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Office Hours

Archive for January 2012

Will area football fans using Dish Network miss out on the Super Bowl?

UPDATED FEB. 1, 1:30 p.m.:  

The two sides have ended the contract impasse and have signed a new retransmission contract. See more recent posts on Office Hours for details.

By early Wednesday morning a number of Dish Network TV subscribers may be seeing nothing on the channel normally carrying KHQ.

A negotiation of a new multiyear contract between KHQ's parent company and Dish has stalled. The contract reportedly ends at midnight on Jan. 31. As happened with DirecTV and Fox affilliate KAYU exactly one year ago, the dispute over money could lead to a blackout for Dish subscribers just before Sunday's Super Bowl.

It would have no effect on cable subscribers, those using DirecTV or getting their signals over-the-air or from another cable service.

The contract covers retransmission fees paid by the satellite company to the affiliate station management.  Dish and KHQ's parent company — Cowles California Media Co., in this case — have not been able to agree on the annual fee oaid by Dish. The fee in large part is based on the number of subscribers Dish has within that station's market area.

Last year Fox carried the Super Bowl. This year it's NBC, and KHQ is the NBC affiliate in this market.

As happened during the KAYU blackout, area TV fans can prepare themselves by finding alternatives. Dish subscribers who have line rabbit-ears antennas might be able to pull the signal over the air.

But residents with spotty reception or none at all will have to figure out another option.

The Dish Network folks emailed this comment to us: “Dish Network's lengthy negotiations with Cowles California Media Co., the owner of KHQ in Spokane, remain ongoing; but so far they have not resulted in an agreement. Without an agreement from Cowles, Dish would no longer have the legal right to provide KHQ's NBC programming — along with the Super Bowl — to Dish customers.
 
“Essentially, Cowles is holding the Super Bowl hostage while it demands an outrageous rate increase of more than 250 percent. We hope to have an agreement before access to this channel is interrupted, but so far Cowles has been unreasonable in its negotiations.”
 
A KHQ manager declined to comment, saying the negotiations are ongoing and confidential.
 
KHQ is owned by a company that is a subsidiary of Cowles Co, which also operates The Spokesman-Review and Spokesman.com.

Word leaks out: Spokane’s Marshalls store to open in March at NorthTown

Last year people at NorthTown Mall noted that Marshalls, a popular women's clothing retailer, will move there this year. Our previous story said Marshalls will go into the spot vacated by the Nordstrom Rack.

We've been contacted by a spokesperson from the company, saying it will open the store in Spokane in March. This will be the first Marshalls in the Spokane area. 

The company is remodeling the 25,000-square foot location, spending about $700,000. The parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx is TJX Companies of Framingham, Mass.

Photo:  Seattle's Marshalls store at Southcenter.

Job Fair sponsored by the Spokane Tribe offers interviews on first-come basis

The two-day job fair promoted by the Spokane Tribe runs today and Wednesday at Spokane's WorkSource office. The interviews will be conducted on a first-come basis.

Here are the hours: 9 a.m.-noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. See the post below this one for additiaonal information.

Spokane Tribe helping host a job fair this week to fill jobs at its new Arby’s


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Preparing to open a new Arby's restaurant near Airway Heights, the Spokane Tribe is hosting a Job Fair Tuesday and Wednesday at the Spokane downtown WorkSource office, 130 S. Arthur.

The tribe plans to open the new restaurant in March. It will be next to the tribe's Spoko Fuel station off Highway 2.
 
A press release said the tribe intends to hire 35 to 40 new workers in the next few weeks.  For information about the Job Fair, contact Spokane WorkSource at 509 532-3038.

Spokane’s Mountain Gear receives sustainable retailer of the year award

Spokane's Mountain Gear has been named the Sustainable Retailer of the year at the 2012 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show, held in Salt Lake.

The award honors outdoor retailers who embody solid entrepreneurship and work on behalf of the community.

“This award honors exemplary retailers and sets a bar for all other retailers to achieve, with the ultimate goal of establishing a standard for specialty retail excellence nationwide,” SNEWS President Michael Hodgson said.

Mountain Gear President Paul Fish took the challenge of a reduced footprint when he decided to relocate the corporate offices and distribution center to a new building, a former manufacturing facility.

Using LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines, Mountain Gear conducted an extensive renovation to install skylights, windows, energy management systems, and drought-tolerant landscaping. Much of the project used reused and recycled materials. Low-flow plumbing, energy-efficient lighting and filtered water.
 
The company also actively promotes transportation options, including a bike purchase program that has helped many company workers to choose to bike instead of drive to work.

How many craft distilleries are there in Washington state?

We hear that the state of Washington has gone from one craft distillery a few years ago (based in Spokane), to more than 20 in production today.  See the post below for the connection.

We'll take on the challenge of verifying that number and trying to list the full names of those craft distillers.

Anyone having names or suggestions, leave them here as a comment. Thanks.

Washington looking at allowing craft distilleries to sell at farmers markets

This may be the year Washington legislators give a thumbs-up to the idea of craft distilleries selling booze at farmers' markets.

Until recently, Washington had just one craft distillery, Dry Fly Distilling, of Spokane. That number has grown in recent years. With the growth has come the desire by those companies to use farmers' markets to reach more customers. Wineries and beer brewers are already allowed to sell at markets.

The current bill working its way through the current legislature is SB5650.  It authorizes licensed craft distilleries to apply to the liquor control board for an endorsement to sell their own bottled spirits markets.

The spirits must be produced in the state of Washington in order to be sold at markets.

The step in the process is a public hearing on the bill on Tuesday (Jan.31) before the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce and Consumer Protection. The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. in Olympia in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the Cherberg Building.

For more information on the bill, here's the legislative history and summary.

Amazon cloud services underlines its relationship with Liberty Lake’s IT-Lifeline

Liberty Lake-based IT-Lifeline is living in the cloud fast lane, or at least in the Amazon Web Services segment of the cloud fast lane.

Amazon recently sent out a detailed and clogged-with-jargon release about its AWS Cloud Gateway. If you dare to decipher the text of this release, put on your geek goggles and go for it:  We did and it nearly caused a slipped disk:

“With the AWS Storage Gateway, we’re providing businesses yet another way to easily take advantage of AWS’s secure, scalable and cost-effective cloud storage for use with their on-premises applications,” said a company person.  

“The AWS Storage Gateway works with your existing applications using a standard iSCSI interface, securely transfers your data to AWS over SSL, and stores data encrypted at rest in Amazon S3.”

The AWS Storage Gateway also makes it easy to leverage the on-demand compute capacity of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for additional capacity during peak periods, for new projects, or as a more cost-effective way to run normal enterprise workloads. To take advantage of this compute capacity, enterprises can mirror on-premises data to Amazon EC2 instances by using the AWS Storage Gateway to upload the data to Amazon S3 in the form of Amazon EBS snapshots. Amazon EBS volumes can easily be created from these snapshots (using either the AWS Management Console or Amazon EC2’s APIs) and attached to Amazon EC2 compute instances.”

And then it mentions IT-Lifeline:

“IT-Lifeline provides data vaulting and disaster recovery services to regulated industries such as banking and healthcare organizations. “We look forward to using the AWS Storage Gateway ourselves, as well as integrating it into our BLACKCLOUD service for our customers,” said Matthew Gerber, CEO at IT-Lifeline. “With this capability, our customers and our company can take advantage of simplified data vaulting and practically infinite elasticity for disaster recovery needs.”

Personally, the release seems to use about 200 more words to get the point across. Which is: Cloud services save money and simplify IT operations and management.

As for the IT-Lifeline connection, that's very nice. The release establishes that Amazon regards IT-Lifeline as a primary partner that provides backup and recovery services for customers using Amazon's growing catalog of cloud computing.

That's a feather in their hat. 

Servatron moving from Sullivan Road location to Mirabeau building built by Itronix

After a bumpy 2010 and 2011, Spokane Valley contract manufacturing firm Servatron Inc. hopes to boost annual sales to the $30 million mark, in part by moving to a newer building this spring.

The company will move into about 50,000 square feet of the former Itronix building at 12825 E. Mirabeau Parkway. It’s been at its current site, near the Spokane Business & Industrial Park, since 2000 when it was spun out of Itron as a specialty contract manufacturer.

Company President Tod Byers said that privately held Servatron hasn’t had a loss during its 12 years in business. But its current building — roughly the same size as the Mirabeau facility — has fewer advantages than the new site, Byers said.

“The new location just shows better,” Byers said. Winning new contracts depends in part on good impressions when prospective customers make visits to Spokane. Itronix, which made rugged computers, occupied the building from 2005 to 2009.

Servatron expects to move in by the end of March.

Servatron’s headcount is about 190, down some from 230 in the peak years in 2007 and 2008.

Ibex Flooring moving to much larger offices in February


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Ibex Flooring will move from its current spot, at 702 N. Helena, to its new offices at 2925 N. Martin.

Owners Ashli and Nathan Myers are buying the 10,000-square-foot building, which roughly doubles the space they have now.

The move is expected to be finished by late February. The company provides commercial flooring, including ceramic tile and carpet.

The purchase was brokered by NAI Blacks’ Chris Bell, representing U.S. Bank, which owned the building, and Dick and Kevin Edwards of Hawkins Edwards, representing the Myers.

Spokane Old Country Buffet restaurants close in Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The last two Spokane Old Country Buffet restaurants have closed as part of the parent company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

The company last week announced it will probably close up to 81 underperforming locations. The two Spokane locations were at 12205 E. Sprague and at 5504 N. Division. They were shut last week, with no plans to reopen, said a spokesperson.

Buffets, Inc., the head company, has operated close to 500 restaurants nationwide. It's based in Minnesota. 

Its bankruptcy documents state plans to eliminate about $245 million in debt.

Here's a link to some of the financials involved. 

The vacancy in the Valley is next to the open 10,000-square foot space last used by a Jo-Ann Fabric store.

Brokering that office space is Carl Guenzel of Kiemle & Hagood. Guenzel said he thinks now that the right tenant can work with both spaces which together equal about  25,000 square feet of good retail space. You check in with Guenzel on that possible space, he's at 755-7543. 

Storm didn’t stop Spokane flights. It was just Seattle and freezing rain there

Some photos from the ice and snow storm that shut down Sea-Tac airport this week demonstrate why winter can bring a major transportation hub to a halt.

The lower photo, provided via the Cliff Mass weather blog, shows icicles forming on the underside of Alaska Airlines planes. That's a good sign that trying to fly in such weather isn't advised.

The top photo, taken at one of the airport's outdoor seating areas, also shows the extent of the wintry onslaught. 

Spokane had it pretty fair by comparison. No Spokane flights — other than to and from Seattle — in were affected by the week's snowfall, said airport spokesman Todd Woodard.

Sun People Dry Goods sponsoring Saturday’s Natural Health Fair downtown


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Sun People Dry Goods Co. is hosting its second annual Natural Health Fair on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the shared entryway to Sun People Dry Goods Co. and the Spokane Public Market. That's at 32 W. Second, downtown.

“Spokane has a strong and growing natural and preventive health sector. Our aim is to help them promote the great and varied work they are providing to our community.” says Juliet Sinisterra, Sun People's co-Owner and general manager.

The fair is a free and allows visitors to engage with area practitioniers and advocates of nutrition, yoga, massage and naturopathic medicine.
 
Representatives on hand will be from Stevens Naturopathic, Harmony Yoga, Yoga Shala, Isol Edwards on raw on and living foods, Rinzen Shay Kruger and Mariah Neeson on massage.
 

Washington jobless rate drops again, but so does number of jobs

OLYMPIA – December’s labor statistics from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics once again produced conflicting data about what’s happening in Washington’s economy.

According to the bureau’s monthly survey of Washington households, the estimated unemployment rate dropped from 8.7 percent in November to 8.5 percent in December. This was the lowest since February 2009, when the unemployment rate was 8.3 percent.  

At the same time, a survey of Washington businesses showed an estimated job loss of 10,700 from November to December.

“There is a lot of volatility in the numbers we get from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and one month of numbers isn’t enough to gauge what’s happening in the job market,” said Greg Weeks, who heads the labor-market information office at the state Employment Security Department. “If you look at the trend over time, jobs are gradually increasing and the unemployment rate is coming down.”

Industry sectors that had the most job growth in December were education and health services, up an estimated 2,200 jobs; manufacturing, up 2,100, including 1,100 in aerospace; and the transportation, warehousing and utilities sector, up 500 jobs.

Idaho unemployment falls for 5th straight month

BOISE — The Idaho Department of Labor says the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December fell to 8.4 percent, the lowest level since September 2009.

The state’s unemployment rate has dropped for five straight months, and fell from 8.5 percent in November. The national unemployment rate for December was 8.5 percent, the Associated Press reported today.

The Labor Department says over 698,000 Idahoans were working in December — 13,000 more than in December 2010 — and the largest total since March 2009.  

Unemployment benefit payments totaled $31.5 million to 32,000 jobless workers in December. That total is 25 percent less than the $41.8 million paid to over 39,900 unemployed workers in December 2010, when the unemployment rate stood at 9.7 percent.

Schweitzer lands at No. 97 on Fortune’s list of 100 best companies to work for

Ok, you're not working for Google and you're probably not upper management at Starbucks. But if you work for Pullman-based Schweitzer Engineering Labs, you have something to be proud of; the privately held firm is ranked No. 97 among Fortune's Best Companies to Work For.

The list has just been released.  Google ranks No. 1. REI Equipment ranks No. 8; Nordstrom scores the No. 61 ranking. And Starbucks comes in at No. 73.

The other impressive piece of information: Schweitzer, which makes relay devices and networking components for the electrical generation and distribution industry, is among the fastest-growing firms on the basis of jobs added.

SEL has a 27 percent job growth. Only four companies on the top 100 list have a faster job-growth rate, based on the numbers used by Fortune.

Notably, the biggest job-gainer is Zappos, reporting a 70 percent job gain since last year.

One third of our survey-takers said they’ll spend more at Starbucks during 2012

The unofficial results are in: one third of the respondents to our Starbucks budget survey said they expect to spend more there this year.

Five of 16 respondents said yes, and you can see the other responses for yourself right here.

Thanks to those who helped answer the survey.  Gotta leave for now, I'm off for my morning cup …

Hagadone Marine launches 15-day show and sales event in CDA

Hagadone Marine Group will open the doors Saturday for its newest boat event, the 15-day Coeur d’Alene Boat Show and Sales Event.

It runs through Feb. 5 at the Hagadone Marine Group showroom and its 11,000-square foot service center, on Blackwell Island near the Cedars Floating Restaurant.

The show will feature 75 boats, including 2012 designs.

Having the event on the island allows enthusiasts to schedule test-drives before buying a boat, organizers said.

The show is free and open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
  

Area businesses getting ‘BBB’ messages that contain malicious web links

Spokane-area and North Idaho businesses were sent a warning today by the local Better Business Bureau about spam messages supposedly sent from the BBB.

The email scam reportedly sends out a message with the words “BBB case # 216145442347.” The message includes the BBB's “Start With Trust” image in the header.

The mail includes a link and if clicked, can cause computer problems.

A release sent out on Wednesday said one area business clicked the link and lost a hard drive.

The offending messages include a link that appears to be www.bbb.org; Chelsea Dannen, the BBB's social media director, said this is not from the BBB and is a scam.

Those getting those messages should forward them to phishing@council.bbb.org so that the exact source of the email can be tracked.

For questions, contact the BBB through  the member line at 1-800-248-2356 or email AB@spokane.bbb.org.   
  

Doug Holroyd named new GM of FOX stations in Spokane, Yakima, Tri-Cities

Northwest Broadcasting, which operates FOX affiliates in the region, has named Doug Holroyd as GM of KAYU in Spokane, KCYU in Yakima and KFFX in Tri-Cities.

Holroyd comes to Northwest Broadcasting from Sainte Partners II L.P. in Modesto, Calif., where he was general manager of 13 television stations.  In addition, Doug was in charge of corporate acquisitions and oversaw the building, launch and growth of six stations.
 
A press release also noted Holroyd grew up in the music industry and is an accomplished guitarist, and has performed  throughout the western United States.

The buzz: Starbucks coffee cards are a solid bottom-line pick me up

WHAT'S YOUR STARBUCKS BUDGET? ANSWER THE SURVEY BELOW

For much of the past three years, the Office Hours staff has made its daily visits to the local Starbucks store, plunking down cash for java and pastry. Sometimes the experience is more about meeting folks from area businesses, rather than the Joe.

The Wall Street Journal's story Tuesday on Starbucks highlights the chain's surprising growth in amount of money spent via card-based purchases. A key statement:

“Last year, purchases made on the (Starbucks) cards accounted for 18 percent of the company's revenue. Starbucks doesn't split the transactions by country, but assuming purchases were almost all in the United States, they accounted for 27 percent of domestic retail sales. That compares with 13 percent in 2006.”

What could be driving that growth, especially as the company has been steadily increasing the costs of its drinks the past four years?  Please take this informal survey below. (Click SUBMIT after checking your answer.)

 

Washington Policy Center launches series of Wake-Up breakfasts with legislators

The Legislature's current session will likely make some major decisions that affect Washington state businesses. The Washington Policy Center, an advocacy group largely focused on limiting government regulations, is hosting a series of information sessions to call attention to the key issues.

Each session will be a videoconference with a group of state legislators who want citizens to keep track of the key state issues.

Here's the schedule for the Wake-Up Call forums. They start usually at 7 a.m:

To RSVP for the breakfasts, contact Chris Cargill at 509 570-2384. Or email wakeupcall@washingtonpolicy.org.  For information, go to  Wake Up Call Coffee.

 

Comcast will offer bundled services with Verizon Wireless in Seattle, Portland

Customers in Portland and Seatle will be the first to try out a joint marketing effort between Verizon and Comcast.  

The companies announced Monday that Comcast will sell wireless bundles for cable customers looking to buy a new smartphone or add a new phone and data plan. The companies said they expect to roll out the deal to other cities later.

The initial Comcast promotion will provide a prepaid Visa card, up to $300 in value, for customers who sign up for the Verizon-Comcast bundled service. A press release said there are some restrictions: to qualify a customer must be signing up for a new Xfinity Double Play or Triple Play package.

And the customer must be a new Verizon Wireless customer purchasing a qualifying smartphone or tablet data plan; or an existing Verizon Wireless customer adding a new line of service or upgrading their service with a new smartphone or tablet, both with a new two-year customer agreement.

Customers will receive the prepaid Visa cards by mail.

Details are here:  www.comcast.com/wireless.  

Maverik’s first area store opens in Mead, with more to come likely

The first area Maverik convenience store-service station has opened at 4206 E. Day Mt. Spokane Road in Mead. The company is hosting an open house there on Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 5-8 p.m.

The 4,200-square-foot store sells beverages, foods, snacks and deli offerings.

Maverik, Inc. has more than 200 locations across the West in  Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. The home base is Salt Lake.

Accoding to an overview found at Yahoo, the chain takes it name from the comedy-western “Maverick” TV series starring James Garner that aired in the late 1950s and early 60s.

The company is run by the third generation of the Call family and was founded by the late Reuel T. Call, who got into the petroleum business in the 1920s.

Love crepes? A new downtown creperie is calling your name, will open in June

Judie and Ryan Sowards are leasing a downtown Spokane storefront for a new Euro-styled creperie called Beignets, in the Crescent Building, at 707 W. Main.

The mother-son team believes Spokane foodies are ready for a place that full-service business that serves thin, French-inspired crepes and other lunch and dinner items. They plan to open the business in June.

Ryan Sowards said the name is meant to convey atmosphere and variety. Diners will be served fresh beignets — deep-fried pastries — before the entree, he said.

They’re leasing 3,800 square feet at in the back side of the building, directly behind Madeleine’s Cafe. It’s The Sowards are taking the space once used by Cucina, Cucina.

They plan to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Stephen Pohl and Jon Jeffreys represented property owner Red Tail LLC. Chris Bell represented the Sowards. All three work with NAI Bla

Final call: Globe Bar and Grille will close doors on Saturday

The owners of the Globe Bar and Grille have decided to shut the business down on Saturday.

Basically, the 14-year business has hit a wall, due to the economy and health issues faced by owner Denise Shearer, said Leah Bickerton, one of the Globe's long-time managers.

The location, at 204 N. Division, was good, not great. It's had an interesting history over several generations. Before the Globe, it was Bountiful Foods. Before that it was used by Harmon Glass. The building owner is Julie Clarke, who ran Clarke's Bookstore next to the Globe building for many years. The Clarkes deserve the credit for saving and restoring the old structure.

Way way back, the building housed the Globe Hotel. It was built around 1908.

Stink bugs alert: How and why did this little pest get to be such a pain?

Spokane Valley manufacturer Sterling International, maker of bug traps and the Rescue line of anti-bug systems, got some ink in the Wall Street Journal.

You could easily devour an hour here, reading the article on the onslaught of the nefarious stink bug. Sterling's new stink bug trap is the reason for its inclusion in the story, written by WSJ staffer Heather Haddon. 

Do not neglect the comments here, which highlight the vast range of feelings people have on the business of bug eradication.

Personally, we have nothing against stink bugs. Live and let live…

Photo Credit:  WSJ.com

Spokane foreclosed home sales, an infographic covering 2010 and 2011

CoreLogic, a company that puts out a branded real estate summary called RealtyTrac, just completed a summary of foreclosures for metros across the nation. Later we'll have more on that report and compare the differences between Spokane and North Idaho.

This chart provided via the CoreLogic website is a snapshot of sale prices for foreclosed homes in Spokane County over the last two full years, ending in December 2011. The extremely low prices in late December are skewed by the relative scarcity of home sales at that point.

Coldwater Creek lowers fourth quarter expectations, but sees a turnaround

Sandpoint clothing retailer Coldwater Creek lowered its earlier estimate of losing 13 to 21 cents per share for the fourth quarter. It now expects losses in the 18 to 24 cents per share range.

During fourth quarter of 2010 the company saw a loss of 40 cents per share.

In an an update to its fourth-quarter guidance, Coldwater CEO Dennis Pence said the women’s apparel retailer saw softer than expected sales in late December including post-Christmas sales.

The company’s fiscal year and quarter ends Jan. 28. It reports year-end results on March 7.

Pence said sales at the Creek's premium stores during the last nine months of 2011 were 26 percent lower than the same period a year before.

But citing what he sees as a turnaround, Pence noted the fourth quarter’s 9 percent comparable decline in sales is a step in the right direction and reflects better management of inventory and expenses. The company said it expects to reduce expenses for the fiscal year by $20 million to $25 million.

Chase adding its first branch bank in Spokane since 2002


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Chase Bank is adding a new Spokane branch at 9101 N. Indian Trail Road. This will be the 13th Chase branch and first in this area since 2002 when Washington Mutual opened an in-store branch at the Fred Meyer on Freya.

Chase took over Washington Mutual after the Seattle-based bank collapsed in 2008.

A Chase spokesperson also surmised this is the first new branch by a large bank in several years.

Chase will open the doors on Jan. 21 with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. It will be open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. -6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday.

Two breakfast topics in the next week: higher education and area construction

Talk about higher education this week, and about the construction business next week, during two sponsored breakfasts for business people.

This Friday, Greater Spokane Inc. is hosting an overview of higher ed featuring five area university officials: Rodolfo Arevalo (EWU), Christine Johnson (CCS), Thayne McCullough (Gonzaga), Brian Pitcher (WSU Spokane) and Beck Taylor (Whitworth) will all discuss why a good K-12 system is critical for area growth and development.

Area school levies will also be reviewed. The event is at GU's Cataldo Hall, 502 E. Boone, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. It's $25 for GSI members or $55 for others. Registration: here.

Next Thursday, Jan. 19, Larry Swartz, president of Lydig Construction, will discuss the construction industry and company's 56-year history in Spokane. The event is the next Executive Connect Breakfast, hosted by the nonprofit Connect Northwest.

The event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Georgian Ballroom, Spokane Club.

Registration is $30 and can be arranged by visiting the Connect Northwest reservation form.

WSU’s sale of Jensen-Byrd building lands on ‘Heritage Turkeys’ of the year

Crosscut, a Puget Sound online news publication, listed its 2011 Heritage Turkeys, a list of notable examples of communities and groups failing to maintain historically relevant places.

On the list was the Washington State University decision to sell the Jensen-Byrd building in downtown Spokane. That decision was reported at Spokesman.com the day after the sale was announces.

Crosscut columnist Knute Berger singled out the Jensen-Byrd deal as especially notable since the National Trust for Historic Preservation next fall will hold an annual conference in downtown Spokane.

He quotes Chris Moore of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation saying: “WSU had an opportunity to really be a preservation hero. Instead there will be a hole in the ground where a National Register-eligible building once stood.”

WSU in its defense said the buyer will build a new structure with plenty of housing for students using the area's University District. 

North Idaho’s Pacinian riding a wave

Our Sunday Spokesman-Review article on the new technology developed by Pacinian Corp. was the most-viewed story online at Spokesman.com on Monday. The company is creating ultrathin keyboards and keypads for the computer, health and automotive industries.

In light of today's real opening of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we'll offer a free link to that story. And we'll plan on adding CES updates that have a relationship to the Inland Northwest.

Thanks for reading…

Jimmy John’s sandwich franchise going into Lincoln Heights shop this March

If going by the former Curves spa at Lincoln Heights made you guilty about not working out, worry no more: that spot, at 2931 E. 29th, will soon become a Jimmy John's sandwich franchise.

The new shop moves into the Curves loction near Trader Joe's. Curves relocated to the other end of the shopping center, near Baskin Robbins ice cream shop.

Operating the new Jimmy John's are Ric and Kathy Rocca of Spokane. The couple already operate two other Jimmy John's shops, in downtown and near Gonzaga University.

They expect the Lincoln Heights shop to open in mid-March. They're leasing 1,500 square feet from property owner Vandervert Developments. 

Ric Rocca said the shop will be open seven days a week, employing about 15 workers. It will deliver to area customers who fall, generally, within a 20 minute radius of the store.

The head office of the Jimmy John's company is in Champagne, Ill.

Starbucks to raise prices in certain regions

Starbucks is raising some prices regionally as it faces tough competition and rising ingredient costs.

The Seattle coffee chain is raising prices about 1 percent in the Northeast and Sunbelt regions. Starbucks won’t disclose all of the states its raising prices, but the regions include New York, Washington, D.C., and most Southern states excluding California and Florida.

Other cities where it will raise prices include Boston, Atlanta, Dallas and Albuquerque, N.M.

The price for a “tall” coffee will go up 10 cents in the regions. But beverages that are “grande,” the next size up, won’t change.

Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson says the prices reflect competition in certain markets and higher costs for coffee, fuel, and other commodities.

The last across-the-board price increase was in 2007.

November construction spending rose 1.2 percent

Construction spending jumped in November as builders spent more on single-family homes, apartments and remodeling projects, the Associated Press reports.

The Commerce Department said today that spending on construction projects rose 1.2 percent in November, following a revised 0.2 percent drop in October. The increase was the third in four months and the largest since a 2.2 percent rise in August.

The November increase pushed spending to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $807.1 billion, still barely half the $1.5 trillion that economists consider healthy. Analysts say it could be four years before construction returns to health levels.

Resolutions: Use these 3 steps to set up a budget

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to get on a budget and stay there. Yet many people don’t accomplish even the first step. Just 58 percent of Americans track their spending against a monthly budget, according to a Bankrate.com survey.

Want this year to be different? You’ll have to commit some time to analyze your current spending in order to find ways to fine-tune it, and some time to track your progress and make adjustments.

Here are three steps to get you started:

1. Put together a comprehensive list of all payments you must make on a regular basis. It should include your rent or mortgage payment, utilities, debt payments and periodic expenses like car insurance that may not be due each month. Don’t forget to include savings, for emergencies, short-term goals and retirement. Websites like Mint.com can help you organize your spending by pulling together data from different bank accounts and credit cards. Your bank may also offer similar tools through online banking.

2. Track your day-to-day spending for at least a week. Use a system that works for you: a spreadsheet, an app like Xpenser, Pennies or Cashish or old-fashioned pen and paper to keep a daily record. The more precise you are, the clearer the picture you’ll get of where your money goes.

3. Examine your lists to separate needs from wants, and start trimming the wants (entertainment expenses, for example) until you’ve brought your spending in line with your income. Still not balancing out? Take a closer look at your needs to see if there are ways to reduce those costs. The grocery store, where overspending can be unconscious as you roam the aisles, is often a good place to begin. Try shopping with a list, tracking sales and eating simpler meals to trim your total at the register.

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

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

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