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Week in Review

Silver miners were bullish about their metal during the Northwest Mining Association’s annual conference in Spokane last week. New uses for silver and renewed investor interest are pushing up silver prices. That improvement creates ripples throughout the Inland Northwest economy, with silver miners pocketing bonuses tied to silver prices and mine owners and developers finding it easier to raise money for new projects. About 1,500 miners, geologists and company executives attended the convention.


For the first time, Americans’ use of credit cards, debit cards and other electronic bill paying eclipsed paper checks. The number of electronic payment transactions last year totaled 44.5 billion, exceeding the number of checks paid, at 36.7 billion, according to new Federal Reserve studies.

The unemployment rate in the Idaho Panhandle dropped to 6.7 percent in November, compared with 7.1 percent a year ago. The numbers reflect a strengthening economy in Idaho’s five northern counties, a state labor economist said.


Prolific construction of new homes and commercial buildings drove job growth on both sides of the Idaho-Washington border in the past year. The construction industry accounted for 30 percent of North Idaho’s new jobs; in Spokane County, 21 percent of new jobs were tied to construction.

Seven of the region’s Burger Kings are slated for possible closure as a result of the franchise owner’s financial problems. The owner, Garliz Investments LLC, asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to close the restaurants, which it describes as “underperformers.”

China’s biggest computer maker, Lenovo Group, said it has paid $1.25 billion for a majority stake in International Business Machines Corp.‘s personal computer business.


An economic development summit hosted by Spokane County drew 300 participants who produced a long list of ideas and goals. The event set the stage for a second meeting, to be held in February, which is expected to produce a system for tracking the key initiatives among area economic development groups and universities.

The developer of an office park east of downtown Spokane is applying to be the first in the city to use tax-increment financing to pay for improvements to his project’s streets, utilities and sidewalks.


The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut back on oil production early next year in a bid to stave off a further decline in the world price. Benchmark U.S. crude futures have fallen by almost a quarter since record prices of more than $55 a barrel in late October.


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