Week in review
Bellevue-based Ascentium Corp. has purchased Spokane advertising agency miller.whiterunkle and appointed longtime area business executive Kim Pearman-Gillman to be the Spokane manager. Ascentium said it will move its 12 Spokane branch office employees into miller.whiterunkle’s downtown office.
The Federal Communications Commission, overturning a 32-year-old ban, voted to allow broadcasters in the nation’s 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was joined by his two Republican colleagues in favor of the proposal, while the commission’s two Democrats voted against it.
•A new partnership offers regional high-tech startups free or reduced-cost legal help in protecting perhaps their most valuable assets: their intellectual property. Since this fall, four Gonzaga University School of Law students have helped clients of Spokane business incubator Sirti guard their technology and business interests under the guidance of local patent attorneys.
More than 20 million families will be spared an extra $2,000 tax hit on average after Congress excluded them from a higher alternative tax originally aimed at untaxed multimillionaires. An eleventh-hour vote to put a one-year freeze on growth of the alternative minimum tax shields many middle- and upper-middle-income taxpayers from first exposure to the tax. In 2006 it affected 4 million.
•The IRS and a law firm for two Northwest attorneys involved in the River Park Square garage bonds have settled an investigation into the sale of bonds which were at the center of a federal securities fraud suit. The settlement closes the investigation into allegations that the two attorneys, Mike Ormsby, of Spokane, and David Thompson of Seattle, did not perform “due diligence” on all aspects of the mall project before the foundation they represented sold $31 million in bonds to investors as tax-exempt.
Greater Spokane Incorporated has received $90,000 to help build a new corps of architects, engineers and accountants, professionals whose skills will be in short supply within a decade, a state estimate says.
•A plan to generate electricity from the motion of waves has been approved by federal energy regulators, but the project faces more scrutiny before specially designed buoys begin bobbing off the Olympic Peninsula. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued British Columbia-based Finavera Renewables a license for its wave-energy pilot project near Cape Flattery, along a turbulent stretch of the Pacific coast.
•A second debt-rating agency has restored an investment-grade rating to Avista Corp., a change that reflects the Spokane utility’s improving financial condition. Moody’s said Thursday the upgrade was based on the sale of Avista Energy Inc., a subsidiary involved in the high-risk business of traded electricity and natural gas, and increases in Washington customers’ electricity and natural gas rates that will kick in Jan. 1.