Connect Northwest, an economic development program launched a year ago by the Inland Northwest Technology Education Council (INTEC), will become a stand-alone agency, INTEC’s board agreed last week.
The action allows Connect Northwest to incorporate, set up a board and request nonprofit tax status, said Bill Kalivas, its executive director.
It currently is funded with $200,000 provided by Spokane County. Kalivas said he expects to seek an extra $100,000 from the county later this year. Connect Northwest will have a three-person staff, he said.
He’s also seeking contributions from area businesses.
Modeled after a similar program in San Diego, Connect Northwest aims to accelerate business growth by linking experienced professionals with those running promising start-ups.
Connect Northwest does not charge for the service.
“This is all due to the support we’ve received from INTEC,” Kalivas said.
As Connect Northwest evolves, INTEC’s own status as a nonprofit agency remains in doubt, said Executive Director Lewis Rumpler. State legislators did not renew funding for INTEC, created five years ago.
Except for some contributions and reserves, INTEC will effectively run out of money on July 1.
“We’ll have enough to operate on life support” with a skeleton crew, said Rumpler.
The agency had five full-time workers earlier this year. At present it has two-part time staff: Rumpler and operations manager Leslie Miller.
It’s possible the operation will continue through December, Rumpler added. “We plan to keep it viable until Dec. 31 and then revisit the question (of finding funding),” he said.
For the next few months, he and Miller will focus on two projects: providing support for Connect Northwest during its transition and trying to establish a scientific research institute in the community.
INTEC’s board also decided to shrink from 32 members to just seven, Rumpler said. “They felt that change correctly reflects the reduced operations,” he said.
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