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Spokane CVB chief Harry Sladich resigns

Harry Sladich is president and CEO of Spokane Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau.  (Jesse Tinsley)

Harry Sladich, president and CEO of the Spokane Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, has resigned to take a senior-level job with Spokane-based Red Lion Hotels Corp.

Sladich, who’s 48, led the CVB for five years. The nonprofit group has been widely praised for its strong role in boosting convention visits and enhancing Spokane’s tourism profile.

His last day at the CVB will be April 23. He’ll start his job as Red Lion’s executive vice president of sales and marketing on May 3.

Sladich said he’s worked all his adult life in hospitality and tourism. He started working at the Sheraton Hotel (now the Doubletree) at age 17. He worked there until 1986. He added to his hotel resume by working several years for Spokane-based Sterling Hospitality Management. He then became operations manager at the Hotel Lusso before joining the CVB.

Sladich said he’s making a perfect career move to a strong company without having to leave the city he grew up in.

“I now have an opportunity to go back and work in the public sector and work for a publicly traded company that happens to be based in Spokane,” said Sladich.

“Those opportunities don’t come along that often.”

Sladich said he earned $122,000 a year at the CVB. He didn’t disclose his Red Lion salary, but it’s more than he now makes.

One area of focus will be helping the Red Lion group expand its network of franchised hotels, he said. The Red Lion has announced franchise growth will be a major part of its business strategy.

Sladich said he’s very familiar with franchising hotels. During his time at Sterling Hospitality, he helped the company prepare franchise deals for a number of hotel chains.

Lion has 45 hotels in eight states and one Canadian province. Its operations have about 8,600 rooms and 431,244 square feet of meeting space.