Spokane County Population Growth Stalls After Big Surge In Early ‘90s

Spokane residents who get riled up over rapid growth can relax.

New population estimates by the State Office of Financial Management make it clear that Spokane is nowhere to be found among the top growth communities in Washington.

Fact is, Spokane ranks nearer the bottom.

The 10 fastest growing counties in Washington this decade, and their percentage increases, are:

Clark - 33 percent.

Jefferson - 29 percent.

Pend Oreille - 26 percent. With one of every four residents a newcomer, this rural Northeast Washington county is one of just two on this side of the state to make the top 10.

The other is Grant, which is tied with Mason and San Juan counities at 25 percent.

Thurston - 23 percent.

Skagit and Whatcom - 22 percent.

Kitsap - 21 percent.

Among Washington’s 39 counties - Spokane ranks 28th with a growth rate of just 13 percent.

Since 1990, the population of Spokane County has grown from 361,333 to 409,900 - or 48,567 - according to the state’s latest estimate.

But most of that growth came in the early and middle years of the decade, state demographer Theresa Lowe told me. “Spokane hasn’t looked at all good the past few years - especially this last year,” the researcher said.

Last year, net immigration - in-migration vs. out-migration - was just 1,480. That contrasts sharply with 7,000 as recently as 1995.

During the first half of this decade, the pace of net immigration averaged about 6,000 a year. “There’s been a real big slowdown,” analyst Lowe summed up.

Lou Barbieri left powerful legacy

Two weeks ago today, the business community bid a final farewell to the foremost developer of downtown during my 36 years of obverving and writing about the Spokane scene.

More than any other developer, Lou Barbieri has left his stamp on the center of our city - from the 1974 World’s Fair to the Nordstrom store, from Cavanaugh’s Inn at the Park to the Doubletree Hotel, from the Wall Street Trolley Mall to the reborn Crescent store, from Cathedral Plaza to the 1974-vintage Park Tower, still downtown’s loftiest spire.

Lou Barbieri was the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit.

One day perhaps a dozen or so years ago, I came across the dean of downtown developers standing on the sidewalk during a period of economic downturn in Spokane. Developers were moaning and cursing and crying in their beer. Lou Barbieri stood gazing up at one of his latest skycrapers with a bemused expression on his face.

We exchanged greetings and he said, “You know, Frank, there must be something wrong with me. Everybody talks about how awful this market is for developers in Spokane. They see nothing but problems.

“I, on the other hand, see nothing but opportunities,” Lou Barbieri said. “Am I that wrong?”

It doesn’t appear so.

Chamber lauds auto dealer’s commitment

A shift from “top-down management philosophy to one of shared organizational vision and employee empowerment” not only is a winner with a local auto dealership’s customers but with the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce as well.

“Employee satisfaction equals customer satisfaction,” says Chris Marr, general manager of Foothills Lincoln/Mercury/Mazda. It was the satisfied customers that so impressed judges in the chamber’s annual Agora awards competition that they recently accorded the auto dealer top honors for large employers.

“Foothills’ reputation for satisfaction before and after the sale is extraordinary,” wrote the judges. “The company’s and the owners’ commitment to changing the public’s perception to a postive attitude toward automobile dealers is highly commendable and it apparently is working.”

The chamber’s Agora awards for business excellence annually recognize outstanding entrepreneurs whose efforts contribute to the community’s economic and cultural richness.

Spokane Airways to host women pilots

Spokane Airways has been selected host for the International Organization of Women Pilots - the 99s - whose annual Northwest Sectional meeting is scheduled here next month.

The 99s took their name from the original 99 licensed women pilots who founded the organization in 1929. Now they number 7,000 around the globe. Members will fly into Spokane from throughout the United States and Canada for meetings Aug. 14 thrugh 17 at the Ridpath Hotel.

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

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