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Archive for July 2014

Spokane’s Rainmaker Creative adding a Silicon Valley office

Spokane marketing and design firm Rainmaker Creative is opening an office in Silicon Valley.

Company co-owner Billie Gaura said the firm’s Cupertino, California, office will open in September, starting with two employees.

It will be an extension of the main office in Spokane, at 107 S. Cedar Ave. Started eight years ago, Rainmaker has 11 employees.

The California office will provide a location for Silicon Valley clients to meet directly with Rainmaker’s team, Gaura said.

The company's target customers are small businesses with five to 15 employees, Gaura said.


Alexis Roizen, Rainmaker’s creative director, will lead the new office.  For the first several months Gaura will work at both offices.

Umpqua Bank starts wildfire fund to help provide short-term loans

Umpqua Bank, which recently merged with Sterling Financial, has started a Wildfire Relief Lending Program to help customers in parts of Washington and Oregon hit hard by wildfires.

The new fund allows Umpqua customers who reside in area under voluntary or mandatory evacuation to receive rapid access to personal loans up to $2,500. The loans will help customers take care of immediate needs including short-term living expenses, generators for power and other immediate needs. Loan approvals are subject minimum credit requirements.

“Communities throughout the Umpqua footprint are currently facing one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent history and we wanted to do something to help,” said Ray Davis, Umpqua Bank president and CEO. “We realize that customers in Brewster and the surrounding areas have been deeply affected by the Carlton Complex fire, with some forced to evacuate with virtually no notice, and many customers in Burns, Oregon, have been seriously impacted. We’ve created this emergency lending program to provide quick, low-cost access to funds to support customers’ immediate needs.”



Red Lion waited for the right time to unload its Bellevue hotel

Today's interesting Spokane business story is the plan by Red Lion Hotels to sell its Bellevue property. It sits conveniently near the Bellevue city core and right next to busy I-405. It will fetch top-dollar because of Seattle area property values.

Down at the bottom is one nugget. In recent years some unhappy RLH investors have been pushing the company to sell the building.

Two years ago, the clamor was supported by predictions the building then would have sold for more than $20 million.

With a new CEO at the helm, the company has agreed to move forward with a sale. And the market is certainly better than it was two years ago — for sellers.

The likely price tag, according to one unidentified specialist, will be somewhere above $45 million.



No plans yet to remove the city’s original skywalk connected to Ridpath

Jack Heath, president and COO of Washington Trust Bank, said the bank has not decided what happens with the skybridge that connects the defunct hotel to the annex, which the bank recently bought for $2.6 million. Story on the sale was published on Tuesday this week.

The skywalk was the very first built in Spokane, approved by the city in agreements with Ridpath owners in 1961; it was finished in 1963 and allowed Ridpath guests at either the hotel or its motor inn to cross over First Avenue.

Under the conditions imposed by the city, the Ridpath was only provided a license for the space over the street (something akin to an easement). The city retains the right to revoke the license.

Heath and the bank could ask and request the city to revoke the license, allowing for the skybridge to be taken down.

Back in 1963, here’s what the skywalk from the Ridpath to the annex looked like

Yep, back in the first half of this decade, people had some grand plans for downtown Spokane. One was the proposed transformation of the Ridpath Annex (aka the Executive Court) into shiny condos. It was supposed to transform that area of town, until the recession sent it reeling, along with dozens of other efforts and grand plans.

Today's SR story catches up with the building, and the plans by its new owner, Washington Trust Bank.

In case you want some history, here's a photo from the Review archives, which showed how the skybridge looked, from the perspective of the Ridpath Hotel. At this angle, you get to see a bit of the recently completed annex. The skybridge is described in older stories of the Review as the first in town. It  was completed the week the photo was taken, March 8, 1963.

At that time, the annex was officially known as the Ridpath Motor Inn, and it was described than as a 77-unit motel.


Associated Painters finishes work on second hangar at Spokane airport

Painting airliners is an expanding business at Spokane-based Associated Painters.

The company, which has been at Spokane International Airport for four years, has just completed work on its second painting hangar.

It's the left building in the photo above.

The expansion will allow the Spokane workforce to grow to 110 employees by next summer, up from 70 today.

The 32,000-square-foot hangar cost roughly $6 million to build. It has one large bay capable of handling a Boeing 757-300 sized aircraft or similar narrow-body planes.

Associated Painters owns the building and has a 30-year land lease with Spokane airports. It should reach full capacity within two years, a company news release said.

Pullman’s Ed Schweitzer sounds off against the federal Ex-Im bank idea

I'm not much surprised to learn that Ed Schweitzer, founder and president of Schweitzer Engineering Labs in Pullman, doesn't like the idea of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im).

The issue of late has become a contest between some conservative lawmakers who see the program, which offers insurance to protect American companies doing overseas business, as outdated and unneeded, and others who say the program is useful and beneficial to the economy.

Schweitzer is a true conservative and has a valid concern about Ex-Im. He expressed those concerns, succinctly, in a recent letter to the editor of The Spokesman-Review.

To read the SR's blog Spin Control summary of the Schweitzer position on Ex-Im, here's your link.


Want to hear how Edwall attracted a growing tech firm? Ask Andrew DePaula

Greater Spokane Incorporated's Thursday (July 17) Executive Connect Breakfast features innovator Andrew DePaula, the guy behind the amazing little tech firm IntelliPaper, based in Edwall, Washington.

The event is 7 a.m.-9 a.m., more or less, in the Spokane Club's downstairs meeting area.  Admission is $30. Here's the story the SR did in February about the nifty little company DePaula runs, Intellipaper.

To reserve a ticket, use the GSI link.


That big tower on Spokane’s South Hill is Rockwood’s Summit taking shape

Not all the construction activity is happening in the Valley or near the convention center downtown.

Rockwood Retirement Communities, which runs Rockwood Tower and other area living centers, is at work on its big expansion on Spokane's South Hill.

This is the work continuing at the Rockwood campus, where the work crews are building a 10-story, 93-unit apartment tower, called The Summit.

It's expected to be open and accepting residents in early 2016.

Photo courtesy of Alan Curryer.

Sportman’s Warehouse coming back to town, opening next year

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Sportsman’s Warehouse, the Utah-based national outdoor recreation and sporting goods chain, will open a north Spokane store next spring, moving into the vacant building at 6720 N. Division St.

It’s leasing and renovating a 35,000-square-foot retail building near the corner of Lyons and Division.

Sportsman’s Warehouse is leasing from the commercial real estate operation of developer Harlan Douglass.

The store will operate seven days a week with roughly 50 employees, said company spokeswoman Karen Seaman.

The retailer expects to offer roughly 75,000 products.

Rebooked, the idea that won the last Startup Weekend, is moving forward

Edited 9:33 a.m. July 8 to reflect the correct name of the business. Rebooked, not Rebook.

We wanted to call a little attention to Rebooked, a Spokane start-up that includes on its team Dan Gayle, a Spokesman-Review web developer.

Dan took part during April's Startup Weekend Spokane, and that team won best of show for their idea for a notification startup called Rebooked.

The idea behind Rebooked is a notification system for businesses who face customer cancellations. Using notifications, companies can convert the cancelled appointments into customer appointments. The potential market includes health care service providers, salons and eventually restaurants.


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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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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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