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Archive for July 2013

Fire forces St. Luke’s to redirect patients to other Spokane clinics

Last week's fire that destroyed a north Spokane office building is forcing St. Luke's Rehabilation teams to direct patients to its other area locations.

St. Luke's had one of the three tenant spaces in the building. The building was completely destroyed, and no cause has been identified.

INHS, which manages St. Luke's, sent out a release this morning outlining plans to maintain services. The staff at the north Spokane building have been assigned to other rehab clinics in the area.

St. Luke's other locations in the area are: St. Luke’ Main Campus, 711 South Cowley; St. Luke’ s Valley, 14927 East Sprague, and at 9119 E. Broadway;  St. Luke's North, 603 Holland Ave.;  Providence Wound Care Clinic, 5633 N. Lidgerwood;  St. Luke's downtown, 809 W. Main;  St. Luke's at OZ South Hill,  5501 S. Regal.


Jerry Dicker next speaker in the Connect Northwest monthly breakfast series

Thursday's Connect Northwest morning session will feature GVD Commercial Properties President Jerry Dicker.

Dicker has gradually become one of Spokane's leading developers; his list of projects includes the Hotel Ruby, the Bing Theater, the former CompUSA building, the Interplayers Theater building and the Burgan Block LLC project, near Gonzaga University.

Registration is $30. Sign up at the Connect Northwest reservation link.

Dicker moved to Spokane in 2004, after working primarily in the Southwest and in California.

LaunchPad does a pivot and shifts its attention to a tech newsletter, events

LaunchPad INW, a Spokane-based social networking site for business professionals, is scrapping its business plan and shifting to highlighting innovation among area companies.

Founded in 2008, the first few years of  LaunchPadINW were largely successful and drew considerable interest. In addition to the online discussion forums, the business leased a downtown space to host social events, workshops and business gatherings.

Over time, it began to lose its edge, in part because social networking was dominated by Facebook and LinkedIn, he said. And the cost of maintaining the downtown office drained resources, Kalivas noted..

Plus, LaunchPad didn’t have the staff to edit and manage the assorted online discussions on, allowing some users to tout their own businesses or spam others.

He and original co-founder Allen Battle, who owns a minority share in LaunchPad, pivoted to the new business plan within the past two weeks.

It will now publish a weekly tech-focused  newsletter.

It will also host networking events — including a relaunch of the quarterly LaunchPad gatherings.

Back in 2001, those first LaunchPad events drew hundreds of tech business leaders, investors, government officials and entrepreneurs. 

Kalivas said LaunchPad’s current goal is generating enough money through sponsors and other means to at least cover operating costs and allow for gradual growth..

“We don't have a big tech presence like Seattle,” Kalivas said. “We do have a tech community but you just don’t hear what’s going on as much as we used to,” he said.

“We want to focus on the assets we already have in the community,” Kalivas said..

If succesful, area entrepreneurs and investors will learn about the range of companies operating here and understand how to plug into the network of experienced business veterans in the area, he said.

The company’s website will provide more maps and more visualization of area activity. “People will be able to look and realize how much is actually going on here,” Kalivas said.

Kalivas has a fulltime job with Silicon Valley wireless hardware provider Aruba Networks.  The only paid worker is a contracted online editor who manages the site and publishes the weekly newsletter.

CarMax is expanding, opening its first used-car lot in Spokane Valley

Virginia-based CarMax Inc., the nation’s largest used-car retailer, plans to open its first location in the area in Spokane Valley next spring.

It will build its new retail store on a nine-acre site at 7814 E. Sprague Ave. Spokane Valley permits say the 44,000-square foot facility will cost roughly $4.8 million.

This will be the initial store operated by CarMax in Washington state. Company spokeswoman Trina Lee said the goal is open locations in the Seattle market eventually.

“We chose Spokane Valley because of the busy retail and auto corridor on that side of the state,” Lee said.

Its locations typically hire between 50 and 100 employees, said Lee.

Publicly traded CarMax is a Fortune 500 company. It opened its first store 20 years ago and now has 122 in 61 markets.

Construction is expected to begin within the next few months.

Spokane AAA will relocate main office to Savory building on South Hill

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AAA of Spokane is relocating its downtown Spokane office to the South Hill, taking the space of the former restaurant Savory, at 1314 S. Grand Blvd.

The move will allow the automobile insurance and travel provider to reach out and provide more convenience to AAA members, said spokeswoman Cassie Devaney.  Its main Spokane office, at 1717 W. Fourth Ave., is for sale.

Savory closed earlier this year after opening (in a former video rental store) in 2011.

AAA is taking a 10-year lease from the building owners, an LLC that includes Spokane developer David Black.

The goal is to complete improvements and move in by the end of the year, Devaney said.

AAA will continue to operate its two other offices in Spokane and one in Coeur d’Alene.

Correction: Waterford on South Hill always a part of Touchmark company

We need to modify and correct an error in a May 22 story about efforts to stop the development of 22 acres of property owned by the family of John Sonneland.

That story said that the Sonnelands chose not to sell a portion of the property to Touchmark, the national retirement company operator that bought Spokane's Waterford on South Hill retirement center, which is on the edge of the Sonneland land.

In fact, we're told Touchmark has always owned the Waterford on South Hill.  We're told its changed its name in 2011 from Waterford to Touchmark to help support the brand name recognition.

Spokeswoman Keely Barrett noted that the Waterford center was Trademark's first retirement community. Touchmark also operates the Grape Tree Community, at 2620 S Grape Tree Rd., on the South Hill.

Government delays health-care requirement for firms until 2015

Third in a row; another blog post on the ACA (Affordable Care Act).

Just today, the Obama administration announced it will waive all enforcements or penalties until 2015 for any company that doesn't provide health care insurance to workers.

The law's full list of provisions goes into effect Jan. 1. Tuesday's announcement means larger firms have a full year to establish compliance with the regulations the law imposes.

Passed three years ago, the law mandates large firms — those with 50 or more workers — to  provide health benefits to full-time employees or pay fines starting at $2,000 per worker.

As a story noted, “Many large companies already provide coverage voluntarily, but some industries, particularly restaurant and retail and other sectors with significant numbers of lower-wage workers, had criticized the additional costs.”

But, it's not clear how many businesses will be affected. One group, the Small Business Majority, estimates 96 percent of businesses in the U.S. have fewer than 50 employees.

The Treasury Department on Tuesday said the waiver will help companies work out the details of compliance.

One more ObamaCare link for business owners, from Puget Sound Biz Journal

And of course, after listing three handy sources for businesses dealing with the Affordable Care Act, it's natural that an hour later along comes another good, valuable link.

This would be the Health Care Inc. Northwest blog, managed and operated by the Puget Sound Business Journal. The blog can be accessed directly, or one can sign up and receive a newsletter summary.

The newsletter signup page is here.

Three options for business owners needing to get ready for ObamaCare

Small business owners certainly are facing a raft of complex concerns as they prepare to deal with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This is not a simple question.

Many information sources can be found online, and there are several sites specifically tailored to guide businesses through the new legislative-regulatory maze.

One is the Health Coverage Guide, managed by Small Business Majority, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

Probably as good a basic and advanced information source is the U.S. Department of Commerce's SBA site specifically on the health care law..

For the tablet-reader, we'll recommend this book available on Amazon, “The Busy Business Owner's Guide to Health Care Reform: What You Need to Know.”

Many of the business-related provisions of the care act go into effect later this year, and then fully on Jan. 1, 2014.

Survey says Spokane gained 1,000 construction jobs in May. Sound right?

Spokane County’s jobless rate inched up in May to 7.8 percent, up from 7.5 percent in April, the Washington Employment Security Department said.

Washington state’s unemployment rate in May was 6.6 percent, up slightly from 6.5 percent.

The jobless rate is derived from the Civilian Labor Force survey, which said Spokane added 150 jobs in May. But Spokane County also saw 740 more potential workers entering the job market in May, causing the jobless rate to climb, said state labor economist Doug Tweedy.

A second survey, based on total non-farm jobs, showed a different set of numbers, Tweedy noted. Using surveys of employers, it’s generally more accurate, Tweedy said.

The non-farm survey found Spokane gained 3,300 private jobs since April. Government jobs fell by 100, accounting for a net gain of 3,200 jobs in May, he said.

Leading the private-sector growth was construction, which added close to 1,000 jobs from April to May. Of those, roughly 300 are seasonal construction jobs, noted Tweedy.

Spokane had 10,500 construction jobs in May, well below the all-time bubble for that sector — 14,200 jobs in spring of 2007, Tweedy said.

Next largest in job gains during May was retail trade, which added 500 jobs. Leisure and hospitality added 200 jobs in May, Tweedy said.

Former Coug, WSDA director Bud Hover will meet with ag leaders July 11

If the name Don Hover sounds familiar, you are either a farmer, or a dedicated NFL fan.

Donald “Bud” Hover, is Washington State's Department of Agriculture director. And he'll be in Spokane to meet with agribusiness leaders July 11 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at  the GSI offices, 801 W. Riverside.

Hover also graduated from Washington State University, later earned a master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington.

He also played middle linebacker for the Washington Redskins for two years.

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Hover to the post back in April. This is, we're pretty sure, his first visit in his official capacity to Spokane.

GSI is hosting a reception for Hover along with the Far West Agribusiness Association and Northwest Farm Credit Services.

The WSDA is responsible for animal health, plant inspections, food safety, fruit and grain inspection and certification, weights and measures, pesticide registration and marketing the state's agricultural products regionally and nationally.

To register for the reception, contact Myrna O'Leary by July 8.

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

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Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

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

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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