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Archive for December 2010

Spokane SAVVY sold

Spokane SAVVY magazine has been purchased from founder Jesse Martinez by a group of investors, Spokane SAVVY LLC.

The group bought the magazine, its Web site, e-mail, newsletter, and customer database from J&J Ventures, a sole proprietorship.

Martinez will no longer be involved with the publication, which is distributed to doctor, dentist, and therapist waiting rooms, salons, and coffee shops.

Magazine sales manager Kevin Oliver will become general manager and Judi Bailey, one of the new owners, becomes general sales manager.


Hearing Tuesday on workers’ compensation increase

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries will hold a hearing in Spokane Tuesday on its proposed 12 percent increase in workers' compensation premiums.

Average premiums would climb 6.5 cents per hour.

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in the auditorium at the CenterPlace Regional Event Center in Spokane Valley. Written comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The increase takes effect on an emergency basis Jan. 1.

Sale of NightHawk Radiology approved; no word yet on CDA jobs

A Minnesota company on Wednesday officially bought NightHawk Radiology, once one of North Idaho’s fast-rising tech firms.

Virtual Radiologic’s purchase of NightHawk was approved Wednesday as shareholders voted to take the offer of $6.50 per share or about $170 million. Both companies provide teleradiology services, using doctors in a number of dispersed time zones who remotely look at medical images and provide quick readings of those tests for doctors, clinics and hospitals.

Virtual Radiologic Vice President of Marketing Les Mann also said it’s unclear what will occur with the remaining 70 NightHawk employees working in Coeur d’Alene. Those are the remaining workers who stayed in North Idaho after the company moved the NightHawk main office to Scottsdale, Ariz., earlier this year. Nationwide NightHawk has about 300 positions.

“That question (about NightHawk jobs) is in the to-be-determined category,” Mann said. The evaluation of which jobs need to be in Idaho or Minnesota will start after the first of the year, he added.

With the merger the company now has about 325 radiologists, and about 75 percent of those are subspecialists, Mann said.

Sirti’s John Overby joins Valley tech startup Flyback Energy

  John Overby, the director of client services at Sirti, has announced he's leaving in January for a new job.

Overby has been with state-funded startup-accelerator Sirti for almost six years.

He's taking the job of president and CEO of Spokane Valley startup Flyback Energy. That company was started in 2003 by three area engineers.

Overby and other Sirti staff have helped Flyback get their business plan sharpened. In fact, Overby liked what he saw on the drawing board and decided to join the company at a key point — within 12 months of the firm's first product release.

Flyback Energy has patented processes that are designed to tap into wasted electromagnetic energy — technically what engineers call flyback. Overby said the company will sell products —  the first group will be essentially a switch that is plugged into wall circuits — that capture and reuse some of the inherent wasted energy in an electrical circuit.

Overby has helped launch two other area companies, Advanced Hardware Architecture, based in Moscow  and Advanced Input Devices, in North Idaho.

“I hope No. 3 will be bigger than those two,” he said.

Record year for unemployment claims

Unemployment claims in Washington set new records this year, with more than 500,000 jobless workers collecting almost $4.7 billion in benefits.

The Employment Security Department this morning compared the results with 2009, when 475,000 claimants collected $4 billion in benefits, and 2008, when 290,000 collected $1.2 billion.

The federal government, which recently extended long-term benefits, paid 58 percent of the 2010 claims.

Unemployed workers drew benefits for an average 41 weeks, up from 28 weeks in 2009.


Davenport, CDA Resort get awards in magazine survey

Smart Meetings magazine has picked the Davenport Hotel and the Coeur d’Alene Resort as platinum-medal winners in its 2010 list of notable gathering spots. The only other Idaho site chosen is Sun Valley Resort.

Other locations in Washington chosen were:

• The Fairmont Olympic Hotel
• Four Seasons Hotel Seattle
• Hyatt Regency Bellevue
• Skamania Lodge
• Tulalip Resort Casino

Purchase of AmericanWest closes

The purchase of AmericanWest Bank by a new holding company closed today.

SKBHC Holdings LLC paid $6.5 million for the Spokane bank and its Utah division, Far West Bank. The group also injected $185 million in capital into AmericanWest, which was reeling from losses on construction and real estate loans.

The seller was AmericanWest Bancorporation.

The new president and chief executive officer of AmericanWest, Scott Kisting, said the institution will intensify its focus on community banking.

“This is the start of a dynamic period of strenghtening relationships with customers and expanding our franchise when possible,” he said.

AmericanWest has 40 branches in Washington and Idaho. Far West has 18 in Utah.


Superdisk of Charlie Brown’s Christmas: Huppin’s giving all sales to 2nd Harvest

Get in the mood and make a contribution to Spokane’s 2nd Harvest food bank.

This weekend, the two Huppin’s Hi-Fi, Video and Cameras stores in Spokane are offering a $10 superdisk version of the Charlie Brown Christmas recording. This is the Monster Cable 40th anniversary of Charlie Brown’s Christmas, based on the classic Vince Guaraldi recording, covered by many contemporary jazz artists.

The good part:  all proceeds go to the area’s heavily used food bank.

Audiophiles enjoy the superdisk format because of its high definition, surround-sound features.

This disk features these cuts:

1. Christmas Is Coming - David Benoit
2. Just Like Me - Vanessa Williams
3. Linus And Lucy - Dave Koz
4. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year - Toni Braxton
5. My Little Drum - Rick Braun
6. Skating - Norman Brown
7. Christmas Time Is Here - Brian McKnight
8. O Tannenbaum - Gerald Albright
9. Red Baron - The Rippingtons feat. Russ Freeman
10. The Christmas Song - Chaka Khan
11. Für Elise (Beethoven) - David Benoit
12. Christmas Time Is Here (Reprise) - Eric Marienthal


Music City of Spokane helps young piano players record, send musical greetings

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Young piano players of the area can take advantage of a Music City recording system and email a holiday tune to a loved one.

Music City is offering a free e-greetings session using the company’s Yamaha Clavinova and Disklavier pianos.

Through Dec. 24, pianists can come to the company store, 1322 N. Monroe, and record a holiday favorite on one of the Music City recording-pianos. The company will then load the recording onto a player’s flash drive or another USB device.

“These kids are just having a great time with this,” says Darrin Wittkopp, owner of Music City of Spokane.  “They are creating their own personal holiday musical greeting and message and are sending this to friends and family throughout the country.”

The offer is open to any area piano player, said Wittkopp.

Call (509) 838-8312 for more information.

State Revenue Dept. offering amnesty to tax-delinquent businesses

Last weekend’s one day special session in Olympia produced a first-ever amnesty offer for Washington businesses who are delinquent on back taxes. 

Administered by the state Department of Revenue, the program is expected to generate $24 million for the state and nearly $4 million for local government.

The deal applies to state business-and-occupation and public-utility taxes and state and local sales and use taxes.  It’s open to registered and unregistered businesses and gives the option of payment without penalties and interest.

Qualifying taxpayers can apply for the program from Feb. 1 to April 18, and must pay back taxes by April 30. The revenue department plans having application procedures ready by mid-January.

To get information, go to or call 1-800-647-7706.

Workforce training center to offer truck driving course

The North Idaho College Workforce Training Center will begin offering in January a commercial driver’s license course that will prepare people for entry-level jobs as truck drivers in less than six weeks.

Truck driving jobs are in high demand, a news release from the workforce training center said. A free information session will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the center in Post Falls. Call (208) 769-3333 for more information.

The class will be offered from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, Jan. 24 to March 2. It includes 160 hours of training through the Professional Truck Driver Institute’s required curriculum. Those who finish qualify to obtain a class A commercial driver’s license.

Applicants must be 18 or older with a valid driver’s license and a good driving record.

Mountain Gear will recycle used footwear and other outdoor textiles

Staring this week, Spokane outdoor retailer Mountain Gear will start accepting used items — footwear, jackets, pants, shirts, socks, tents, harnesses, backpacks and other cloth-based items — and will donate them to a textile recycling facility. Items do not have to be outdoor equipment only.

The intent of the program is to extend the life of usable outdoor items and materials. A company release said usable products will be reused through secondhand markets; unusable items will be recycled into new materials and fibers.  The north Spokane shop, at 2002 N. Division, will also direct customers with items needing repair to to local repair services.

About 10 percent of all textiles are reused or recycled, and Mountain Gear President Paul Fish said his company would like to raise that rate in the Spokane area.

Fish emphasized this program is meant to supplement existing recycling efforts and donations by collecting items that have reached the end of their useful life.

Those under 30 will spend more this holiday, according to one survey

See if these age-related estimates on your shopping tendencies match your own spending this holiday. They don’t match my own personal impressions, but what do I know?

Based on the survey, released by Briabe Media,  shoppers under 30 are planning to spend more this holiday season than last. Those older than 30 intend to spend less.

Why would that age, 30, make any difference?  Most 30-year-olds are better off financially than those younger, at least in my experience.

The survey was conducted entirely via users of a site called MocoSpace, on their plans for consumer shopping. That site can’t be a rock solid source; Alexa says it ranks at 1,080 as of Dec. 17 for all U.S. sites for Web traffic.

The results show 59 percent under 19 plan to spend more, 52 percent of 20-29 year-olds plan to spend more, but the majority of 30-39-year-olds plan to spend less.

It finds an even steeper drop the older the survey respondents are: 62% of 40-49 year-olds planning to spend less.

Foreclosures drop in Spokane

Foreclosures in Spokane County fell last month, but remained significantly above the pace of November 2009, according to figures released today by RealtyTrac.

The on-line foreclosure marketplace said 167 Spokane homes _ one in every 1,182 _ went into foreclosure, down 52 percent from 109 in October. But only 64 homes were foreclosed a year ago.

Slightly more than 4,000 homes were foreclosed in Washington, down 36 percent from October, but well above the 3,288 of November 2009. Washington ranked 17th among the 50 states in foreclosure rate.

In Kootenai County, 257 homes were foreclosed, or one in every 234. The total was an increase from the 188 in October and 180 of a year ago.

Foreclosures include homes subject to a notice of default, notices of a trustee or foreclosure sale, and those already foreclosed by the lender.

Statewide, 2,133 homes were foreclosed, or one in every 301. Idaho ranks eighth among the states.

Nationally, RealtyTrac said foreclosures fell 21 percent from October, and 14 percent from a year earlier. One in every 492 homes was foreclosed.  

Riven, by Cyan Worlds, is available today at iTunes

We noted yesterday the Apple iTunes store was about to release the iPad-iPhone version of Cyan Worlds’ moody world exploration game, Riven, more or less a successor to the groundbreaking Myst.

It just went live today at, and can be downloaded for $5.99.

Steve Herling shifts from KXLY GM to company’s development manager

Steve Herling, who’s been GM  at KXLY TV, in Spokane, for 28 years, steps down on Jan. 1. Station VP Teddie Gibbon will take over in the GM role.

Notably in a business where longevity is rare, Herling must really have liked his job. He’s been with the station’s Midwest-based corporation,  Morgan Murphy, for 41 years.

Herling will step down but continue focusing, as “senior VP,”  on other Morgan Murphy projects, he told us in an e-mail.

He said he’ll help oversee the plans to develop the 13-acre Radio Park commercial development project on Regal Road on the South Hill.

“There are some other holdings that we are looking at developing as well.  I will also continue our legislative efforts primarily in Idaho,” he wrote.


Felts Field to get more services

A long-time tenant of Felts Field will take over responsibility for fueling planes, and plans to add other services under a contract approved today by the Spokane International Airport board of directors.

The five-year agreement with Western Avionics Inc., doing business as Western Aviation, will bring continuity to Felts operations, which have been hampered by inconsistent service, said Interim airport Director Skp Davis.

Owner Tim Gump said Western has been located at Felts for 35 years. He bought the company  after moving his aircraft electronics business to Spokane from California in 1997, he said.

Besides fueling, Gump said he will provide maintenance, tie-down and other pilot services, possibly including the construction of a new building if another agreeement can be negotiated.

“He’s adamant about customer service,” Davis said, who added that visiting pilots have been put off by the lack of a fixed-base operator at Felts they can turn to for help.


Cyan Worlds will soon release Riven for iPad, iPhone and iPod

More than a dozen years after being introduced as a CD-Rom game, Cyan Worlds’ Riven will soon be back in circulation in app form, at the iTunes store.

The north Spokane company said Apple should release the new app version of Riven any day. It will be available at the iTunes store for $5.99. Like its predecessor, Myst, Riven follows as the successor in the story about a lost island, presenting players with an assortment of challenges and puzzles.

It took Cyan four years to build the first game. The iOS app took about a year, said Cyan Worlds CEO Rand Miller.Cyan Worlds President Tony Fryman said the firm is considering developing an Android version. But it would take more work than developing for iOS, he said.

“Creating the iOS version of Riven was no easy task,” he said in a release. had to lovingly and meticulously cram almost five thousand images, three hours of video and three more hours of sound and music into my iPhone. We began without knowing if we could even pull it off. I’m still amazed I can experience Riven in the palm of my hand.”

The end result is that almost every detail of the five CDs of the original Riven was condensed into one of the largest iOS apps available.

Unemployment rate up despite added jobs

Spokane County’s unemployment rate increased to 8.4 percent in November despite an increase in jobs.

Employment Security Division statistics released this morning showed statewide employment was almost flat, as the unemployment rate remained at a seasonally adjusted rate of 9.2 percent.

In Spokane County, where figures are not seasonally adjusted, 224,590 workers had jobs, up about 3,500 from October, when the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent.

But the labor force increased by almost 5,000 between October and November.

The unemployment rate was also 8.4 percent in November 2009, when 220,480 had jobs.

The national unemployment rate for November was 9.8 percent.

Two area firms get green-energy grants and loans from Sirti Foundation

Five statewide tech companies will receive $1.5 million in loans and grants from the Sirti Foundation, including two area firms developing energy technologies.

The money comes from an award from Washington’s Department of Commerce Energy Program, funded through the federal stimulus package. The goal is to assist companies to create high-quality jobs in energy-saving areas or environmentally beneficial products.

The two Spokane companies receiving grants and loans are:

  • $350,000 to Demand Energy Networks, a Liberty Lake firm developing Demand Shifter, an energy storage device that extracts energy from the grid, stores electricity in its batteries, and reintroduces energy back into the grid when it is needed. It will get $100,000 in loans and $250,000 in grants.  The company was launched in 2008. The grant anticipates creation of 49 additional jobs and leveraging $3,410,943 in additional funding.

The Spokesman-Review ran a story this past January on Demand Energy Networks. It’s here and includes the photo above, showing Randi Neilsen, a company executive. 

  • $200,000 to Great Northern Spokane, LLC, which is creating a geothermal heat pump demonstration project in the former Burlington Norther Santa Fe terminal acquired this year by energy management company, McKinstry.

The award provides a $100,000 loan plus a $100,000 grant. The goal is for McKinstry to use the project as a demonstration to work with other companies looking for energy savings. The project estimates eight new jobs.

Read the rest of the story below.

F5 Networks is added to the S&P 500 index

Seattle tech firm F5 Networks, which has an engineer group in Liberty Lake, has been added to the S&P 500 index, the company said this week. F5 makes load balancing tools and software components that allow major Web companies to manage net traffic efficiently. Also joining the S&P 500 Index is DVD rental service Netflix.

GSI hosts session Dec. 14 on health care tax hikes and impacts

Greater Spokane Incorporated on Tuesday (Dec. 14) is offering a seminar on health care reform and its implications for area businesses.

Greg Stewart, CPA and founder of Stewart & Associates PS, will talk about tax impacts, employer penalties, new requirements, differences for non-profit and for-profit, and other topics.

The session will be 8 a.m to 9:30 a.m. at the GSI Building, 801 W. Riverside. To register, go here.

Sky High Sports off and jumping at its Spokane location

Spokane’s trampoline emporium, Sky High Sports, just opened and is operating from 11 a.m. to late Friday through Monday and 2 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

The business took over a warehouse at 1322 Front, just east of downtown Spokane.

Customers can book trampoline time online or pay at the door. The website is The facility will soon launch trampoline aerobics classes, said Brian Deller, one of the business managers.

West Wing of the White House opens on Friday

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FOOD seems to be the predominant business model these days. After posting about Sushi Maru and Chef in the Forest, let’s go for three today:

The West Wing of the White House opens Friday at 4334 S. Regal, on Spokane’s South Hill. It’s the Spokane version of the popular Post Falls eating place, The White House Grill.

Owner Raci Erdem said he’ll have the restaurant open “either for lunch or if not then, for dinner for sure.” It will have about 75 total seats, he said.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For information, call (509)443-1660.

He hoped to open back in October. “I wanted to make some changes and we built it on the go, so it all took longer,” he said.

Hauser’s Chef in the Forest within two weeks or reopening after fire

An electrical fire one year ago destroyed Hauser’s Chef in the Forest Restaurant. It’s taken nearly 12 months to put the pieces back together.

Owners Debbie Mustered and her mother, Jo Davis, say their intimate and rustic-feeling dining location will reopen soon, depending on when they get an occupancy permit.
“We’re hoping by Dec. 22,” said Mustered.

Fans of the restaurant will see the same building, friendly service and menu. “The big changes are inside,” said Mustered. The rearrangement of walls and the bathroom opens the seating area and provides more natural light. Plus the restaurant has added a gas fireplace to cheer the place up.  Photo above is by staff photographer Kathy Plonka.

“We’ve used lighter wood, and with the windows, the whole place feels brighter,” she added.
Mustered and Davis are the fourth set of Chef owners. The restaurant, at 12008 North Woodland Beach Dr., opened in 1977. For more, read the rest of the post below:

Judge approves AmericanWest sale

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Patricia Williams today authorized the sale of AmericanWest Bank to a holding company that will inject as much as $200 million in new capital into the Spokane-based institution.

The $6.5 million deal between AmericanWest Bancorporation and SKBHC Holdings LLC is expected to close by the end of the year.

SKBHC executives who attended the hearing in Williams’ court said they could not comment on their plans for AmericanWest until the transaction is completed, but praised Chief Executive Officer Pat Rusnak, other senior managers and the board of directors for their determination and “courage” preserving a bank that was nearly out of capital.

AmericanWest operates 58 branches in Washington, Idaho and Utah, and employs 160 in Spokane.

“This is terrific news,” Rusnak said. “Our employees are excited and ready to move the bank forward.”

“We have been interested in the bank because of its mix of dedicated employees, loyal customers and attractive communities,” said SKBHC Chairman Scott Kisting. “Together with those employees, we are about to begin a new chaper in the banks’s life.

“We are very proud to be a part of it.”

Downtown’s first kaiten (belt) sushi restaurant opens on Friday

Sushi Maru, a kaiten-style sushi restaurant, opens its doors on Friday in the former spot of Sawtooth Grill in River Park Square. Kaiten restaurants use conveyor belts with foods on plates that pass by diners’ tables. Diners pull off the items they want.

Sushi Maru is run by Paul Choi, a Bellevue owner of a number of kaiten restaurants in western Washington.  Choi has stocked Sushi Maru with an extensive sake bar in the restaurant lounge. It will seat 145, counting lounge and dining area.

Plates are equipped with microchips that keep track of how long they sit on the conveyor belt. After an hour, food items not selected get pulled off, to insure that customers get fresh choices.

Hours are 11 a.m. to close Monday through Saturday, noon to close on Sunday. Disclaimer: River Park Square is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

Hayden, Idaho’s Transtector Systems lands $4.6 million contract for advanced EMP protection panels

Hayden-based Transtector Systems has won a $4.6 million contract to build advanced and highly secure panels used by the Air Force to protect Minuteman missile control systems from attack. The award was announced by Smiths Interconnect, a global corporation with extensive programs in research and defense contracts. Transtector Systems is part of Smiths Interconnect.

The Air Force contract is based on three years of testing and development by Transtector engineers, the press release said. The panels are designed to resist EMP damage; EMP stands for electromagnetic pulse, a surge in electrical radiation that can fry equipment and circuit boards, leaving them useless.

The surge protection devices developed at Transtector Systems are used in communications systems in military vehicles, watercraft, aircraft and facilities.

Beaudry owners hit with $2.1 million judgment in Idaho court

The owners of a Post Falls motorcycle dealership, Beaudry Motors, were ordered by a Coeur d’Alene court to repay $2.1 million in default loans.

Wells Fargo Bank won a default judgment against Steve and Stephanie Beaudry, owners of Beaudry Motors, Inc. and Beaudry Motorsports, in Post Falls at 1525 E. Edmonton Ave.

Steve Beaudry said he had no comment on his options and wouldn’t discuss how the default affects the business. He said he hopes to move the motorcycle dealership to another site.

Last week a judge in Idaho federal district court ordered the Beaudrys to pay off two bank loans to Wells Fargo along with interest of $411 per starting from Nov. 8. As of this week the total owed is roughly $2.12 million.

The judge ordered a default judgment when the Beaudrys failed to file a response by the deadline. Trevor Hart, a Boise attorney representing the bank, said he could not comment on what steps Wells Fargo will take to recover the amount due.

Unemployment insurance rates to rise in 2011

Washington’s unemployment insurance tax rate will increase to an average 3.26 percent next year because jobless workers received a record $2 billion in benefits, the Employment Security Department said today.

The unemployment trust fund collected only $1.2 billion during the year, but retained a $2.5 billion balance in the trust fund as of Nov. 30, the department said.

The 2011 rate will be the highest since 1988. The 2009 rate was the lowest in 40 years, but increased to an average 2.39 percent this year as unemployment rates climbed to near double-digit levels.

The state’s 170,000 employers will pay rates ranging from 1.33 percent to six percent on the first $37,000 in worker earnings. Employers delinquent on past payments, or too new to have established a claims history will pay as much as 8.64 percent.




Among the titles at Google eBooks are an assortment of historical pieces, for free

To mark the occasion of the launch of Google eBooks, we browsed over to the new site and searched for e-books there about Spokane, our fair city.

We found more than several interesting historical titles there which happen to be out of copyright and are free to download. They’re great examples of early stage regional boosterism and Great Northwest Marketing, circa the early 1900s.

Such as the pamphlet, “Spokane County As It Is, Solid Facts and Actual Results: For the information of immigrants and others” by C.B. Carlisle. The 30-page pamphlet starts:

Every steamship and railway train coming to the Northwest brings immigrants from all parts of the world, and it is more than likely that this influx of people will continue for years to come and, notwithstanding the avalanche of newspaper correspondence, pamphlets etc., which has been showered on the people of the east, north and south, for the past year or two, to the majority of these, Spokane County or country is still a terra incognita, and thousands of these are athirst for every available scrap of information about it.

Also there: “History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County, Washington, from its earliest settlement to the present time, Volume 1,” by Nelson Wayne Durham. It was published in 1912.

Matt Gerber becomes CEO at Liberty Lake’s IT-Lifeline

Matt Gerber, who’s held key jobs at area firms Itronix and SprayCool, has become CEO of Liberty Lake-based IT-Lifeline.

Gerber, who’s 46, takes the reins of the company started by Steven Tabacek, the firm’s only other CEO. Tabacek told board members he felt it was time for another person to direct IT-Lifeline, said Gerber.

IT-Lifeline provides backup and recovery-of-data services for companies across the region. It’s based in the TierPoint building in Liberty Lake. Most of its customers are health care providers and financial service companies.IT-Lifeline is focusing on gaining new customers in the Seattle area, Gerber said. At present about 30 percent of IT-Lifeline’s customers are from that area. “We want to make that 50 percent in the next two years,” Gerber said.

Gerber held a number of positions, including senior vice president for marketing at Itronix, which was acquired by General Dynamics.  He moved to SprayCool where he became CEO in 2007 and then left after the company was acquired earlier this year.

He said Tabacek remains an owner of IT-Lifeline but is pursuing other entrepreneurial interests.

Teddie Gibbon to take over as KXLY GM in January

KXLY TV’s Teddie Gibbon, who’s been vice president and station manager, will move into the general manager’s job effective in January. Formally, she’s taking that job with Spokane Television, Inc., the company that operates KXLY TV.

Gibbon, who’s 46, takes over for Steve Herling, who’s retiring. Herling will work for the company as a consultant. Gibbon declined to say what changes or goals she might be undertaking for KXLY’s news coverage.

She’s worked at KXLY since 1982. Her favorite TV show:  “Dancing With the Stars.”

Downtown Nectar Tasting Room now shooting for late-December opening

Josh Wade, the owner of Nectar Tasting Room, said he hopes the Spokane wine tasting hangout opens by the end of the year.

“We’ve got our permits in and should be getting electrical, plumbing and HVAC work done this week,” said Wade.

It’s been about two months since Wade announced he’s opening the room in the main floor of the 1889 Building, at 120 N. Stevens in downtown.

Moving forward took longer than expected. “It always takes longer,” he said.

Our earlier Office Hours blog post is here.

Wade plans on a soft opening the final weekend of December. He will have a formal opening on Jan. 7.

Nectar Tasting Room will serve as a satellite tasting area for five regional wineries. It will stay open Thursday-Saturday at first. Hours will expand as the business starts rolling, he added.

His wine blog is


Spokane firm Womer & Associates receives minority business award

Womer & Associates, a Spokane-based architectural, engineering, and environmental services firm, is winner of this year’s Northeast Washington Minority Business of the Year Award.

The University of Washington’s Business and Economic Development Center (BEDC) made the selection and honored the company at a Seattle ceremony earlier this week. A total of seven Washington companies were honored.

Started in 1992 and owned by Native Americans, Womer has roughly 30 workers with offices in Spokane, Coulee Dam and Olympia.

Its work projects include the Spokane Airport, Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce, Northern Quest Casino and  Inn of the Mountain Gods, in New Mexico.

The privately held company has rebounded from the recession and grown its 2010 revenues above pre-recession rates, the awards committee noted.

Their site is here.

MacKenzie River Pizza update: the deconstruction of clutter

OK, this will make our third and last post here about the MacKenzie River Pizza Co. location announcement, made this week by Glacier Restaurant Group, out of Whitefish, Mont.

Our earlier post noted that a press release quoted Glacier COO Brad Ridgeway explaining the choice of location, in North Spokane at the intersection of Nevada and Jay (along the Nevada corridor), as a way to “reap the visibility benefits while avoiding the clutter of the competition.”

We asked Brad what that means. In brief, it means having good access to customers and drivers, but also not setting up shop on crowded Newport Highway, which is about 450 feet to the west of the site Glacier chose.

By being off a distance and not smack dab in the mix of retail on Newport Highway, MacKenzie should do fine. He noted that another one of their MacKenzie locations is next to or near an Olive Garden. It’s not always beneficial for one eatery to be next to a larger one, Ridgeway said.


What did he mean, the “clutter of the competition”?

Sometimes we just move along with the material given to us and don’t stop to think what’s been said.

Point in case, the earlier post we had about MacKenzie River Pizza coming to Spokane next year, near the big new WinCo.

The COO of Glacier Restaurant Group said one reason for that site is the nice avaiability of north Spokane’s residential population. And it also helps by letting “us reap the visibility benefits while avoiding the clutter of the competition.”

We will follow up and try to nail down what the “clutter” referred to really is.

See the previous Office Hours post below for the full story.

MacKenzie River Pizza coming to a new location on North Nevada

The Montana restaurant company that will bring a Ciao Mambo eatery to downtown plans to build its first Eastern Washington MacKenzie River Pizza Co. store in north Spokane next year.

Glacier Restaurant Group said it will lease a 5,800-square-foot restaurant to go in the corner of N. Nevada Street and E. Jay Avenue. The owner of the site is Spokane Pavilion LLC.

The state of Montana, so far, is home to a dozen MacKenzie River Pizza locations; Coeur d’Alene has one.

The north Spokane pizza restaurant will open in May or June 2011 and is expected to bring in over 70 jobs to the Spokane area, according to Cory Barbieri of Goodale and Barbieri Co., who handled the transaction for Glacier and Spokane Pavilion LLC. The new building will cost about $1.1 million, with Lone Wolf Construction, of Montana, as general contractor.

The photo above is of the Kalispel pizza place.

The Nevada Street corridor was chosen by Glacier because it has the appeal of north Spokane access along with the “added bonus of being located in an up-and-coming retail center,” said Brad Ridgeway, COO of Glacier Restaurant Group.

“This site allows us to reap the visibility benefits while avoiding the clutter of the competition,” he also said.

Red Lion adds California franchise

A Concord, Calif., hotel will become a Red Lion Hotels Corp. franchisee next month, the Spokane-based chain said today.

The Holiday Inn Concord, with 189 room and 5,400 square feet of meeting space, is the third Northern California hotel to convert to the Red Lion brand in the last month. The others are in Rancho Cordova and Oakland.

All three are expected to make the change in January.

“Red Lion owns and operates hotels, in addition to franchising them, which is something appreciated by franchise owners who have similar types of hotels,” interim Chief Executive Officer Jon Eliassen said.

As of Sept. 30, Red Lion owned or franchised 43 hotels in the western United States and Canada.



Tom Fritz, CEO of INHS, the next Executive Connect speaker

If you still can’t figure out what INHS does, and what they’re doing in the area of electronic health records (EHR), the chance to get some answers is next week, during the next Executive Connect Breakfast, at the Spokane Club.

It will be a session Dec. 9 with Tom Fritz, CEO of INHS, the nonprofit company that does a number of administrative and service functions for area hospitals. Among them is the role of managing the electronic records system that allows many regional hospitals and clinics to keep a steady flow or medical data back and forth.

Fritz will be the speaker at the meeting, in the Georgian Ballroom, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Doors open at 7 a.m.

Registration for $30 is required by going here. To ask questions, call 509.358.2114.


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

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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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