Nearly everything that GSI does in Economic Development, Education & Workforce, Small Business & Entrepreneurial Support, and Public Policy is done with the support of an engaged membership and more than 800 volunteers. We work in collaboration with our civic partners and appreciate the support of many federal, state, and local government agencies. On Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,000 attendees joined us for our 2015 Annual Meeting at the Spokane Convention Center. The afternoon was a time to highlight a year’s worth of hard work, success and growth, and to look forward to the priorities and opportunities in the year ahead.
GSI’s President & CEO, Steve Stevens, emceed the day’s program that started with recognition of the many generous sponsors whose support made our Annual Meeting possible. He also took time to recognize some of our region’s newest and expanding businesses who GSI assisted this past year. We welcomed AMI Metals, Comcast and Keystone Automotive Operations to Spokane and congratulated Able Label, Aero-Flite Incorporated, Lite-Check, NextIT, Pinecroft, Pyrotek and Seaport Steel on their recent expansions.
Annual Meeting guests were among the first to hear the exciting announcement made by Sam Auxier, President of U.S. Figure Skating and Olympic Medalists Kristi Yamaguchi and Gracie Gold on behalf of U.S. Figure Skating: Spokane was chosen as the host city for 2016’s Team Challenge Cup!!! Skate City USA responded to the information with a resounding Spokane-style standing ovation.
GSI’s outgoing Board Chair and Spokane Regional President at U.S. Bank, Linda Elkin, reflected on her time at the helm, recognized the investment of our members, Board, electeds and staff, and called out some especially important successes that occurred in collaboration with community partners over the past year:
- Advocacy for the state legislature’s expansion of four-year medical education here in Spokane, supporting both the creation of an independently accredited medical school at WSU Spokane and the expansion of the Spokane-based University of Washington School of Medicine’s WWAMI medical education program.
- Securing funding to purchase land in the Accident Potential Zone to protect FAFB from encroachment, strengthening the future mission potential of the base.
- Continued focus on Startup Spokane, GSI’s Entrepreneurship Program, to assist, develop, and celebrate entrepreneurship in the Spokane region, and renewed emphasis on Share Space Spokane, the program’s co-working space that grew into a larger location.
- Emphasis on small business support to reach out to this group that makes up the majority of our membership to promote new programs and services that are designed to help them grow.
- Receiving the ACCE Lumina Award for Education Attainment, a one-time $40,000 award to help support the vision of increasing the adult education attainment level of Spokane County from 40% to 60% by 2025 through an employer-led initiative focused on the ~74,000 working adults with some college, no degree.
- Promotion and advocacy for a regional and interstate transportation system. A $16.1 billion State Transportation package passed, which will fund multiple projects for our region such as $878 million for the North Spokane Corridor and $8.8 million for the U-District Gateway Bridge.
- Continued recruitment efforts for AIR Spokane, pitching the business case for the Spokane community as we work to innovate and improve our region’s air transport sector.
- Development of a strategic business plan for the Port District of Spokane, which will educate and inform voters on community needs, forecasted activities, authorities, construction, financing and development of a new Port Authority.
The event’s keynote speaker, Chuck Underwood, founder and principal of generational consulting firm The Generational Imperative Inc, is a pioneer in the field of generational study. He provides consulting, research, and training to American business, government, education, and religion on the subjects of Generational Workforce and Generational Marketplace Strategies. Chuck is the host of the PBS national-television series America’s Generations With Chuck Underwood and for 45 minutes he educated, entertained and surprised the room with insights and ideas about the challenges and opportunities each of the five living generations bring to the workplace. Learn more about Chuck’s fascinating work at genimperative.com
GSI’s Incoming Board Chair and Chancellor of Community Colleges of Spokane, Dr. Christine Johnson, concluded the day’s program with a look ahead and a call to fulfill our potential as an economic development powerhouse capable of growing profitable businesses that grow jobs and build a shared prosperity for current and future generations. She spoke of the need to retain our success in the areas of manufacturing, energy, IT, health and defense industries, while also attracting and launching emerging industries, including medical education and biomedical research. Dr. Johnson also spoke of the importance of recognizing higher education as a major industry with enormous economic impact and the need to work with higher ed institutions to build the workforce of the future. In collaboration with our region’s elementary and secondary colleagues, she said, the higher education leaders in our region are committed to unleashing the potential of our institutions as a major industry that not only distinguishes Spokane from other communities our size, but also develops and deploys talent that will become the innovative workforce that will make our region the envy of the nation.
MAJOR SPONSORS: Asuris Northwest Health | Bouten Construction | Eide Bailly | Kalispel Tribe of Indians and Northern Quest Resort & Casino | Northwest Farm Credit Services | Providence Health Care | Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane | Witherspoon Kelley
EDUCATION PARTNER SPEAKER SPONSORS: Community Colleges of Spokane | Eastern Washington University | Gonzaga University | University of Washington | Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane | Whitworth University
LUNCHEON SPONSOR: STCU
SUPPORTING SPONSORS: CliftonLarsonAllen LLP | Garco Construction Inc | IEDS Logistics | Inland Northwest Health Services | Integrus Architecture | Itron Inc | Journal of Business | Kiemle & Hagood Company | Lydig Construction Inc | Moss Adams LLP | Spokane Produce Inc | U.S. Bank
EVENT SPONSORS: CH2M | GeoEngineers Inc | Rentsys Recovery Services | Spokane Seed Company
AIRLINE SPONSOR: Southwest Airlines