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How A CEDS Process Can Guide a Vision That Makes Our Community Thrive

By Gary Ballew, VP, Economic Development and Jeff Marcell, Senior Partner, TIP Strategies

THRIVE Spokane is the name of a new comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) being developed for the greater Spokane region. It’s a vision coordinated in collaboration with community leaders to create a plan for a healthy and vibrant future. With funding from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) and in-kind contributions from economic development partners, Greater Spokane Inc. (GSI) is leading the effort with guidance from consulting firms, TIP Strategies, Inc. (TIP) and Maul Foster & Alongi, Inc. (MFA).

Why develop a CEDS?

Have you ever visited a community that just had a certain energy about it? A hustle at the coffee shop, or buzz around the diner? CEDS is a strategic plan that aligns a community around a common vision, creating opportunities for collaboration across the entire region. That collaboration leads to progress and momentum, economic growth, and diversification. The plan can also identify opportunities to create equitable growth, which aligns with the EDA’s investment goals. It is critically important to ensure that the Greater Spokane region’s community visioning process engages the broadest possible constituency to drive equitable and inclusive economic development for our community. Ultimately, the CEDS process will help us create a unifying vision focused on enhancing the economic prosperity of the Greater Spokane region over the next decade. 

How will THRIVE Spokane guide a regional vision?

By bringing the region together as a collaborative community, we hope to answer: where does the region want to be in the next ten to twenty years? To accomplish this, the community needs to define a vision for equitable growth and regional prosperity. In partnership with a diverse variety of voices, partners, and organizations, GSI, TIP, and MFA are collectively leading conversations throughout the region to define what this means for Greater Spokane’s future.

Ultimately, the CEDS will serve as a tool for economic development decision-making by guiding nearly all future efforts for our region—impacting areas from workforce development and talent attraction to industry networks and resources. When it comes to small businesses, the CEDS will shape future small business resources and support programs available to help businesses grow and become more resilient. With entrepreneurship, it will include strategies to boost innovation and technology to help our local startups scale. It will also address local workforce needs so businesses have access to the best talent to meet their business goals.

How are you reaching out to the community?

The project team has begun utilizing a variety of in-person and virtual community engagement methods including surveys, one-on-one interviews, focus groups, roundtables, social media, and open public input via public notice and comment. We will facilitate meaningful community conversations with small business owners, workforce practitioners, economic development professionals, educators, industry experts, residents, government officials, and are including those who have been left out of conversations in the past. These public outreach and engagement efforts will not only be used to recognize community partners and collaborators, but will also drive equity and inclusion in the CEDS economic development planning process.

When will the CEDS project take place?

The CEDS planning process launched in June 2021 and will continue through Spring 2022. The first phase of the project focuses on data collection and analysis from a variety of resources while the community engagement efforts discussed in detail above will occur throughout the entire duration of the project.

What can you do to help?

The CEDS process will guide our vision for our community, and we can’t do it without you. We invite you to stay informed and up to date by visiting thrivespokane.org. There, you can sign up for regular updates, review ongoing work and provide feedback.  

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