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Spokane would likely gain jobs in U.S. Postal Service shuts Montana centers

UPDATED 11:45 Dec. 6:

After a conversation Tuesday with USPS District spokesman Ernie Swanson, we'll now add these details to the story:

  • In addition to possible western Montana processing center closures, USPS sites in Pasco and Wenatchee that might close would also affect Spokane's processing center headcount.  No firm numbers are being discussed, and it's not certain any of those four sites (Kalispel, Missoula, Pasco and Wenatchee) will be closed.
  • Any closures won't happen until mid to late 2012, Swanson said. Decisions will be made around March 2012. Any closures would take a few months to plan and execute, he said.

Postal officials say the closure of two Montana mail processing centers could add jobs to the Spokane processing center, on the city's West Plains.

No decisions have been made about any closing of post offices or processing centers. The discussion has started getting more focused as U.S. Postal Service officials are hosting meetings with communities that are on the possible-closure list.

About 40 jobs in western Montana would be eliminated if processing operations in Missoula and Kalispell are shut down. 
All the processing from Montana would shift to Spokane, according to plans by the postal service. Spokane's operation would not be reduced.
District spokesman Ernie Swanson offered no estimate on how many jobs Spokane would gain if the Montana sites are closed.
Postal officials say they expect the mail carrier to lose about $5 billion this year. One study estimated that shutting the Missoula center could save an estimated $1.2 million per year. 
Other operations targeted for possible closure are in the Tri-Cities, Wenatchee, Kent, the Puget Sound area and in Oregon.
A decision to make the cuts final will be made in the first quarter of 2012.

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