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Office Hours

Archive for June 2012

Davenport Hotel is looking for ways to enjoy Hoopfest 2012

Hoopfest again, already.

The first few years of Hoopfest were accompanied by complaints from businesses downtown who found the flood of basketball crowds too disruptive.

There are still some who feel that way.

The Davenport is not among those who don't like Hoopfest. It's a Spokane business who's fully embraced the games and the fun of watching games.

Here's something I hadn't seen before: a lineup of chairs along the Davenport sidewalk facing Sprague Avenue. Those seats are for spectators, we assume.

Trouble is, once crowds roll in, those seats will be blocked off as mobs of people move up and down the sidewalk. Even so, it's a nice idea.

Coming Sunday: Read about Brad Hemenway

This Sunday correspondent Michael Guilfoil profiles Brad Hemenway's BJ Roofing.

Hemenway specializes in copper, traveling across the country - even abroad - to apply his craft. He shares a few insights into his  company's success and his history.

Look for the story on the cover of this Sunday's Business section.

Paine Hamblen second-oldest area law firm behind Witherspoon Kelley

Today's local business section had a quick story on Jane E. Brown, newly named managing partner at Spokane law firm Paine Hamblen.

The story noted it's the second oldest law firm in Spokane, having been started in 1893.

It's also supposedly one of the first five law firms in Washington state.

The oldest law firm in town?  Witherspoon Kelley, which was started in 1887.

Our story said Spokane has four full-service law firms. The truth is that we have five large law firms; in additiong to Witherspoon Kelley, Paine Hamblen, Lukins & Annis and Winston & Cashatt, the top firm list now includes Lee & Hayes.

Since that firm is only a few years into diversifying it practice areas, it can't yet be lumped into the full-spectrum law firm category.

Port of Clarkston lands $1.4 million grant to develop manufacturing business park

Big news if you do business in Clarkston, Wash.

The Department of Commerce is providing $1.4 million to the Port of Clarkston to develop a manufacturing-focused business park.

It's expected to create about 130 jobs and attract more than $30 million in private investment, says a federal press release.

The money is provided through the Commerce Dept. Economic Development Administration, which earmarks projects that can be used to help areas with economic challenges.

A press release said the park will assist the establishment of a boatbuilding cluster “and will allow the Port of Clarkston to attract employers in other growing manufacturing sectors.”

The EDA money will help buy land and help construct a new Sustainable Business Park.

The Port of Clarkston is the furthest inland of Washington’s port districts.

 Spokane's own Greater Spokane Inc. has said it will look closely at advocating for a Spokane area port district, which voters must approve.

 

 

 

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)

The mission of the U.S. Economic DevelopmentAdministration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

Spokane called one of the best housing markets over the next two decades by Zillow economist

We gladly pass along interesting web comments that reflect on Spokane and the area's business climate.

Here's a recent blog entry from the chief economist of Zillow, the Seattle property-data and property-price service. The author, Stan Humphries, said that larger cities and especially big cities on the coasts, will face continuing increases in cost of living. That will help change the housing dynamic, he argues, in a post titled: Small Cities Will be the Best Housing Markets for the Next 20 Years.

The post appeared at the following link:  http://www.businessinsider.com/people-still-want-to-buy-homes-but-theyll-have-to-move-to-smaller-cities-to-afford-them-2012-6#ixzz1z79Herv1

The key remarks are:

With all that said, in 20 years, do I think that most folks are going to be moving into the cities as some suggest? No, I don’t. My best guess is that the biggest winners in the housing market two decades from now are going to be small- to mid-sized cities, some close to larger metros and others more distant.

Specifically, I’m talking about communities like Austin (TX), Savannah (GA), Athens (GA), Rochester (NY), Boulder (CO), Madison (WI), Knoxville (TN), and Spokane (WA)
  

Read more:

State and WorkSource Spokane create system for companies to hire veterans

Washington’s Employment Security Department and Spokane WorkSource are making it easier for employers and veterans to find each other.

Job seekers who post résumés on go2worksource.com can check a box that lets employers know if they’re veterans.

Employers who post job openings on go2worksource.biz can check a box indicating they will give veterans a preference in their hiring process.

Both companies and veterans can use the sites’ search tools to find each other.

A state law adopted last year gives private-sector employers a legal right to give veterans and some spouses a hiring preference.

Wholesale Sports relocating from Spokane Valley Mall to NorthTown in July


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Wholesale Sports is relocating its only Spokane store to NorthTown Mall. The Calgary-based outdoor equipment retailer recently closed a store in Spokane Valley Mall and will open its North Spokane location in July, company marketing vice president Jimm Holland said.

It’s moving into about 30,000 square feet on the first floor of the mall last used by Steve & Barry. The original tenant was Emporium.

Wholesale Sports has 14 locations in Washington, Montana and Idaho and 11 stores in western Canada.

Holland said all employees at the Spokane Valley store were offered jobs at the new location.   The Spokane store was formerly Sportsman's Warehouse until the Canadian company acquired the firm's Western U.S. locations.

Idaho Independent Bank to deregister stock

Idaho Independent Bank announced Wednesday it plans to “go dark,” or voluntarily deregister its common stock.

The Coeur d’Alene-based bank said it is taking the step to save money. When deregistration is effective, which should take place within 90 days, Idaho Independent Bank will no longer have to file the many reports it’s currently required to file with the FDIC.

According to a news release, the bank is eligible to take that step because it has fewer than 1,200 shareholders of its common stock.

Seattle startup Dwellable adds Washington state vacation rental listings

Another website devoted to finding vacation rentals just added a bunch of listings in Washington state.

Dwellable just this week brought online listings for more than 1,000 Washington state rentals.

And to be honest, not that many are in Spokane, at least as of June 26.  We searched and found three vacation rentals.

But it's going to grow, according to Dwellable CEO Brenda Spoonmore. The company was launched in Seattle in 2011 but only this week added Washington properties.  Spoonmore said she has Eastern Washington ties, having family in Dayton and Pullman.

Plans are to add Idaho listings some time later.  “By the end of year, we will cover all of the U.S. plus some additional areas in North America (eg, Whistler),” she wrote in an email.

Spoonemore is co-founder with another partner who also co-founded popular food mashup Urbanspoon.com.

“Not coincidentally, there are some similarities between the Urbanspoon approach to restaurants and ours to vacation rentals,” Spoonmore added.

County looking to fill about 200 jobs for this year’s Interstate Fair

Spokane County will host two job fairs in July to hire more than 200 temporary workers for the next Spokane County Interstate Fair.

Applicants must come in person to either the July 18 session, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., or the session July 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Both sessions are at the Fair and Expo Center, Havana and Broadway.

Jobs being filled include clerks, ticket takers, maintenance crews, janitors and barn and livestock clerks. All jobs pay $9.04, the minimum wage, according to a county spokesperson.

Applicants need to bring two sources of government-provided identification, the county’s press release noted, such as driver's license or Social Security card.

The fair runs Sept. 7-16. More fair details are on Facebook.

For more information, contact the Fair and Expo Center office at (509) 477-1766.

Last week’s officers-down event spiked area’s news organization websites

In case you wondered.  Last week's dramatic events involving a chase of a felon who shot two Spokane deputies was a big deal with area online news companies.

We asked how much those events affected the companies' news sites.

Here's what we learned, based on self-reported numbers. (We don't subscribe to the tracker sites that can scoop recent data, for a fairly high fee.)

KXLY.com reported an 83 percent spike in unique visitors for that Tuesday, compared with other Tuesday.

KHQ.com (also owned by the same company that owns The Spokesman-Review) reported a 9 percent total spike in unique visitors, over the Tuesday site average.

Spokesman.com reported a 12 percent hike in unique visitors above the Tuesday daily average.

KREM did not respond to an invitation to provide numbers.

Which Idaho or Eastern Washington startups belonged in today’s story?

Today's SR story on three growing Spokane area startups is part of this newspaper's yearlong look at jobs and employment challenges.

The three we focused on are were digital marketing agency Seven2, green online retailer  GreenCupboards and Liberty Lake software and app developer Gravity Jack. All three showed the same pattern: gradual and steady growth in a relatively new market or industry, along with the ability to land  work from outside the immediate region.

We didn't do one thing, and maybe our readers can help. What are the best examples of fast-growing startups in North Idaho or in the rest of Eastern Washington?  We considered Coeur d'Alene-based Pacinian, a company with immense upside. But much of its work to date has been beta development and the firm has yet to announce any one big deal with a major customer.

There are certainly other job-growing startups we didn't include. Please pass along any suggestions by posting them here.

Out of the basement into Kendall Yards: Spa Paradiso grabs a river view

Spa Paradiso, the downtown beauty care business in the Davenport Hotel, will move into new space in the Kendall Yards development, owners Jan and Larry Schoonover said.

The natural-care and beauty spa opened its doors in the 1990s in the basement of the former Bank Of American building downtown. It moved to the lower level of the Davenport in 2002.

The move will allow their business to expand and take advantage of views of the Spokane River, said Larry Schoonover. “We really think the location in Kendall Yards is special. The commercial and residential mix there, in the heart of the city, is really unique,” said Larry Schoonover.

The business has 35 employees and will likely add more after the relocation, he said.

The Schoonovers will close their current spa July 22 and open on Dec. 1.

They will lease about half of a 13,000-square-foot, two-story building due west of the new Cedar Plaza Building. A second unidentified tenant will take the other half of the space.

The new commercial building is part of the 78-acre Kendall Yards development, a project of Greenstone Corp. So far more than 60 residential units have been sold or are in construction.

Plans include for at least five more commercial properties to be developed along the river toward the Monroe Street Bridge, including a grocery store.

Connected to the spa building will be another commercial building also measuring 13,000-square-feet. That adjoining two-level building will be built by Greenstone but owned by the Pacific Northwest Inlander. It plans to move into the building in the fall.

The online Spokane EMS scanner feed now broken into three separate channels

We didn't produce a local business story Thursday. But Tom Sowa wrote an A-1 tech story about Mike Russell, the Hillyard geek who plays a pivotal part in making available the Spokane County emergency scanner channel to web users and smartphones. It was used heavily during Tuesday's wild and harrowing hunt for Charles Wallace, who wounded two Spokane sheriff's deputies.

That scanner story was one of those “huh, that's how that works” explainers.

We tracked down Russell after looking at the iPhone app Radio 5-0, which hooks into Radio Reference, a system that offers free scanner feeds from thousands of North American locations.

Russell sent a message today indicating that he's truncated the EMS feed now into three separate channels, to help people hear and read the scanner traffic. (The text summaries of emergency calls that show up on RadioReference.com  come from a different service: Incident Page Network.)

The three feeds from Russell are for fire, one just for police, and a third channel for all county EMS traffic.

We also noticed, along the way, that there are a few different apps for smartphones. The ones we highlighted were just the two best known ones. Search the Android and iOS iTunes markeplaces to see if any other scanner app suits you.

Coalition files suit to force Liquor Control Board to change retail liquor rules

Additional material added, 1:50 p.m. June 22

You can find a copy of the petition at the bottom of this post. 

The aftermath of Initiative 1183 continues.  A West side group, the  1183 Coalition, announced on Friday it filed a Thurston County suit contesting how the state implemented the rules covering sales from retail locations.

I-1183, passed by voters last fall, allows private sales of liquor across Washington state.

The coalition includes the Washington Restaurant Association (WRA), the Northwest Grocery Association (NWGA) and Costco Wholesale Corp.

The suit is particularly focused on Liquor Control Board rulings that deter retail-to-retail sales. The main concerns are:

  • 24-liter per day restriction on sales of wine and spirits from retailers to restaurants
  • Restrictions on delivery locations for spirits distributors
  • Imposition of unauthorized fee on certain spirits manufacturers
  • Discrimination against foreign spirit producers ability to market product to retailers

Attorneys for the coalition say the board's approach “arbitrarily restricts the wholesale distribution and pricing of wine and spirits. This approach erodes small businesses' ability to compete in the marketplace; it protects distributors from competition and increases prices for consumers.”

 


Documents:

City and county transfer WorkForce Council to Spokane CCS

UPDATED:  At 1 p.m., we learned that the city and county don't provide money to the Workforce Development Council. Which means this was a politically necessary system that involved some overview by city and county officials, but without any skin in the game.

City Communications Manager Marlene Feist said: “For the first time, SAWDC did get a County grant this year—an outside agency grant for $20,000.

“The SAWDC funding primarily comes from federal and state grants,” Feist noted.

The Spokane Area Workforce Development Council, a joint effort between the City of Spokane and Spokane County, will be relocated as an operation of Community Colleges of Spokane.

The transferl is part of efforts top align workforce services more efficiently and to let Workforce work more closely with the community colleges. 

The SAWDC will continue as a nonprofit agency. Its goals are: closing the skills gap, helping workers gain new skills, helping workers and companies improve productivity and reduce poverty in the region.

A press release said the new plan should make it easier for the agency to find money  from a more sources and streamline management.

An interlocal agreement between the city and county allowed the SAWDC to operate as a city department for nearly four decades.

The release said:  “But as the city and county have looked for ways to improve services for citizens, moving the SAWDC to a non-profit made sense.  Workforce development agencies across the state and nation have thrived using a similar approach.

“This change reflects another model of collaboration between the city and county,” says Mayor David Condon.  “At the city, we are making changes to focus our efforts on what we do best and allow others to operate services that are outside our area of expertise.”

Spokane County jobless rate increases, due in part to college grads

Spokane County's unemployment rate for May grew to 9.1 percent, up from 8.7 percent in April, the state reported on Tuesday.

The sad news: the May jobless rate this year is exactly the same as one year earlier, 9.1 percent.

Statewide, Washington's jobless rate ticked up to 8.3 percent in May, compared to 8.2 percent in April.

Some good news: Spokane's jobs grew by  2,900 from April 2012-May 2012, the state Employment Security Department reported. That's the nonadjusted number for Spokane. If one were to use the seasonally adjusted employment number, Spokane gained only 1,600 jobs.

To look at the numbers directly, go here.

Sectors seeing upticks: construction, manufacturing and professional-scientific-technical.

Doug Tweedy, the Spokane area labor economist, said the job growth number is based on employer surveys. The jobless number is based on completely different surveys collected from Spokane area households.

Between the two, Tweedy said the employment numbers (which exclude farm jobs and sole proprietorships) is a more accurate number for the Spokane area job market.

The jobless increase reflects the influx of recent college grads getting into the job growth, Tweedy said.

A clear pattern: Lee & Hayes racks up top IP honors for third year in a row

Spokane-based Lee & Hayes grabbed the No. 1 rankings in patent quality and in the information technology industry, according to a recent publication that used industry-wide evaluations.

Those rankings were the third consecutive year for Lee & Hayes to earn those top ratings in surveys published by Intellectual Asset Management  Magazine, with ratings provided by Ocean Tomo Patent Ratings.

The dominance of Lee & Hayes in the IP patent quality ranking reflects its emphasis on building valuable patent portfolios with a focus on maximizing the quality and value of each patent component within the overall patent strategy, a Lee & Hayes press release said.

In addition to the Spokane's firm being chosen as No. 1 for quality patents, co- founder Lewis Lee has been selected as one of “The World’s Leading IP Strategists” by London-based IAM.

Groupon gains ground, thanks to merchants, like Spokane, repeating deals

Saturday's Spokesman Review and Spokesman.com featured a story on the popularity of last year's Groupon summer passes for Riverfront Park.

Since the deals were so successful a year ago, the city Parks Department just re-upped and approved a new 2012 set of promotions that will soon be promoted by Groupon. Of roughly 20,000 park DayPasses sold last year, 6,000 came via Groupon, the parks department records say.

We noticed on Monday that Groupon, which went public a year ago, is back in the swing. For awhile this year, there were concerns that the deal-per-day business model might be losing steam with customers.

The Wall Street Journal today posted a story showing that GRPN is up 9 percent, based on heady forecasts for repeat business from merchants. (May require subscription)

The online story noted:

“New data show an increasing portion of deals offered by the Internet couponing leader are being run by merchants it has worked with previously. According to research firm Yipit, repeat merchants drove 56% of the gross billings generated by Groupon's core local-deals business in the first quarter. That was up from 49% in the fourth quarter and 33% in the third. The data track only Groupon's North America business, about 43% of its total. But the trend is good.

Groupon's biggest critics have argued that merchants lose when they run daily deals, attracting bargain-seekers that don't convert to regular customers. The new data suggest that isn't the case.

And if merchants are coming back on their own, Groupon may be able to save on sales expenses to drum up new deals. That could provide operating leverage as it becomes more difficult to squeeze efficiencies out of other expenses like marketing.”

New bells and whistles are part of new I-90 Idaho port of entry

The Washington Department of Transportation's new  port of entry on Interstate 90 near the Idaho border is open for business.

WashDOT describes the $14 million facility as equipped with state-of-the-art technology to enhance the efficiency, safety and security of truck freight movement at that location.

It was also designed in cooperation with the Washington State Patrol and a company, International Road Dynamics, to create a more efficient system of access.

Those new tech systems include a “Commercial Vehicle Information System Network” (CVISN) and a Weigh-in-Motion (WIN) system. Those tools provide for automated vehicle identification and rapid license plate recognition, to help focus on trucks and carriers known to be high-risk, according to a press release.

Photo: from Washington State Patrol
  

Cyan’s realMyst for iPad now available on iTunes app store

Looking for the all-new realMyst for iPad and new iPad?

Cyan Worlds, in north Spokane, announced the game is now available at the iTunes apps store, priced at $6.99.

It's the rich and detailed Myst Island scenario, recreated with lots more dimensionality and textures.

Office Hours is eager to test the game, or gather comments from gamers. Drop any thoughts and comments here to share with the Myst community.

Opening up the rules: win a Boomerang account in our Viking trivia contest

REVISED rules for our recent Viking Tavern Trivia Challenge.

Now, instead of needing both righ answers to win a free account with Boomerang for Gmail, you need to get just one of the two right.

Those questions again are:

What was the address of the Viking Tavern when it was not on North Stevens?

Who was or who were the prior owners of the Viking during the pre-Stevens era?

Winners will be notified via the Office Hours Marketing Dept., which includes a crack team of analysts and tavern watchers.

Good luck. One entry per Spokesman.com account. Post your answers below this entry or below our previous contest announcement.

James Kalustian chosen as new chairman of Ambassadors’ board

Spokane's Ambassadors Group Inc. has named James Kalustian as its board chair, filling the spot held by John Ueberroth.

 Kalustian, 51, has been a board director for the company since 2006.

Ueberroth did not stand for re-election at the company's recent annual meeting.

Ueberroth, who's 67, was also one of the founders of Ambassadors Group. Ueberroth is the younger brother of former Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth.

Kalustian's career covers work in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, industrial, retail and consumer products industries.

He's co-founder of Vertex Partners, a customer-focused strategic consulting firm. He is also co-founder and senior vice president of HRInet, Inc., a healthcare technology and services company.

Viking Tavern trivia challenge: where was its earlier location and who ran it?


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Spokane's Viking Tavern closed its doors Tuesday, and owner Barbie Randazzo hasn't said what her long-term plans are.

The popular hangout has been a North Spokane establishment since 1994. But as some readers of our daily news story noted, the Viking also had an earlier life on the city's South Hill.

We'll hand out a prize — free registrations for the pretty cool web browser plugin Boomerang for Gmail — for those who correctly answer both of these Viking Trivia Questions:

A. Where was the previous incarnation of the Viking, before being reborn at 1221 N. Stevens?

B. Who was the person who ran it?  If you get either the first or last name right, you'll get credit for a right answer.

Just stick your answers in comments below. Check back to see who's won the prizes. Winners will be announced on this blog and winners will be contacted via email.

Boomerang for Gmail works with the Chrome and Firefox browsers. It's a plugin that lets you take control of when you send and receive email messages.

Cost cutting in Sandpoint and across the country: Coldwater Creek’s job cuts

Recently we took a look at the slow and painful progress Coldwater Creek has made in recovering from a difficult retail-apparel market.

One thing we couldn't get, in time for the story, was the change in headcount for the Sandpoint publicly traded company (CWTR is the Nasdaq symbol).

Cost cutting certainly has occurred. In 2010 the firm had 9,680 total workers, with 738 in Idaho.

As of June 2012 the numbers are 6,912 total employees and 589 in Idaho.

Creepy Coke ad or great, creative marketing, using security cameras?

Security cameras get us thinking about the creepy Big Brother nature of modern life. No doubt, security cams are a pain.

It was odd, then, to see Coca Cola use footage from security cams from around the world for this little ad.

Comments?

Biotech summit Wednesday at Riverpoint Academic Center; reservations are free

There's a biotech summit happening in Spokane on Wednesday. The print edition on Tuesday had the main details:

Statewide leaders in the biosciences and biotechnology will gather in Spokane on Wednesday at a “leadership summit” hosted by the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association.

The event is free but requires registration through the WBBA website, Washbio.org.

It runs 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at the Riverpoint campus Academic Center, 600 N. Riverpoint Blvd.

The sessions will bring together business leaders, state officials and investors in life science industries to encourage more alliances and partnerships across the state.

Keynote speaker will be Tom Fritz, the CEO of Spokane’s Inland Northwest Health Services. Others scheduled to present are John DesRosier, program director for the Life Sciences Discovery Fund; and David Flowers, director of business development for Jubilant HollisterStier.

Can the preservationists save the Jensen Byrd Building? What’s next?

Haven't seen enough information about the Jensen Byrd building and its prospects for survival?

Look for our indepth story in Tuesday's Spokesman Review business section, covering efforts to keep it from the wrecking ball

This past year the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation added the 103-year-old JB Building to its Most Endangered list. Here is some information. http://wa-trust.org/News34.aspx.

That follows last December's announced sale of the building to Campus Advantage, which has plans to replace it with modern student housing.

The Jensen Byrd was also nominated for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2012 Most Endangered list, but it was not selected; the national most-endangererd list was published this past week:  http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/11-most-endangered/

The national organization said it declined to add the Jensen Byrd to the list because statements by Washington State University, who is still the owner, suggest it won't face demolition until no earlier than 2013.

Which sites are the most liked and most disliked by business owners?

Website 99designs recently polled 1,500 small business owners, start-ups, entrepreneurs and design decision-makers on graphic design and its importance to their business.

The results make for a decent read. We feel a post is warranted since we also saw recent stories in the WSJ that suggest many businesses are now hungry not for MBAs, but people who are saavy in design and product development. (Story at WSJ.com may be behind a paid content wall.)

The survey results that are easiest to digest involve colors and popularity.

Namely, the survey asked for which colors owners associate with success. Answer: Blue most associated with succes. Fifty-seven percent said blue is their idea of success; the second most cited color is green (35%) followed by white (32%), black (29%) and red (21%). Purple was the color males least often associate with success, while women were least likely to select orange.

Then, on which brands are seen as having best logo and best website, the results are predictable:

  • Apple topped the lists for best logo and best website; also on the best logo were Nike, Coca-Cola and FedEx.
  • Most disliked logos and websites: Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Pepsi, IBM and Google.
  • Best websites: Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Nike.
  • Worst websites: Wal-Mart, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace and Microsoft.

MySpace, really?  Who looks at MySpace?
  

Duo from Seven2.com start Passenger Pets, an e-commerce experiment

The guys behind hip Spokane media agency Seven2 are branching out. They're diving into what they call an entrerpreneurial experiment, selling photos of dogs and cats.

Photos of dogs or cats that attach to car or truck windows.

Nick Murto and Tyler Lafferty, the principals in Seven2, have launched Passenger Pets. It makes and sells life-size photos of dogs and cats.

For $20, customers get a choice from the eight different dog breeds or two cat breeds. The images are printed on slick clear sheets that cling to interior vehicle windows.

 For safety, the images are meant to be attached to a rear window or a rear side window.

“I got excited about having a physical product,” said Murto. “Everything we’ve done to date has been services (to others). “It was time to get behind our own product.”

Starting next week the first batch of eight dog and two cat images will be available through Amazon.com.

Amazon should help reach more customers as well, Lafferty said. “People have a lot of confidence and trust in Amazon,” he said.

The eight dogs chosen cover six of the most popular breeds plus two all-American mutts. Photos are actually about half-life size, featuring the dog’s or cat’s head and shoulders.

The most likely customers, Murto said, would start with women in the boomer range and up. “Our research suggest the demographic skews older, maybe covering people like my mom or aunt,” he said.

The full story runs in Saturday's Spokesman-Review business section and on Spokesman.com.

Staff photo: Dan Pelle 

Spokane’s John Boswell featured on Today Show, new remix of Mr. Rogers

Spokane native John Boswell's autotuned video “Mister Rogers Remixed” was featured on the Today Show, and is the latest production in his Symphony of Science series.

Take a listen. Boswell attended Gonzaga Prep and later studied at Western Washington University. He lives in Bellingham.

Three years ago Boswell blew up YouTube with his immensely popular mix called “A Glorious Dawn,” which autotuned some Cosmos clips featuring Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. That was Boswell's breakthrough video/remix.

Pepsi moving into new Spokane Valley distribution center

PepsiCo will consolidate its Spokane area locations and move into an 80,000-square-feet distribution center at the Central Business Park in Spokane Valley.

The move consolidates PepsiCo’s Eastern Washington and North Idaho operations, providing a new hub for about 130 area workers.

The Central Business Park location will be one of four PepsiCo-owned distribution centers in the state of Washington. The other three are in Everett, Seattle, and Tacoma.

Greater Spokane Inc. helped the deal by obtaining $50,000 in incentive funds from Washington's Strategic Reserve Fund.

The Central Business Park’s warehouse complex is at 11016 E Montgomery Rd. The center has 57 dock-high doors with load-levelers, along with 26 adjacent acres for build-to-suit opportunities.

Here’s how the future home of Central Food looks during construction

Not to overdo it, but we should have included an image with yesterday's story and post on Central Food, going into the Cedar Plaza building in the Kendall Yards project just west of downtown Spokane.

Here's what it looks like at this point. Construction is expected to run through September. Central Food, the eatery being set up by David Blaine, will take the back 3,000 square feet.

Photo by the Office Hours staff photographer.

What’s in the name Central Food? Chef Blaine’s cautious restaurant moniker

Kind of big news on the local food business front:

Spokane chef David Blaine announced he'll open Central Food, a new restaurant in the first commercial building in the Kendall Yards mixed use development.

This is the big project being done by Greenstone Commercial along the Spokane River, in the area west of the Monroe Street Bridge. Greenstone took over the project after developer Marshall Chesrown bailed.

Blaine has done restaurants and selective cuisine for more than 20 years. He's going to use 3,000 square feet in a building just south of the state Court of Appeals.

It's the first chef-owned place that Blaine has attempted. For the past seven year's he's been head chef for Spokane eatery Latah Bistro.

He said “I don’t think I’d be able to live with myself if I passed on that location.” He said he considers the Kendall Yards mixed-use development one of the city’s most dynamic projects.

“It has so much energy behind it. I can’t think of any downsides to doing this,” he added.

He expects to hire about 25 people and open the restaurant in December.

“At this point, I have more questions than answers,” he said, about the full scope of the cuisine, the thematic focus and how he intends to market the business.
  

CDA’s Mountain Comfort Furnishings closing due to problems with lease

Mountain Comfort Furnishings and Design, based in Coeur d'Alene, will close its doors and sell off its furniture.

The press release announcing the closure also noted that the business was chosen as “Best Furniture in North Idaho” by Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living Magazine.

So, that award won't pay the rent, apparently. The press release noted that owners Andy and Heidi Jarski were not able to negotiate a new lease for their store, located on Highway 95 north of I-90. The company is a franchise location and the only one in this area.

They've been leasing a 13,000-square-foot store for a number of years.

It will close June 5-June 8 and then open for a sell-off of inventory on June 9.
  

How a brand new website changed the game for North Idaho AIDS group

Stacie Lechot just discovered the web is the new Yellow Pages.

About a week after getting a new, improved website for the nonprofit group, North Idaho AIDS Coalition, a caller found her on the web and left a message that he wanted to donate $5,000.

“It wouldn’t have happened if we still had our old website,” said Lechot, executive director of NIAC, the only North Idaho agency devoted to advocacy and support for HIV patients and their families.

The benefactor was the New York-based group Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Its executive director, Tom Viola, decided the group would donate $5,000 to honor  a well-respected volunteer from Idaho who now works as a stage manager in New York City.

Viola said he started searching for any groups that came up with the keywords Idaho and “AIDS services.”

The top result was the Coeur d’Alene-based NIAC, which has been in existence since 1989 and relies on a combination of government grants, contracts and contributions.

Two weeks earlier, before hiring a Spokane design team to redesign the site, that search would not have found it, said Lechot.

Viola first called and left a phone message, telling NIAC he wanted to send them the money. Lechot said she was sure there was a catch. “I thought it had to be connected to some kind of ad,” she said.

Viola called again, and made clear that there were no strings; Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS was sending the group a check for the money.

“When I got that message, we all did our happy dance around here,” Lechot said.

Lechot said she and others had been pushing to change the website over the past few years. It was dated and limited in giving visitors quick access to resources and services; one service it offers is free HIV tests. Last year NIAC provided 50 free tests, Lechot said.

After getting approval, Lechot contacted a handful of area web design firms. She saw an ad from Spokane’s 2X Sales Results Group and asked for a bid. She hired the company after getting a quick reply and a detailed proposal.

Jerry Thrasher, the owner of 2X Sales, redesigned the site to help search engines locate the nonprofit much more easily. “Before, the only way you would have found (NIAC) was if you typed in their full name,” Thrasher said.

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

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