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Spokane economy earns high ranking

TUESDAY, SEPT. 16, 2008

Coeur d’Alene is No. 2 among smaller U.S. cities

Propelled by long-term job growth and an increase in the value of high-tech goods produced by its economy, Spokane ranked No. 35 of the 200 largest, “best performing” metro areas measured annually by economic think tank Milken Institute.

Spokane jumped 46 spots on the list – which measures areas’ abilities to create and maintain jobs – making it one of the biggest gainers this year.

Coeur d’Alene earned the No. 2 rank among the 124 smallest cities measured, posting high numbers in five-year job growth (No. 3 nationally) and job growth for the year ending in March (No. 2 nationally). It was No. 6 overall last year.

“Despite the housing downturn,” the report by Milken and Greenstreet Real Estate Partners states, Coeur d’Alene’s “fast-growing tourism industry has recently been a major engine of growth, adding 1,800 new jobs in 2007 alone.”

The report also calls Coeur d’Alene “a regional health-care hub; hospitals and health-care services accounted for 51.7 percent of job growth from 2006 to 2007.”

Spokane placed No. 6 for one-year high-tech gross domestic product growth from 2006-07, at about 7 percent above the national average for that category. The city also was about 6 percent above the average for five-year job growth.

Citing past favorable rankings by Forbes and Inc. magazines, Rich Hadley, president and CEO of Greater Spokane Inc., called the report “a validation.”

“It shows we’ve moved up well in all of those as a much more prominent midsized city in the country than maybe we were 10 years ago,” Hadley said. “And, frankly, this current economy aside, I don’t see anything that would deter us from continuing to grow and prosper.”

Despite less-than-average job growth for the year ending in March, Spokane maintained wage growth even when pay was flat elsewhere, noted Kevin Klowden, a managing economist for Milken.

Reach Parker Howell at (509) 459-5491 or at

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