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Increasing Connectivity Through Strategic Partnerships

By Joey Gunning, Strategic Growth Manager, GSI

Joey Gunning at Spokane Public Library

We recently had the privilege of launching the Spokane region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) called THRIVE Spokane, alongside many of our economic development partners across the county. THRIVE Spokane serves as our community’s roadmap to guide economic development efforts across Spokane County for the next five years. The CEDS process involved robust stakeholder engagement to identify the region’s most pressing challenges and greatest opportunities to reduce economic barriers and increase economic opportunity for all. Four guiding principles were developed as a direct response to these challenges and opportunities: Recovery & Resilience, Competitiveness, Equitable Growth, and Connectivity. The concept of Connectivity encompasses not only physical infrastructure but also promotes the interconnectedness of people and drives strategic partnerships to align efforts that advance economic opportunity. As the Spokane region’s business development organization, it’s important that our work aligns with the goals and strategies within the CEDS.

Supporting startups is one important focus of economic development and the CEDS Strategy. StartUp Spokane exists to connect entrepreneurs to the resources they need to launch and grow a successful business. In partnership with the Spokane Public Library, StartUp Spokane offers free one-on-one assistance to all entrepreneurs, directing them to the appropriate resources and tools to be successful. We have over 30 highly qualified mentors who are looking to give back to the startup community and help build more great businesses in our region. In addition, we host a regular series of events called JumpStart. The goal of this series is to feature our own local entrepreneurs who share tips, tricks, and stories about how to become and stay successful.

Of course, whether you’re working on a new venture, running a small business, or working remotely – comfortable, affordable shared work environments is a need for all entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers. This is why we are thrilled that the Spokane Public Library recently opened its doors to the newly renovated Central Library. Located in the heart of downtown Spokane, the Central Library has been transformed into a citywide hub of innovative 21st-century library services and includes several meeting rooms, event areas, and a Business Lab with two reservable co-working spaces. This space is designated for businesses/startups/remote workers. The coworking space is free and is available on a first-come, first-serve basis so get there early if you want to have a seat! To learn more about the space or how to make reservations, you can contact Business Research Librarian Mark Pond at mpond@spokanelibrary.org.

As we begin to move forward with the implementation of the CEDS, we are excited to lean on our partnership with the Spokane Public Library to help promote the interconnectedness of Greater Spokane. Strategy 4.2 (page 30) of the CEDS is to “Bolster and continue to align the network of entrepreneurial support organizations and resources,” which includes supporting the development of flexible spaces that accommodate growing startups (see strategy 2.2.1 on page 24). To help support these efforts, I will be working regular office hours from the Central Library Business Lab to assist entrepreneurs and help drive the strategic partnerships called out in the CEDS. At Greater Spokane Inc., our vision is a vibrant Spokane region where businesses and communities thrive. Through our partnership with the Spokane Public Library, we hope to continue driving strategic economic growth in the region for the next five years and beyond.

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