Greater Spokane Incorporated unveiled a new brand Thursday, which its chief executive officer says better reflects the organization’s dual role of recruiting new businesses while helping existing local companies grow.
GSI formed in 2007 when the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce merged with the Spokane Area Economic Development Council. The nonprofit has 1,200 members employing about 100,000 workers and a track record of uniting business and community leaders around efforts to build a strong local economy, said Todd Mielke, GSI’s CEO.
“We’re by far the largest business organization in Eastern Washington,” he said.
Mielke unveiled the new brand at the organization’s annual meeting at the Spokane Convention Center, before a sold-out crowd of 930 people. GSI will keep its name, but has a new logo and tagline.
“Together We’re Greater” is the new tagline, replacing “Creating Something Better.”
Mielke was hired at GSI about 2 1/2 years ago. One of the directives he received from the board was to finish the integration of the chamber and EDC. The new brand reflects that work while recognizing past achievements, Mielke said.
Spokane’s first chamber of commerce was organized in the late 1800s. Over the decades, the business community has helped push many big projects forward, he said.
In the 1920s, Spokane’s business leaders supported the Columbia River irrigation project. In the 1940s, they led efforts to buy the land where Fairchild Air Force Base is now located and turn it over to the federal government for an air depot. In the 1960s, they worked with the city of Spokane to establish Spokane International Airport on the West Plains, after it become apparent that Geiger Field was facing space limitations.
More recently, GSI has been part of efforts to establish the Riverpoint campus east of downtown Spokane, where multiple universities offer classes, and to bring a four-year medical school to Spokane, Mielke said.
GSI continues to bring community and business leaders together to work for change, he said. One of the organization’s key initiatives is the infrastructure businesses need to thrive, whether that’s roads or affordable housing, Mielke said.
Developing the local workforce is another key initiative, he said. GSI has programs that introduce teachers and students to career possibilities at local businesses. The organization’s Greater Minds program encourages companies to grow talent from within by supporting employees who go back to school to earn a degree or a certificate.