Congratulations to Spokane on attracting another small distribution center. However, let’s be honest: A modest Caterpillar warehouse with a few dozen nonunion blue-collar jobs will not exactly “make” our city.
The real challenge is attracting and keeping highly educated young people who will build whole new companies here in Spokane. Seattle did not grow by attracting warehouses from distant companies; it grew from spawning world champs like Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon and Costco.
Portland developed through homegrown Nike, Freightliner, Tektronix and Columbia Sportswear. The Bay Area grew from local stars Apple, Intel, Google, Wells Fargo, Chevron, Clorox – even Caterpillar, which first hatched as a California farm tractor builder.
To grow companies like those we need some new assets:
1) A university that breeds innovation, patents and – most of all – PhDs who want to stay here.
2) Lively, pleasant, in-city neighborhoods that draw childless professionals.
3) A secular culture that embraces the new.
That means investing in higher education, controlling sprawl, embracing bicycles and being more open-minded – all of which we are already beginning to do. So let’s keep it going and grow a Spokane that grows companies!
For now, good luck with that new warehouse.