May 11, 2005 in Business

City trails in tech job creation

By The Spokesman-Review
 

While Washington ranks top in the nation for creation of technology companies, Spokane comes in third in that category compared with other cities around the state.

According to an annual Index of Innovation and Technology just released by the Washington Technology Center, Spokane falls behind Seattle and Vancouver in the number of technology start-ups.

That measure, according to the authors of the report, gauges the level of business formation occurring in each city.

The numbers used by the WTC, based in Seattle, all date from 2003, said spokeswoman Kerry Alexander.

Seattle’s metropolitan area, which includes Bellevue, saw 986 tech companies started in 2003, according to the report. Vancouver produced 81 new companies. Spokane produced 76, according to Alexander.

The WTC, which promotes technology investment and growth, ranked 12 metropolitan areas in the state on patent activity, new company creation, technology job growth, private investment, tech-industry growth, high school graduation rate, housing affordability and crime rate. Other factors were also examined, including daily commute delays.

Spokane ranked best only in housing affordability.

Spokane had the third-highest violent crime rate, behind Tacoma and Bremerton, according to the WTC index. In the property crime index, Spokane scored second behind Yakima.

When comparing high technology companies to total establishments, Spokane ranked sixth out of the 12 regions.

Spokane ranked third, behind Bellingham and Seattle, in the rate of private investment activity during 2003, the study said.

For total technology employment, Seattle was first with 215,456 jobs; second was the Tri-Cities with 17,442; Spokane came in third with 13,036, Alexander said.

Based on those 2003 numbers, five of the 12 metro areas, including Spokane, showed a net loss of tech jobs that year. The other four were Bellingham, Seattle, Wenatchee and Yakima.

Spokane lost about 3 percent of its tech-sector jobs in 2003, or roughly 400 positions, according to the WTC.

Of the seven metros in the state that gained tech jobs in 2003, Pullman had the largest gain, Alexander said.

The study reported that tech jobs, on average, account for 11 percent of all Washington state jobs, one of the highest percentages in the country. Spokane’s tech jobs account for 7 percent of the county’s total.

The WTC has conducted the Washington state tech index since 2000.

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