Entrepreneurship in Spokane

From Journal of Business Insert on 10/6/2016Entrepreneurship in Spokane

By Steve Trabun, Regional Business Manager, Avista Corp., and University District Board Vice Chair

Earlier this year, Spokane was fortunate to host Steve Case, Founder of America Online. In addition to his journey with AOL, Steve talked about how innovation and entrepreneurship are no longer confined to places like Silicon Valley, but are flourishing in cities across the United States. His recommendations for our region are to create a community of connectedness and to focus on two or three areas that play to our strengths.

At every point of the compass in our city, especially in The University District, you will see the entrepreneurial ecosystem booming. All of the critical elements to fuel an innovation economy exist here, including eight regional colleges and universities, access to capital, as well as a high growth companies who collectively employ thousands across technology, robotics, health and life sciences, advanced manufacturing and more. Our region has not only analyzed our strengths but also addressed any gaps in resources and services that could impede the growth of new and existing businesses.

Entrepreneurship is just one economic development driver in our region. Equally important is retaining a greater percentage of the newly educated workforce, many of whom previously relocated to larger cities for higher paying jobs. Regardless of whether graduates relocate elsewhere, our region remains focused on creating high growth companies across a multitude of industry sectors, which provide high wage jobs. A critical mass of companies and jobs will enable us to attract and keep top talent in our city.

Startup Spokane, a program of Greater Spokane Incorporated, is a gateway for our entrepreneurial community, providing a variety of services and resources for new business owners and startup teams including:

  • Spaces and places for people to work, meet and share experiences such as coworking spaces, commercial kitchens, maker spaces, and research labs.
  • Education across a multitude of disciplines, with entrepreneurship being taught as an interdisciplinary approach.
  • Access to health and life sciences research led by our universities, public and private sector organizations.
  • Incubators and accelerators for startups such as Ignite Northwest’s program for high growth technology, health and life sciences; Toolbox for product-based manufacturing startups; and McKinstry for second stage technology companies.
  • Extensive network of mentors, advisors and industry specific experts providing assistance to startups facilitated by Startup Spokane.
  • Access to capital via traditional/non-traditional financing options such as angel and seed investments, revolving loan funds, and venture capital.
  • Service providers with an affinity for early-stageentities that provide countless hours of subject matter expertise and advice to emerging and growing companies.
  • Regular networking and educational events to maintain a strong sense of connectedness and collaboration.

The University District, at the heart of Spokane’s research and entrepreneurial ecosystem, provides the perfect canvas for emerging high growth companies in technology, robotics, and life and health sciences. Intentional efforts to create, expand and recruit high growth companies to The University District will, in turn, attract housing, retail, hospitality and other service-based companies who will collectively enhance the work, live, learn and play environment in The University District.


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