Facing declining government support, Spokane’s International Trade Alliance has agreed to merge with Greater Spokane Incorporated.
The alliance was created in 1996 to promote international business by regional companies.
Local groups that year backed its creation after the city of Spokane disbanded its international development office. The first group of supporters included Spokane’s Regional Chamber of Commerce, which became GSI.
ITA Board Chair Victor Vera announced the GSI plan at last week’s ITA annual meeting.
Over the past decade, the ITA received funding from Spokane County, the city of Spokane, city of Spokane Valley and other government sources. That funding has shriveled as federal, state and local budgets have shrunk, said Matt McCoy, ITA’s executive director.
Spokane County has authorized $76,500 for the ITA for 2013, the same amount as it received last year. The county money is the single-largest source of funds for the trade group with an annual budget of about $150,000.
Like other county-funded economic development groups, the ITA gives twice-yearly summaries and updates on expenditures.
ITA’s session with the county is in May.
Jennifer Stapleton, the county’s grants administrator, said commissioners may continue to fund the ITA if it merges with GSI. That decision will follow the May meeting, she said.
McCoy said he knows the county has concerns that ITA has struggled to find new sources of funding to offset those lost in recent years.
Moving the ITA into the GSI building makes sense for both groups, said Jeff Philipps, president of Rosauers Supermarkets and chairman of GSI’s board of trustees.
“ITA’s economic development work matches up well with GSI’s goals, to grow jobs and business investment,” he said in a release.
No deadline for the decision has been set.
McCoy said the merger could happen within two weeks.The ITA currently has the director’s job and two part-time staff workers.
McCoy said the expectation is to then have just one person. “That could be me, or it might not be me,” he said.