-downtown investments led by Walt Worthy, building the convention center hotel, and Jim Sheehan, expanding the Saranac block on West Main Avenue.

The building, originally the Globe Hotel when it opened in 1908, is on the Spokane and the national historic landmark registers. Todd Rothrock, of the Rothrock Company, represented the sellers. Edwards represented the investors.

Seattle author, activist Nick Hanauer coming to WSU for two lectures

Seattle business owner and economics activist Nick Nanauer will give two lectures Oct. 2 at Washington State University Pullman and in Spokane at the Martin Woldson Theater.

.Regarded as one of the Northwest's most ardent advocates for income equality, Hanauer is making those remaks through the annual WSU Thomas S. Foley Distringuisehd Lecture Series.

He speaks and takes questions from the audience at 2:30 p.m. in the Compton Union Building (CUB) Auditorium on the WSU Pullman campus and at 7:30 p.m. at the Fox Theater in downtown Spokane.

Both events are free.

His lecture, “Saving American Capitalism: The Truth about Jobs, Prosperity and Economic Growth,” covers the issues now debated and widely discussed, including divergences in U.S. and European capital accumulation versus stagnant wages.

“I have been rewarded obscenely for my success with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine,” Hanauer says. But he warns that the rising and unprecedented level of economic disparity critically threatens our capitalist democratic

His collected comments and references to his career as an entrepreneur are at

Both presentations are sponsored by the Foley Institute with support from community members

NorthTown’s new look: a walking-friendly north side and shops along Queen Ave.

Some of the work involved in NorthTown Mall's north side renovation started becoming obvious this week. Earlier this year, owner General Growth Partners began tearing out the inner shops lining the north corridor.

Yesterday work crews  from Bayley Construction, of Seattle, began tearing down the north wall that separates the two anchor tenants on that side, Kohl's on the east and Macy's on the west. They are on the side facing Queen Avenue.

This Google map view shows the section of the wall that's being torn out. It is marked by the solid red line. In its place will be a new configuration. See the rendering below, by architects DLR, to get the full effect.

That work won't be ready for new tenants until around mid-2015, said NorthTown Senior General Manager John Shasky.

If Ellensburg creates a public fiber utility, would local cities do the same?

If you're among those who believe that reliable, affordable Internet service is too important to be left to CenturyLink and Comcast, here's something to read.

The city of Ellensburg is considering turning its city-funded fiber network into a public utility.

Still early in discussions, a recent story at the Ellensburg Daily-Record noted that the city will look at possibly using the network for businesses and residences.

Here's a part of the story:

The Ellensburg City Council voted unanimously Monday night to direct city staff to offer a request for qualifications from contractors to write a long-term strategic plan for the city’s telecommunications utility.

The city has operated a fiber-optic cable network that supports information services for multiple public institutions in Ellensburg, from the police department to Central Washington University.
Charter Communications built the network, which the city managed. When Charter asked to change the deal to require the city to pay for use of the lines, city staff determined the city would save money in the long run if it built its own, and awarded a $961,000 bid for construction to Cannon Construction last December. The project was slated for completion late this summer.

Charter’s deal asked for a $10,000 per month lease.

Right now, the city ordinance that established the utility only provides for servicing public entities, as the Charter-owned network did before.

“Typically, for this type of an activity, (a strategic plan) would include a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis for the telecom utility,” city Energy Services Director Larry Dunbar said.

Dunbar said the plan also would also look at how the service would be delivered, and if the city would provide it.
“These are some pros and cons that need to be fleshed out very carefully as this unfolds,” he said.

Council member Tony Aronica called the proposal exciting. He said he remembered how his Internet service was affected when discussions between his provider, which offered Internet from a third party as a bundler, and Charter Communications, broke down.

“It impacts Ellensburg at the business level but also at the consumer level, because there’s not really any other options,” he said. “I think it’s responsible of us to do this.”

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

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Read all the posts from recent conversations on Office Hours.


John Stucke John Stucke is a deputy city editor who helps build local news coverage and writes about health care, bankruptcy and rural affairs.

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Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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