Nation/World

Egghead Jobs Come With A Price

A pair of Spokane business groups paid $225,000 to bring Egghead Software to Liberty Lake, officials said Friday.

Momentum ‘95 and the Spokane Area Economic Development Council chipped in the money to buy a two-acre lot that Egghead wanted to accommodate growth at its customer service center. The center opens Monday with about 130 employees.

In exchange, Egghead agreed to boost employment over four years, or pay $1,000 for each job below an undisclosed goal.

“We’re buying good-paying jobs for the community,” said Susan Meyer, executive director of Momentum, a Spokane economic development group.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Egghead, the nation’s largest reseller of computer software, announced plans last month to consolidate 10 regional service centers into a 115,000-square-foot building in the MeadowWood Business Park in the Valley. Employees will provide technical support as well as make sales to large customers.

Under terms of the deal, Momentum will lease the lot adjoining Egghead’s center for $1 a year for four years, said Momentum executive director Susan Meyer. If Egghead reaches the jobs goal, it gets the land. If it doesn’t, the land costs $1,000 for every job under the goal.

EDC and Momentum officials declined to specify the goal, but two sources familiar with the deal said it is more than 300 jobs.

The Egghead incentives are unusual, but not unprecedented. Momentum in recent years contributed $50,000 to help train Harpers Inc. employees. Washington Water Power Co. sold the Boeing Co. its Airway Heights property for $100.

Momentum and the EDC made their contributions from “contingency funds” occasionally used to lure new companies to the area.

“This was a fantastic investment opportunity,” EDC president Bob Cooper said. “The first year payroll alone (at Egghead) could be $13 million.”

Cooper said he arranged the deal after Egghead threatened to put its center in Colorado Springs. The company worried that the Liberty Lake campus would not have room for future expansion.



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