Greater Spokane has grown into the second largest metro area in the state of Washington and a significant economic driver for the Inland Northwest. The region is home to dynamic industries ranging from aerospace and life sciences to advanced manufacturing and agriculture, a full spectrum of higher education institutions, and a collaborative philanthropic and nonprofit community. Greater Spokane also boasts a high quality of life, amenities for its residents and visitors, and a unique blend of outdoor recreation. However, the lasting impacts of historical inequities created by eminent domain, redlining, and other policies have continued to linger in the region. Additionally, inequities in access to affordable housing, high quality education, and reliable broadband were dramatically accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues would need to be addressed to chart a more resilient and equitable future.
With these considerations at the forefront, Greater Spokane Incorporated engaged TIP Strategies in June 2021 to prepare an updated five-year comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) for Spokane County. TIP undertook robust data collection and analysis, stakeholder engagement, and best practices research to shape the strategies that would leverage the region’s strengths and mitigate its vulnerabilities. More than 1,000 survey responses helped identify where community members wanted the regional economy to be in 10 to 20 years. This information was used to articulate a broad regional vision statement for the CEDS focused on embracing the community’s creativity, connectivity, and competitive advantages to ensure resilient and inclusive growth. Four guiding principles were developed as a direct response to the region’s most complex challenges and compelling opportunities. The strategies and actions within the resulting plan were organized around these ideas: 1) prepare the region to avoid, withstand, and recover from economic shocks and natural disasters; 2) position Greater Spokane to attract talent, capital, and resources; 3) address outcome disparity through intentional initiatives; and 4) promote connectedness and cross-sector partnerships.