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Four company founders lead a session on ‘I’ve started my company, now what?’

More ideas for people with new business ideas.

There's an entrepreneurial panel on Wednesday April 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the ShareSpace Spokane office on the third floor of Steam Plant.

It's free. It features Brandon Foote, founder and CEO of OnPoint Imaging; Laura Bracken, founder of Design Spike; Josh Neblett, co—founder of Green Cupboards, now renamed as etailz; and Steve Tabacek, co-founder of CXOWare.

The session is sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship at Spokane Community College, and Avista Corp.

To RSVP:  http://goo.gl/N6qmnV





Is 2014 your year to sell real estate? Learn why or why not Thursday

Is this the year to buy or sell a house?  Is this the year to get your Realtor's license and make big bucks?

Here's one opportunity to figure out those big question:  the 2014 annual Real Estate Market Forum, starting at 7:45 a.m. Thursday morning. That's tomorrow.  Registration at the door is $65.

The event will be inside the Spokane Convention Center.

Speakers will cover the past year and look ahead and provide handouts to share with work colleagues.

It's actually fun, even though it's mostly about real estate trends and scenarios.

The keynote will come from Selma Hepp, with the California Assoc. of Realtors.

Sponsors include the usual suspects, including Cowles Co., Avista Corp., the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors, Greenstonre, Valbridge Property Advisors and STCU.






That and other questions will be answered by a consulting economist for the National Association of Realtors at the Real Estate Market Forum, Thursday, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Spokane’s Ag Trade Center.



In his keynote speech, John Tuccillo, consulting economist for the National Association of Realtors, will discuss the economic future of the nation and Northwest.

Avista’s stake in Inland Empire Bioseeds plant comes to less than 1 percent

A Sunday business story about a bankruptcy filed by the managers of Inland Empire Bioseeds LLC mentioned in passing that Avista Corp. was a minority stakeholder in the for-profit operation. The plant is in Odessa.

What we didn't have at the time of publication was the amount of investment made by Avista in that project, which began making commercial biodiesel out of canola oil in 2009. It had the goal of producing 8 million gallons of fuel per year.

We tracked down Jessie Wuerst, who handles investor relations at Avista to get some information on the investment. Her answer is that Avista is an immaterial investor, meaning its shares come to less than 1 percent of the total.

It's also likely that Avista is among the creditors who together comprise about $2.6 million in unsecured debt.

Here’s the two-page severance deal Avista is offering workers for a buyout

Needless to say, the story about Avista Corp. offering buyouts to most of its workers, which ran online Tuesday, caught lots of attention. It engendered dozens of comments as well, covering the usual spectrum.

In case you want to know how generous (or not) the buyout from Avista is, we'll provide you the document sent around earlier this week. It's the full two-pager, but it's not necessarily the final version. As Avista moves forward, it's possible some of the terms may change slightly.

Anyway, this is how it reads:  Look for link below this box; document is a PDF. You will need Acrobat Reader, Foxit Reader or some other PDF viewer to read it.


Ecova building gets a brand new sign

Spokane's Ecova, which started life as Avista Advantage and went through a few name changes, has hoisted a new sign on its company office building, 1313 N. Atlantic. The most recent name was Advantage IQ.

The company, which manages and analyzes office energy consumption and billing, was recently featured as the April volunteer of the month for the City of Spokane Parks & Recreation Department.

Spokane’s Ecova part of Groom Energy’s list of “10 companies to watch”

Groom Energy has just released a list we'll call some attention to; it's a list of 10 smart-grid vendors to watch in the ongoing energy efficiency marketplace. 

Spokane's Ecova (formerly Advantage IQ, and before that, Avista Advantage) is among the 10. 

The group of 10 are all in the specific niche of "enterprise" grid-efficiency companies: The other nine are C3, CA Technologies,  EnergyCAP, EnerNOC, Lucid, Phoenix Energy Technologies, Schneider Electric, SCIenergy and Siemens.

Only Siemens, which operates across many industrial and some consumer markets, may be a familiar name.

We call out this list in part because we believe (sincerely) that the smart grid future is important and critical in helping the world better manage the energy needs of consumers and businesses. We also really don't see many stories that explain how companies like Ecova make a difference in the marketplace. 

They're clearly doing the job, and deserve ongoing coverage in the media.

EPA honors Spokane’s Ecova with 2012 Energy Star sustained excellence award

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded Spokane-based Ecova a 2012 Energy Star sustained excellence award, recognizing the company's commitment to energy efficiency.

Ecova, formerly Advantage IQ, is a spin-off company of Spokane-based energy utility Avista Corp.

The company, with offices across the states, provides energy audits and energy management for corporate clients.

A company press release noted that Ecova has been recognized by the EPA for eight straight years. This is the firm's sixth Sustained Excellence award.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Energy Star program. Energy Star is an international standard for energy-smart consumer products. It was launched as a U.S. government program during the early 1990s, but Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union have all adopted it as an energy savings program.

Spokane’s Ecova buys Georgia company Prenova. Really, names just coincidence

Spokane-based Ecova has completed the purchase of a Georgia-based competitor with the similar-sounding name of Prenova, Inc. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

Earlier this year Ecova renamed itself from Advantage IQ. The similar names is  pure coincidence. 

Ecova officials began moving toward the new name two years ago, well before discussions were launched to acquire Prenova, a company statement noted.

Both companies offer corporate energy management and efficiency services.

Prenova has roughly 80 corporate customers that are now part of Ecova’s portfolio. Most of those are in the southeast United States, according to a company spokeswoman.

The transaction is expected to be neutral to Ecova’s earnings in 2012. Prenova reported revenue of $12.4 million for the first three quarters of 2011. It reported the same sales for all of fiscal year 2010.

With the addition of the new clients, Ecova’s customer list now exceeds 600 and expands the company’s reach into the education and government sectors.

Advantage IQ was launched in 1997 as a subsidiary of Avista Corp. It now has more than 900 employees with offices in Cincinnatti, Portland, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle and San Francisco.

Top Avista Officials Rake In Coins

Item: Avista officers making more: SEC filing details greater compensation, stock awards received/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: Total compensation rose for Avista Corp.'s top executive officers in 2010 compared with the year earlier, according to the company's annual proxy statement filed on Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Scott Morris (pictured), Avista's chairman, president and chief executive officer, earned $3.24 million last year. That was a jump of more than $217,000 compared with 2009. He made $2.68 million in 2008.

Question: Are top Avista officials tone deaf when it comes to their salaries and compensation?