September 24, 2009 in Washington Voices

Spokane Valley, GSI address differences

Appleway-Sprague marketing plan to be ready by Oct. 1
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Greater Spokane Inc. intends to earn its full $60,000 donation from Spokane Valley next year with a strategy to market the city’s Sprague-Appleway Revitalization plan to businesses around the country.

The Spokane Valley City Council voted last week to withhold half of the grant if the regional economic-development organization doesn’t deliver a more aggressive plan to promote the city by Oct. 1.

Such a plan was already in the works, according to Jeff Severs, Greater Spokane Inc.’s chief operating officer.

He declined to comment on specifics of the plan, but said his organization will meet the Oct. 1 deadline. Mayor Rich Munson has scheduled a presentation at the Valley City Council’s Oct. 13 meeting.

Severs said Greater Spokane began working on ways to sell the Sprague-Appleway plan after a meeting a couple of months ago in which Munson and Spokane Valley City Manager Dave Mercier called for a marketing campaign.

“What we had promised to the mayor was to come back in early October with a plan, and that plan’s in the works,” Severs said in an interview. “That’s as the result of a series of meetings with the staff over there over the last month or so.”

If someone from Greater Spokane had said so at last week’s City Council meeting, Munson said, his comments “would not have been nearly as severe because all I was asking for was to do what they have done.”

But Greater Spokane didn’t send a representative to the meeting, at which the council doled out $142,500 in grants to economic-development and community-service organizations.

“Bad on us,” Severs said. “But we’ll continue to do more direct, face-to-face interface with the city and make sure that we’re meeting all of their expectations.”

Severs said Greater Spokane Inc. takes a regional approach to economic development, but cities often want to see results within their boundaries.

“I think we do need to communicate a little bit better exactly what we’re doing there for the city of the Valley,” Severs said. “I’ve had some follow-on dialogue with the city manager, in particular, and we think we’ll get this ironed out.”

Greater Spokane says it has given the city $200 million worth of economic development, a fivefold return on the $369,000 the city has given the organization since 2004.

That includes helping retain or expand 14 Spokane Valley businesses and recruiting six new ones, according to Greater Spokane business development director Robin Toth.

She said the retentions and expansions had a $149 million impact, including capital investment, construction jobs, salaries and benefits, and tax revenue to the city increased almost $2.5 million. Toth said the projects generated 586 direct jobs, 793 “indirect and induced” jobs and 567 temporary construction jobs.

Also, Toth said, Greater Spokane recruited six businesses to Spokane Valley that created more than $44 million of economic impact and more than $1 million in tax revenue. Those recruitments produced 242 direct jobs and 156 indirect and induced jobs.

Greater Spokane showed 75 properties in Spokane Valley to local, regional and national clients in the 12 months that ended last month, Toth added.

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