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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

LaunchPad to focus on new program

After more than a year of testing the idea, a Spokane group will formally launch a networking service to help startup companies grow and add jobs. That idea, called Connect Northwest, will be unveiled by Spokane-based INTEC at the next LaunchPad event on May 20.

INTEC — The Inland Northwest Technology Education Center — will operate the Connect program, which is underwritten by a $100,000 Spokane County economic development grant that’s being matched by local companies and organizations.

“Connect Northwest will be a catalyst for growing the Inland Northwest innovation economy and will facilitate the creation of regional wealth and high-wage jobs,” said Lewis Rumpler, INTEC’s CEO. The concept involves creating a network of professionals who are involved closely with young companies as they grow and overcome challenges.

The Spokane version is based on the first Connect program, which was created 25 years ago by the University of California at San Diego, Rumpler said.

LaunchPad, an annual technology celebration and networking party, runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Big Easy Concert House in downtown Spokane. It’s free and includes refreshments, product displays and demonstrations, plus prizes.

During the event, INTEC will present an award to a local technology company for “2004 innovative product of the year,” said Bill Kalivas, the group’s director of business development.

In addition, Tom Turner, CEO of Spokane-based Itronix Corp., will offer an overview of the Northwest Coalition for a Safer America, an organization recently created to build higher visibility for area companies involved in homeland security-related areas.

Turner will also describe new developments at Itronix, which makes rugged computers used by the military, first-response teams and companies around the world.

Another presentation will detail plans to finish deploying equipment to turn a 100-block section of downtown Spokane into a free Wi-Fi zone for wireless communications.

The city of Spokane, the Downtown Spokane Partnership, OneEighty Networks, Itronix, Vivato and other companies have worked together to build the network, which is already running.

Mike Edwards, president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, said the zone in the downtown core is likely the largest of its kind.

“Spokane’s downtown already has 130 companies that are tech-based or use technology,” he said. As an economic development tool, the Wi-Fi zone will help that number grow, he said.

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