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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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County postpones economic summit

Spokane County officials say they’ve postponed the second round of an economic summit to better define its goals before asking participants to regroup.

In December, then-Spokane County Commissioner Kate McCaslin convened the summit in downtown Spokane to define clearer lines of responsibility between area economic development groups. Another goal was to produce a better set of measures for those groups to use in tracking progress. The county, she pointed out then, is the largest contributor to those agencies, providing around $400,000 a year. The county spent between $20,000 and $25,000 hosting the five-hour event.

At the time, McCaslin said a follow-up meeting to move forward with ideas was to be held in late January or early February.

McCaslin left the County Commission in late December.

Her successor, County Commissioner Mark Richard, said the summit’s second session will occur in late March or early April.

That gives Richard and fellow new commissioner Todd Mielke more time to meet and talk with economic development leaders and corporate leaders to identify the next session’s focus.

“We don’t want to just have another meeting for the sake of doing something,” Richard said.

One goal on his radar, he said, is to gain a clearer understanding of the community’s economic development resources.

He said he’s also taking time to assess how people feel about what’s being done with economic development.

“I’m trying to meet with (the area’s) major employers and ask what they think is currently lacking in our ability to provide more prosperity for people here,” he said.

The December meeting attracted more than 300 participants. Some of those on hand said the meeting drew such a wide variety of viewpoints that progressing to the next step would be difficult.

Erik Skaggs, the county’s economic development director, said that’s not the case.

While “throwing open the doors does give us more to chew on,” it also provided a wider set of opinions for policymakers to consider, and that’s valuable, Skaggs said. That diversity ensured that viewpoints about daycare, about sustainable growth and about equity issues were added to the traditional mix, Skaggs said.

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