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Looking back at our region’s activity and accomplishments in 2017

As the calendar year comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment and look back at a busy year for the Spokane region. From new economic developments to anniversaries, celebrations, and more, it’s been a year to remember. Here are a few items that we found newsworthy throughout 2017. For additional information, check out our 2017 Annual Report. We hope you’ll join us for several great events and exciting work we’re doing in 2018!

Katerra selects Spokane for new facility

In late September, Katerra, a technology company redefining the construction industry, announced its plans to build a new mass timber facility in the Spokane Valley. The new facility will produce cross-laminated timber (CLD) and Glulam. Two projects in our region currently using Katerra’s materials are Pine Valley Ranch and River House Senior Apartments.

“We couldn’t be more pleased that they’ve chosen the Spokane region,” said GSI CEO Todd Mielke.

The 250,000 square foot building will employ 150 construction-specific jobs, occupy 29 acres of a 52-acre site, and will break ground in 2018.

GSI works everyday with companies to help them move, expand and stay in our region. Last year the companies assisted by GSI resulted in 506 direct jobs and $243 million in economic impact to our community.

Air Force assigns more KC-135s to Fairchild

Since our days as the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce, GSI has always advocated for our military bases and servicemen. This summer, our region received welcome news that Fairchild Air Force Base would receive an additional 12 KC-135 tankers, bringing its fleet total up to nearly 60 aircraft. This announcement meant that by 2020, Fairchild will be the largest tanker base in the U.S.

As our region’s largest single site employer, Fairchild currently employs 6,000 active duty airmen, and has 4,000 dependents attached to the base. It’s a vital part of our local economy, with an estimated $1.4 billion annual impact.

GSI works year-round to protect Fairchild, the more than 12,000 employed and to promote the base as a refueling center for excellence.

Read more about this exciting announcement on our website.

GSI launches Greater Minds

At the start of this year, GSI launched the education attainment initiative, Greater Minds. This initiative is aimed at increasing the percentage of residents in our area with a four-year degree or certificate to 60 percent by 2025. In Spokane County, there are 86,000 working adults who started some form of college education, but left it unfinished. GSI’s program connects working adults to a broad support network that helps them evaluate options and find opportunities to fulfill their goal.

An educated workforce means a healthy economy and thriving community. Visit our Education and Workforce page to learn more about all of GSI’s work to help our region’s students succeed.

40th Annual Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum

It’s a familiar sight each February to see large farming equipment rolling down Division Street and into the Spokane Convention Center for the annual Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum. With thousands of attendees each year and a wide array of classes, workshops, and career opportunities for students, this event serves as a hub for all things agricultural in our region.

Learn more about the Ag Expo and plan to be there for the 2018 trade show, Feb. 6-8!

GSI’s Annual Meeting

This year, GSI welcomed Bruce Katz, Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institute, to Spokane for our Annual Meeting. Katz is the author of The New Localism, a book arguing that cities are now on the front lines for funding new and exciting innovations at the local level. Speaking to an audience of around 900, Katz challenged the Spokane region to stay true to its own identity and not mimic any other community. Some exciting developments for Spokane’s future are visible in the VISION 2030 initiative.

“You are highly distinctive,” Katz said. “You don’t need to copycat. You need to double down.”

Spokane region submits a proposal to Amazon

Our region received quite a bit of attention as one of 238 proposals sent in by communities across North America to become the second headquarters location for Amazon. Working with members of our community to gather potential sites, various information requests, and providing a strong overview of our region, the proposal showcases the very best of our region.

In an article published by The Spokesman-Review, Mielke said, “Our goal as a community is to make sure we get on Amazon’s radar,” Mielke said. “There are communities all across the country where Amazon has a presence.”

The Amazon proposal is just one of many proposals GSI delivers each year, working with businesses across the nation to help position the Spokane region as an opportunity for expansion or relocation.

Triangle Venture Expo

Showcasing our region’s talented entrepreneurs, the second annual Triangle Venture Expo doubled its inaugural attendance. Taking place at the Fox Theater this year, seven companies shared their stories of developing their business and prospects for future growth.

Diane Fraiman, a partner with Portland-based Voyager Capital, served as keynote speaker for the day. Fraiman said having a strong higher education foundation, as well as strong resources for startup businesses to grow, as a reason to be optimistic as an entrepreneur in Spokane.

Visit StartupSpokane.com for more information about GSI’s startup and entrepreneurship program.

Government advocacy

Throughout the year, GSI took part in a number of efforts to make it easier to do business in the Spokane region. From working with Spokane City Council on their “Ban the Box” efforts, defeating a 20 percent surcharge to the business and occupation tax, advocating for $5 million for the University of Washington School of Medicine – Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership and advocating for $10 million for medical education at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, efforts from the Spokane business community have made a strong impact to our region.

Learn more about our efforts by visiting our Government and Regulatory Affairs page.

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