Archive for February 2012
Washington state released two numbers Wednesday, both with a smiling face.
First, the January jobless number for the state was 8.3 percent, a drop from December's revised rate of 8.6 percent.
The second: a revised total job growth number for 2011. Due to the arcane business of “benchmarking,” the state's overall job gains in 2011 are now bigger and more subtantial than first believed.
The revised, benchmarked data show Washington gained about 53,500 jobs in 2011, compared to the 26,600 jobs previously reported. That's more than 100 percent better than the original number.
Benchmarking is a process by which the government goes back over data supplied by employers and recalculates and improves the data for jobless rates and employment.
Another upside from benchmarking: Washington's jobless rates in the latter half of 2011 were slightly better than initially estimated.
In other announcements, the state Employment Security Department announced the state gained 13,200 jobs during January.
“These numbers show that our economy is gaining strength, and that’s great news to start to the new year,” said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause. If you care to dive into the full ESD release, it's at this link.
Here are the big sectors gaining jobs during January:
Big losers among statewide sectors:
Cable company Comcast Corp. has launched a home security service as part of its Xfinity Home package, offering both monitoring and remote controls that can be used to adjust lights or heating.
A noted expert on helping families run family-run businesses will headline the annual Gonzaga University School of Business Administration’s Family Owned Business Conference, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on March 13 in the Jepson Center auditorium.
Leading the day's session is Andrew Keyt, executive director of the Loyola University Chicago Family Business Center. This year's event is “Your Family Business: Building Success. Building Your Future.” Cost is $195 per person for the first two family members, $45 for each subsequent family member.
Small businesses, family members, and managers of family businesses are welcome.
Keyt will lead a discussion of one of the most critical aspects of running a sustainable family business: company governance. He will outline a successful family business governance system and discuss how family businesses can improve success across generations.
Mayor David Condon on Monday announced he's hired local BBB CEO Jan Quintrall to be in charge of the city's Business and Developer Services office.
That office used to have the name of Economic Development Division. Theresa Sanders, the current city manager, headed that division in the administration of previous mayor Mary Verner.
Quintrall's job starts Monday; she'll earn $118,494 if approved by the City Council.
Filling in as interim CEO of the Spokane Regional BBB will be Elea Katzele.
The official release said the new division will include building, planning, engineering services, capital programs and workforce development. Quintrall said her focus will be in eliminating red tape and making business activities and projects less cumbersome.
The key job task is “making sure the people who work (in the department) have the right tools to do their jobs effectively,” she said.
While Verner and other mayors have vowed to simplify the permitting and business application process at the city, Quintrall said the system has a ways to go.
She added, “The bureaucracy breeds on itself. There is still a lack of clarity” in how people go through the business development process, she said.
Sonny Wittkopp, chairman and CEO of Music City Spokane, began his career selling pianos and organs 50 years ago.
So which musical instruments does he play? The answer will surprise you.
Read our “Front & Center” profile this weekend in Sunday Business.
Thursday's Spokesman.com and today's Spokesman-Review had stories about planned mail processing center closures, and the resulting increase in volume to be felt at the Spokane center near the Spokane Airport.
Still undecided are considerations by the USPS to close post office buildings around the country. At one point the USPS said it might close up to 3,600 post offices as part of an effort to eliminate an immense $3 billion budget shortfall.
Several Spokane area post offices have been on the list for possible closure. Ernie Swanson, the Washington state regional USPS spokesman, said no decision on the post offices will be made until May 15, at the earliest.
On a related matter, the USPS is still trying to find a sub-leasor for office space it vacated at the Crescent Court building in downtown Spokane.
Swanson said no new agreements have been made to sublease the 24,000 square feet in the building. The USPS said last year it's paying about $490,000 per year for that space, formerly used when Spokane ran a regional office. That regional office closed and was consolidated in Seattle.
Tony Bonanzino knows a few things about business.
He's the featured guest at Friday's LaunchPad INW event, an Entrepreneur and Small Business Community discussion starting at 11:30 a.m. at the LaunchPad location, 120 N. Stevens in downtown.
Bonanzino was one of the original group of investors who took over the operation of the Hollister Stier Laboratories in the 1990s after previous owner Bayer chose to close the operation.
He became CEO and guided the privately funded company into new areas of growth. Just this week the contract pharma unit of Hollister Stier — now called HollisterStier Jubilant — announced it's lined up $90 million in deals. In 2007, Jubilant, an Indian life sciences company, purchased Hollister Stier.
He will also discuss the business he helped start with his son after he left the company. A networking follow-up will take place at Nectar Tasting Room.
Cost is $10 per person payable at the door. College students with valid ID and LaunchPad paid members attend for free. RSVP to email@example.com.
CORRECTED Feb. 23, 10:30 a.m.
Gonzaga University will break ground this spring on a $14 million, four-story building that will add about 650 parking spaces and ground-level dining options for students and area residents.
The new building, which will replace a surface parking lot, will be bordered by Hamilton and Cincinnati streets and DeSmet and Boone avenues. When finished in January 2013, the 250,000-square-foot Gonzaga Retail and Parking Center will be the new home of GU’s campus bookstore and eventually several retail businesses.
The building will have three levels above ground, one underground.
The building will have four levels, GU officials said.
GU school has no immediate plan to sign leases for retail space because it needs to use some of the ground level as a temporary student dining area at some point.
GU’s student dining hall is currently in the COG Building in the center of campus. That building will eventually be demolished to make way for a larger University Center.
RENDERING: ALSC Architects.
How did Spokane's Huppins become a major national electonics retailer?
Company CEO and President Murray Huppin will talk about the company's four-generation history and growth at the next Executive Connect Breakfast, at 7:30 a.m. March 22.
The event is at the Spokane Club's Georgian Ballroom.
Consumers today think of Huppins and its online site, OneCall, as an established electronics brand. The company's early roots, however, were in clothing retail and pawnbroking.
Huppin's moved into electronics completely in the 1970s, and launched OneCall in 1994.
OneCall was ranked in Internet Retailer’s Top 20 Consumer Electronics retailer web sites of 2008. Tickets are $30 and can be bought at the Connect Northwest registration page.
North Spokane contract pharmaceutical manufacturer Jubilant HollisterStier has won about $90 million in new projects stretching over five years, the firm’s parent company announced.
The contracts involve production of sterile injectable medicines for four companies that sell to customers in the United States and Europe, according to a release from Jubilant Life Sciences, the India company that owns Jubilant HollisterStier.
Confidential agreements prevent disclosure of the companies involved or the names of the drugs to be produced in Spokane, said Shannon Jordan, a Jubilant HollisterStier spokeswoman.
Even describing the medical conditions the drugs treat can be viewed as disclosing information to the four companies’ competitors, said Jordan.
The $90 million is an estimate based on past experience with contracts of this type, she added. The actual amount over five years may be more or less, depending on the clients’ projected needs.
Jubilant HollisterStier, which has a separate division that produces allergy-treatment drugs, employs about 600 workers, including temporary employees.
The new contracts could raise that number if the client companies ramp up production, she said.
Generally, OfficeHours really likes good data visualizations. We were heartened to see that LATimes.com runs word and concept diagrams on many search terms. So this is the relationship chart at LATimes.com for the word Spokane.
We don't really get it, however. Whatever the system is, the results are a grab-bag of uncertain connections.
We certainly hoped there would be some connection between Spokane and a number of stellar athletes, say, Jeremy Lin. But all we see are some expected links — John Stockton, being obvious. Who's Aaron Gray? (Jordan Farmar? Doesn't he play hoop, but using his name here won't generate any hits, not the way Jeremy Lin does.)
The celebrity bubble produced three names: Dylan, Bon Iver and Chuck D. I'll give a $3 Starbucks card to the first person who can establish why the The Times site links those three with “Spokane.”
BOISE — A Canadian company is spending millions of dollars exploring for gold deposits in a historic mining district near the tiny mountain town of Yellow Pine.
The exploration activity is taking place in the so-called Stibnite district, located in central Idaho about 50 miles east of McCall. The site produced nearly a million ounces of gold between the 1920s and late 1990s.
The Lewiston Tribune reports that the Midas Gold Corp. acquired control of the district in 2009 and has filed additional mineral claims.
Company officials talked about their exploration project Monday before the House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.
Company Vice President Anne Labelle told lawmakers a decision has not yet been made if the new deposits are big enough to justify spending millions more on developing a mine.
The Bank of America branch at 804 N. Monroe St. near downtown Spokane will close in May, the company announced.
The plan is to move that branch’s workers to other positions in the area, bank spokeswoman Britney Sheehan said.
The closure results from “ongoing evaluation” of how BofA's local branches serve the community’s banking needs, she added.
The bank will install a stand-alone ATM in the area of Broadway and Monroe, though Sheehan said the location hasn’t been identified yet.
BofA expects to continue reducing the number of branches over the next 10 years as customers adopt a variety of other options for managing accounts and obtaining bank services, Sheehan said.
A big deal for the crafters in the area, Hobby Lobby has announced it's opening a north Spokane location later this year.
This will be the national craft retailer's second Spokane area location.
It's taking part of the former Hastings store at 7706 N. Division St. It’s spending about $750,000 to convert the building, said Scott Nelson, Hobby Lobby’s assistant vice president of real estate.
What was the most unusual product sold in a carton made by Spokane manufacturer Sonderen Packaging? Company president Mark Sonderen reveals it in the next Front & Center profile by Michael Guilfoil, this weekend in Sunday Business. Don't miss it.
Spokane's People to People Ambassador Programs, run by Ambassadors Group, has handed out 50 full travel scholarships as part of its celebration of 50 years in business.
The publicly traded company is a for-profit provider of global student travel, themed to education and cultural exchange.
The scholarships were awarded to one student in all 50 states, and a press release said the idea was meant to “further the organization's long-term goal of building cultural awareness and global understanding.”
The winning students received a place on their local Student Ambassador delegation traveling to destinations such as Europe, Australia, China and South Africa this summer.
The sweepstakes were open to full-time students in grades 5 through 12 who entered an online submission form.
Winners were chosen from more than 60,000 entrants and were selected randomly.
After a long and contentious legal battle and more than three years in bankruptcy, Washington Mutual Inc. has won court approval of a reorganization plan, the Associated Press reports.
A Delaware judge who had twice rejected reorganization plans filed by Washington Mutual approved the company’s latest plan today.
As with its earlier proposals, Washington Mutual’s plan is based on WMI, JPMorgan Chase and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. settling lawsuits they filed against one another after the collapse of Seattle-based Washington Mutual Bank and the sale of its assets to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $1.9 billion. It was the largest bank failure in U.S. history.
The plan calls for some $7 billion to be distributed to creditors and includes significant recoveries for shareholders, who often are left with nothing in bankruptcy cases.
We'd hear rumors for weeks that a number of area folks were considering buying the Bing Crosby Theater, a major part of entertainment history in downtown Spokane.
We got the word earlier on Thursday that the deal was done; local property developer Gerry Dicker put together a package and signed the deal recently. We reported that on Spokesman.com earlier.
Here's a 1951 photo that shows what the building, at the corner of Lincoln and Sprague, looked like. At the time, it was the State Theater, having gone through a few changes after starting life in 1915 as the Clemmer.
Dicker said he'll maintain the building as a theater and keep the Bing Crosby name.
Photo source: The Spokesman-Review
Looking for some insights into Spokane or North Idaho area manufacturers? Care to get close to metal casting?
LA Aluminum Castings, in Hayden Lake, is hosting an open house this evening, starting at 6 p.m.
This is slated as a Signature Plant Tour, part of an ongoing series of events to showcase area companies, hosted by the Spokane Chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Inland Empire Chapter of the American Society of Metals.
LA Aluminum Castings does aluminum castings; the tour will look at its tooling, casting, mold alteration, powder coating and assembly operations.
To invite colleagues to the free networking event or to sign up, go to http://smefebruarylacasting.eventbrite.com.
Let's do a daily-double, compliments of Itron Inc. Yesterday we mentioned its role in a smart grid test back in the Northeast and we published its year-end earnings report here.
Today it's about its Smart Meters and other efforts to make them a bit smarter.
Itron announced it's spending $100 million to acquire a Mississippi tech company, SmartSynch.
The key detail is that SmartSynch has done a solid job of using existing cellular communications into utility networks. As utilities develop reliable networks that move data back and forth, from customers to distribution centers, the need for consistent and affordable communications becomes central.
SmartSynch does that. Here's a summary from SmartSynch.com about how its system works with smart meters: “SmartSynch's SmartMeter System facilitates two-way wireless communication with each meter, making continuously updated information available to utilities and their customers. All components of the SmartMeter are encased under the glass of the meter.”
Itron has used wireless connectivity to its meters for years. We need to ask: what does SmartSynch offer that's $100 million better than the system Itron has been using?
And as the second half of today's deal: Here is a video that shows how Itron's South Carolina company makes the OpenWay meter, Itron's workhorse smart meter.
Source: this video was produced by the Discovery Channel for it's How It's Made TV series.
On Wednesday, as Itron reported mixed earnings, the Liberty Lake utility technology maker and service provider also announced it's taking part in an East Coast smart grid demonstration project.
Itron and National Grid, a northeast U.S. utitlity, announced they will be partners on a project to build and evaluate advanced smart grid systems in Massachusetts.
Here's where the geeky tech stuff shows up in the story: the two firms will field-test the multi-application capabilities of the new Itron-Cisco IPv6 based smart grid solution, including advanced metering, home area networking (HAN) and distribution automation (DA). That “stuff” is the typical and more or less standard set of tools the smart grid depends on.
OK, then, what's the key news here? The press report says the system will use Cisco technology that allows a utility to exchange information with its residential and business customers without requiring them to all use just one proprietary set of equipment or applications.
As designed, that makes the smart grid more open-standards based, sort of like the way the Web is designed.
It's a big deal because this allows an electric utility do have a grid system across a diverse set of customers, including large industrial customers, or when dealing with a dispersed group of home customers, some of whom may be using different home metering products than others across the utility map are using.
If you really want all the other details, here's the official Itron release.
Itron and Cisco not long ago announced they had a similar deal for BC Hydro, one of Canada's largest electric utilities. Here's a summary of the project being done in British Columbia.
Spokane's Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery is among the possible winners in a contest started by national retailer Shopko.
Called “Choose the Charity,” the contest will run through March 12 and allows Facebook users to cast votes for a favorite charity. The winning charity will receive a $10,000 donation, organizers said.
Shopko's Facebook page is www.facebook.com/shopko. The winner will be announced on March 13.
In addition to Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, other eligible charities on the Facebook page ballot are:
Those were selected, a Shopko press release said, based on high quality of services that they provide, the strong support that they enjoy in their communities, and track records of proven results.
Employee health and wellness will be discussed at this year’s Future of Health Care program, Thursday morning in Spokane.
Presented by Greater Spokane Incorporated and the Journal of Business, the program runs from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at The Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St.
Speakers are Donna Steward, government affairs director for the Association of Washington Business; Dr. Kyle Dosch, dental consultant, Washington Dental Service; Mark Patrick, managing partner, Moloney+O’Neill Benefits; and Elisabeth Buchman, director of product development for wellness and ancillary products, Group Health Cooperative.
The discussion will focus on factors businesses should consider around employee health and wellness, such as the impact on their budgets and their ability to attract and retain new talent.
Cost is $30. Information: http://events.greaterspokane.org
Idaho employers reversed an eight-year decline in workplace health care coverage in 2011, despite the financial pressures of coming out of the worst recession since World War II.
Percent of Idaho Employers Offering Health Coverage to Full-Time Workers
The Idaho Department of Labor’s 2011 Fringe Benefit Survey found 66 percent of employers offered individual health insurance to full-time workers and 61 percent offered coverage to the families of those workers, the agency said today. That is 10 percentage points higher than the 2009 survey findings for worker coverage and eight points higher for family coverage.
But while the totals showed an end to the decline in workplace health care coverage, the totals fall short of 2002, when 82 percent of employers said they provided worker coverage and 62 percent family coverage.
Coverage offered to part-time workers was essentially unchanged from 2009 at 10 percent to 11 percent.
More than 900 randomly selected employers responded to the survey, conducted last August and September. The results on a statewide basis have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The survey found similar increases in the percentage of employers offering dental coverage to their workers, but there was little change in the availability to workers of pension plans or paid leave in the form of vacation, sick days or holidays.
The overall increase in the availability of health insurance in the workplace was seen among all payroll sizes from employers with fewer than 10 workers to those with more than 250.
There are some tax rules exclusive to the military, and the IRS wants to remind active duty and reserves of them so they can maximize their returns:
Moving expenses: active-duty military can deduct “reasonable, unreimbursed” moving expenses incurred because of a change of station.
Combat pay: Monthly pay for enlisted persons and warrant officers is untaxed if they served in a combat zone that month.
Travel to reserve duty: Members of the Reserves can deduct unreimbursed travel expenses for traveling more than 100 miles from home to perform reserve duties.
For a full list of military tax tips, visit http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=210896,00.html
BOISE — With the 2012 session half over, opposition from the Legislature’s conservatives has all but ended Gov. Butch Otter’s plan for using a $20.3 million federal grant for a state-run insurance exchange required by Congress’ health care overhaul.
Discussions between legislators, Otter and the insurance industry have shifted toward a state-run exchange created without federal money, but that’s sufficient to reassure U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials Idaho isn’t ignoring them, The Associated Press reports.
This approach walks a thin line between practical and political considerations: Doing enough to keep Washington, D.C., bureaucrats from imposing a federal exchange on Idaho, while letting “Obamacare”-loathing legislators tell constituents they didn’t bend to the hated federal government.
Democrats fear spurning the federal cash is tantamount to Idaho cutting off its nose to spite its face.
A week ago we ran out some numbers on the increasing number of home sales in Spokane County. The trend here is an increase number of sales, especially over the final six months of 2011 and continuing in January.
But average and median home sales continued to fall, compared with one year earlier. The reason, as stated by Rob Higgins of the Spokane Association of Realtors, is the large supply of distressed properties still being moved off the market.
So we will here offer a statewide view: Washington’s housing market in the final quarter of 2011 saw the highest seasonally-adjusted sales since the second quarter of 2010, according to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.
Sales strength reflected bargain hunting as well as the persistently large number of distressed properties being sold in lower-priced neighborhoods, said Glenn Crellin, associate director of the Runstad Center.
Statewide the seasonally adjusted sales rate during the quarter was 91,080 homes, meaning that if the relative sales rate for the quarter were continued for a year, that number of homes would be sold. The rate is 6 percent above the prior quarter and 9.6 percent higher than the closing quarter of 2010, when tax credit programs to stimulate housing demand were ending.
Just like in Spokane, statewide sales prices continued dropping. Median home prices continued to reflect the weak economy, Crellin said. The statewide median home price was $219,700, the lowest fourth-quarter price since 2003 when the median was $205,700.
That median home sale price declined 8 percent between the end of 2010 ($238,800) and the end of 2011.
Sales, median home prices and affordability data for each of Washington’s 39 counties are available at the Runstad website.
Greater Spokane Incorporated is hosting an event it calls Connect with the Elect. It's a morning questio-answer session with new folks on the Spokane City Council, including Mike Allen, Steve Salvatori and Council President Ben Stuckart.
It's Feb. 29 from 8 to 9:15 a.m. at the GSI building, 810 W. Riverside Ave.
To reserve a spot click RSVP.
For some reason we still have more to say about the plight of Mary Livingston, owner of the 1305 Club, once known as the Bulldog (Tavern).
The curious little sidelight to Livingston's effort to find a lasting name for the tavern is the distraction caused by a wall mural for the business. Livingston said the mural was commissioned by previous building owner, Willard Quinn. And the result (above, right image) was done by Spokane artist Tom Quinn (no relation to Willard).
Two sections of Quinn's wall mural at the business will not remain or have already been removed. The first is the curious portrait of a bulldog with a top hat (above, left image) that was on the wall for awhile, then removed.
Livingston said no one asked her to take it down. Cryptically, Livingston said it was something she just wanted covered over, but didn't specify the reason.
The second is an attempted portrait of GU basketball hall-of-famer John Stockton. See the item down below to see what happened with that part of the mural.
Quinn said he'll be working the wall this weekend and will likely “fix” the Stockton portrait.
Both images, above, provided from Tom Quinn's Facebook page.
Two leftovers from today's SR story about the naming dilemma faced by Mary Livingston, the business woman who took over what used to be the premise of the Bulldog, near Gonzaga University.
First, let's catch up on David Trefry, who ran the Bulldog from 1996 until last summer, when the building owner Willard Quinn III wouldn't give him a good deal on buying it. Quinn then turned around and sold it to Livingston.
Trefry took the business name and has been looking around for spots, including possibly in the new Kendall Yards project. He also caused a minor stir when he renewed his business license with the city. The permit said: The Bulldog Tavern. That alerted some folks who knew that originally the business, well before Trefry took it over, was known as the Bulldog Tavern.
He changed the name in 2005, to comply with state liquor law requirements. Trefry said people wondered if he was reverting to the old name. The answer is no, he said in an email. The permit is still for The Bulldog, but city clerks used the wrong name.
The second item: Livingston was told by Willard Quinn III that John Stockton wasn't happy that his portrait was part of a mural painted by local artist Tom Quinn (no relation to Willard). The oddity is the Tom Quinn portrait of Stockton on the wall (see image above, where it is to the right of Livingston) has to be the worst ever of the former GU and Utah Jazz star.
Quinn the artist said he sorta winged it, not really knowing how large Stockton is. That explains why he made JS about 6 foot 7. But it doesn't explain how the face is so un-Stockton like. That may be why JS doesn't like it. The face is nowhere near that of Stockton, even from 20 years ago.
We asked a contact to ask Stockton for a statement, but heard nothing so far.
Tom Quinn said he now realizes he can't leave the “Stockton” image on the wall. He figures he'll probably change that body into the shape of former GU hoop star Casey Calvary.
A few days ago, before the story ran, Tom Quinn said he was planning to do a better Stockton image on the other end of that mural. Now that Stockton has made it clear he's not happy with the plan, that won't happen.
Spokane's Beacon Cleaners & Laundry and the Spokane County Commute Trip Reduction program were recognized for clean-air efforts this week by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.
The awards are part of the agency's Clean Air Award program, which recognizes efforts by businesses to reduce air emissions.
Beacon Cleaners & Laundry was cited for installing technology that has led to it being designated as the only EnviroStars certified dry cleaner in Spokane County.
Spokane County's Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) office was chosen for the inaugural Clean Air Champion Award. The new award recognizes outstanding contributions resulting in clean air programs, increased public understanding or new policies to improve air quality.
Spokane County's CTR program has said it has eliminated nearly 6,400 vehicle trips each day in Spokane County.
Spokane resident Brett Noyes, in the course of trying to start a business, came upon the Startup Weekend idea. Based in Seattle, the Startupweekend.org organization encourages communities to host these three-day weekends to encourage and foster people trying to start a new business.
Noyes liked the idea enough to agree to be the sponsor and presenter of Spokane's first stab at a Startup Weekend. It will run April 20-22 at Gonzaga University.
The event formula is to start with a series of one-minute pitches by would-be local entrpreneurs.
A panel will select a number of the best pitches to move to the next level. The attendees then are grouped into teams to work together during the next two days creating a viable business idea and brainstorming how to make the idea succeed.
A weekend facilitator will be provided by the StartupWeekend group, Noyes said. A number of other guest presenters will serve as coaches through the three days of sessions.
The goal, he added,is bringing together the Spokane area's well-qualified, dedicated business managers, developers, IT specialists and consultants. said many people starting a business struggle to find the right colleagues and partners who can make a business concept strong enough to succeed.
Information is at Spokane.StartupWeekend.org. Registration before April 1 is $55. After April 1 it wil be $75.
The people who track such things estimate next week's U.S. Olympics women's boxing team trials, to be held at the Northern Quest in Airway Heights, will add about $750,000 to the local economy.
Nearly all of that will be from money spent on food, lodging and other services by people coming to the area. A story in the SR today gives a full rundown.
For a quick summary of the event and a chance to learn about the 24 athletes who will compete, check out this link from USA Boxing: usaboxing.org/events/9250
We found one wheat-related business in Spokane eager to take part in a proposed ag-themed development in Ritzville, located about 60 miles west of Spokane.
That business is Dry Fly Distilling, one of the state's best-regarded craft distillers. The Dry Fly people have been using area grains in all their spirits, including an all-wheat whiskey released last year.
Ritzville residents have concluded it's better to love the freeway than hate it. This story in today's SR sums up the effort, which includes work done for Ritzville by WSU Spokane design students.
A footnote that didn't make it into today's story. After this year, the entire design program at WSU Spokane will be moved to Pullman. Officials say the decision is budget-based.
The major regional business story on Friday is the fatal plane crash that took the life of Micron CEO Steve Appleton.
The photo here is an archive photo from 2005 showing Appleton in the hangar with a plane described as a stunt jet. The news service name for the photo was “Daredevil CEO.”
As a younger business reporter, I met Appleton when the Review produced a four-part series on how Boise became a technology hub. Appleton was a good interview.
Legislation that would exempt new Washington-based businesses from the state's B&O tax in their first year of operations has cleared a key Senate committee.
Senate Bill 6327, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, advanced with a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Economic Development, Trade and Innovation Committee. It's now waiting for consideration by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Under the measure, news businesses with fewer than 25 employees would enjoy the exemption for two years, plus a 50 percent reduction on their B&O tax bill in their third year of operations.“This measure would make it clear to entrepreneurs inside and outside of the state that legislators want our small-business employers to succeed and that Washington is open for business,” said Padden.
Legislative analysts predict the exemption would cost the state about $2.9 million in lost tax revenue in 2013 and $10.6 million in 2014.
The state's business-and-occupation tax, often called a gross-receipts tax, is heavily criticized on both sides of the partisan aisle because it targets gross revenue rather than profits. The rate differs by industry but all companies are given an exemption on their first $250,000 in revenue each year.
Padden and other backers argue that giving new companies a break could help business startups survive those critical first years in Washington, which currently has the nation's second-highest rate of startup failure.
Spokane ad agency Magner Sanborn is ready for its second shot at Super Bowl advertising fame. This year’s game will include a 60-second spot built around the the secret life of shopping carts.
Two years ago the firm developed three spots for a short-lived new technology product, Flo Tv.
This year’s spot, which will run just before kickoff at 3:30 p.m., is a commercial for Yoke’s Fresh Markets, one of Magner Sanborn’s longstanding clients.
Dennis Magner, one of the firm’s principals, declined to offer too many details about the project.
“I'd describe it as, ‘eye-opening.’ It’s a revealing look at why shopping carts do what they do,” he said.
The Flo TV ad was shot for a national company and landed in prime Super Bowl slots.
The Yoke’s ad is set for a local time slot made available by KHQ, the Spokane NBC affiliate.
Magner and company partner Jeff Sanborn developed the concept on their own late Monday while working at the firm’s downtown office.
The idea is meant to be catchy and slightly offbeat. No human faces are show, but there is music and voice-over narrative.
Magner and Sanborn contacted Yoke’s the next day and got the green light. They made a call to KHQ and grabbed one spot that was still available.
The spot was shot at exterior locations Wednesday and Thursday. Magner said the goal is a high-level, national-quality ad that gets across a fun message.
Once it airs, the ad will get posted to YouTube and Vimeo. Yoke’s site will also likely feature the spot, said Magner.
The spot will also be used on local broadcasts beyond Sunday, Magner said
Spokane's City Council is likely next week to vote on a resolution about the Jensen-Byrd Building, being sold by WSU to a Texas firm, Campus Advantage.
The old building, once a central warehouse along the city's main rail yard, has become a cherished icon for historic preservation advocates. They view the plan by Campus Advantage to demolish the building as short-sighted.
Campus Advantage has said it has looked at restoring the building but has concluded the structure is not easily and affordably convertible to a modern student housing complex, which is the plan for the Jensen-Byrd.
While the council is free to pass any resolution it wants, it doesn't have final say on what happens. According to the city's laws, Campus Advantage can apply for a demolition permit if its shows it will build a similar building in the same spot.
The request by Campus Advantage to move forward with demolition would have to go through the city's building department.
The council's resolution, as currently worded, urges WSU and Campus Advantage to reconsider the plan and look for ways to either build a high-density student apartment complex elsewhere. Or review the demolition option.
KHQ TV station management and Dish Network have signed a new deal that ends the possible blackout of Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast for satellite subscribers.
The previous contract ended at midnight last night, with the two sides at odds until Tuesday afternoon.
The two sides agreed sometime before 10 p.m.
“The good news is that our signal will remain on the Dish Network and no viewers will miss the Super Bowl,” said Patricia McRea, KHQ General Manager. KHQ is owned and operated by Cowles California Media Co., which is a subsidiary of Cowles Co.
Cowles Co. owns and operates The Spokesman-Review and Spokesman.com.
McRea said details of the new contract are confidential. The contract covers among other things the retransmission fee Dish pays to the company for carrying its signal to viewers in the large Spokane TV market, which stretches into Idaho, southeast Washington and central Washington.
“May” being the operative word — but it got your attention.
The IRS is launching a big push to make sure people know about the earned income tax credit. It's one of the sweetest tax deals around, because it's refundable, meaning the IRS could be in the position of sending you money.
Some 426,000 Washington state taxpayers used the tax credit last year, but the IRS estimates one in five of taxpayers eligible don't use the credit because they don't know about it.
The income limit to qualify starts at $13,660 for a single person with no kids, and tops out at $49,078 for a married couple who files jointly and has three or more kids.
Couple of things to keep in mind: the tax credit doesn't affect welfare benefits. And in most cases, any payment you get won't count against you in determining eligibility for Medicaid, SSI, food stamps, low-income housing or TANF payments.
How do you get it? You have to file a tax return. The IRS has a worksheet to see whether you qualify and for how much; you can find Publication 596 on the IRS website here.There are also thousands of places you can get free tax preparation through the VITA program. Call 1-800-906-9887 for a list.
Costco spent bundles last year getting state voters to change the way liquor is sold in Washington.
Now it's trying to make back some of the money by selling Super Bowl tickets.
We spotted an item saying tickets to the big game are on sale at Costco.com, priced at $2,999.99. That price includes a pre-game funciton with Archie Manning, dad of NY Giants QB Eli Manning.
In addition, Costco was selling two-ticket packages at $9,999.99 and $15,499.99 that include four nights at a luxurious Indianapolis hotel, admission to a pregame party and admisision to a wine and food event.
Those package tickets are sold out, as of Wednesday, 9 a.m., Feb. 1.
The $2,999 tickets apparently are still available.