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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Tom Sowa

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News >  Business

Spokane County sees decline in ‘flipped’ home sales

Spokane County, like much of the nation, saw a decline in “flipped” home sales in the second quarter of this year. RealtyTrac said 55 Spokane homes were sold by flippers in the second quarter, down from 66 in the second quarter a year ago. The company tracks foreclosures and sales nationwide and collects an array of real estate data.

News >  Business

Bennett Block owner outlines renovation plans

Many developers start a multimillion-dollar renovation only after they’ve lined up a large tenant or two. But that’s not how Dru Hieber is proceeding in her plan to breathe new life into the historic Bennett Block.
A&E >  Food

E-cooperative connects farmers, buyers

For Beth Robinette and Joel Williamson, it’s a good time to try to help small farmers sell more of their food to Spokane restaurants, colleges and hospitals. Robinette, 26, and Williamson, 32, are the founders of LINC Foods – Local Inland Northwest Cooperative – a business experiment they hope will streamline how food services find and buy more local farm products.
News >  Business

NorthTown Mall getting an extreme makeover

The owners of Spokane’s NorthTown Mall are renovating the north-side façade as part of the shopping center’s makeover. Built in the 1950s, then renovated several times since, the city’s oldest shopping mall has looked dingy and unappealing to visitors driving south along Division Street.
News >  Business

Spokane roofing company owner alleges cybersquatting by rival

Two Spokane roofing competitors have ended up in court, wrangling over the ownership of the website SpokaneCommercialRoofing.com. Les Ludtke, owner of Spokane Commercial Roofing, is suing competitor Jeffrey Sitton, saying Sitton “cybersquatted” his website name, SpokaneCommercialRoofing.com, and caused his business financial harm.
News >  Business

Spokane County jobless rate up slightly from June

Despite solid gains in private jobs, summer layoffs at area universities and local school districts pushed Spokane County’s July unemployment rate up by two-tenths percent, to 5.7 percent, state officials said Tuesday. June’s revised jobless rate for Spokane was 5.5 percent. Washington state’s July jobless rate was 5.4 percent, up slightly from 5.3 percent in June.
News >  Business

Digital vigilance: Liberty Lake company helps stores fight theft, fraud

Grocery chains and retail stores are increasingly combating in-store theft and cashiers’ money mistakes by adopting advanced video surveillance systems that link every sales transaction to high-definition video. It’s not new for companies to use video surveillance, but software has become sophisticated enough to allow managers to quickly and precisely isolate issues, and powerful enough to generate analytics that help guide training and sales strategies.
News >  Business

Media company drops Internet piracy lawsuit against Spokane Valley man

The company that sued a Spokane Valley man over alleged illegal movie downloads has dropped the lawsuit, saying it achieved its intended result of curbing Internet piracy. Elf-Man LLC, an East Coast media company that created a made-for-video film called “Elf Man,” filed suit last November against Ryan Lamberson seeking unspecified monetary damages for copyright violations.
News >  Business

Spokane-area home sales rise in July

Spokane home sales picked up in July, but with minor drops in average and median sales prices, the Spokane Association of Realtors said. Home sales in July grew to 626, up from 600 in June, said Rob Higgins, the association’s chief executive.
News >  Business

Kendall Yards an instant hit

Spokane’s mixed-use Kendall Yards development has become so successful that would-be homebuyers or renters have to get in line. Vacancies or available homes are months out. The list of would-be buyers and renters grows by the week.
News >  Business

Colville boat builder Hewes Marine is expanding

Booming sales in the aluminum recreation boat industry has Colville’s Hewes Marine Co. expanding its production facility. The family-owned business, started in 1948, will spend about $2 million to add 19,000 square feet to its existing factory. When completed, the production plant will measure 59,000 square feet, said Clint Kirry, the company’s director of marketing and sales.
News >  Business

Spokane recovery lagging behind

More than 8 million jobs were eliminated across the country by the Great Recession; as the economy contracted, businesses failed or they endured by cutting workers. Spokane County felt its share of that pain with the loss of 14,200 payroll jobs between mid-2008 and mid-2010. Kootenai County was hit hard as well, losing 8,600 payroll jobs, according to federal data.
News >  Business

CenturyLink rolls out speedier Internet in some parts of Spokane

CenturyLink on Tuesday said it now offers 1-gigabit-per-second fiber-optic Internet service in parts of Spokane, looking to lure business customers away from cable or DSL. The expansion extends fiber service to downtown Spokane, some areas north of downtown, parts of Spokane Valley and portions of Airway Heights, said Tom Novotney, general manager for CenturyLink in Washington.
News >  Business

White’s Boots owners confident about sale

Gary March and his brother, Skip March, knew it was a big deal – selling a Spokane company that’s been a landmark and local legend for nearly 100 years. But White’s Boots, which has done business in Spokane since 1915, was facing a new set of challenges: The March brothers were approaching retirement and the company needed a larger partner to help it continue to grow.
News >  Business

Hart Capital Inland Northwest Index posts gain

The Hart Capital Inland Northwest Index posted a 6.3 percent gain during the second quarter, propelled by Avista Corp., Clearwater Paper and Hecla Mining. The chart tracks the stock prices of 12 publicly traded companies based in the Inland Northwest. The number shrank from 14 in the first quarter after Sterling Financial Corp. was acquired by Umpqua Bank and after Sandpoint retailer Coldwater Creek closed in bankruptcy.
News >  Business

Ex-tourism agency leader questions Grand Hotel Spokane’s ‘demand generator’ potential

The former president of Spokane’s tourism promotion agency says the new Walt Worthy hotel downtown lacks the brand-name recognition needed to attract significant new bookings for conventions and meetings. Harry Sladich, who headed the former Spokane Convention and Visitors Bureau and now is an executive at Red Lion Hotels, said Marriott’s Autograph Collection brand is not as widely known as the Marriott, Hyatt or Hilton names. Because of that, he believes the Grand Hotel Spokane could have trouble meeting expectations for room bookings in the future.
News >  Business

Red Lion Hotels selling Bellevue property

Red Lion Hotels announced plans to sell the chain’s Bellevue location, expecting to cash in on roaring property values in the Seattle area. Red Lion hasn’t set an asking price; it will offer the property to the highest bidder. Robert Anderson, an investment specialist for Seattle-based Kidder Mathews, which listed the property, said, “I’m not sure where the price could end up. Any definitive estimate of the sale price is difficult and will be decided by the market. The info sheet is:http://www.bellevuelandsite.com/
News >  Business

Columbia Banking System picks up Idaho’s Intermountain

Columbia Banking System, based in Tacoma, has acquired Sandpoint-based Intermountain Community Bancorp, the third-largest community bank headquartered in Idaho. The two companies announced Thursday they signed an agreement to merge in a stock-and-cash deal worth about $121.5 million, or about $18.22 per share, at Columbia’s current stock price. .
News >  Business

Spokane County’s jobless rate drops to 5.6 percent

Spokane’s slow but steady economic pulse picked up in June as the county’s jobless rate fell to 5.6 percent, the first time it dipped below 6 percent since 2008, the state Employment Security Department said. The county’s jobless rate in May was 6.6 percent.
News >  Business

Washington Trust purchases Ridpath Annex to accommodate workforce growth

Washington Trust Bank has purchased the empty Ridpath Annex with plans to convert the building into office space to absorb the bank’s downtown growth. The bank’s purchase brings an end to the once-ambitious plans of four development partners who bought the building eight years ago for conversion to condominiums.
News >  Business

White’s Boots of Spokane sold to Portland’s LaCrosse Footwear

White’s Boots, one of Spokane’s best known “made in America” manufacturing companies, has been sold to a Portland company with plans to expand production. The purchase price has not been disclosed by LaCrosse Footwear Inc., which sells footwear under the Danner Boots brand. LaCrosse is a subsidiary of Japanese company ABC-Mart Inc.