Is Spokane a “High Tech Hot Spot”?

Back in the crazy days of the dot com era, the Spokane area promoted itself as a “going to be” high tech hot spot for future growth. And it was, briefly. High technology, software, electronics and electronics manufacturing were to be the centerpiece of Spokane’s future economy. (By about 2005, this phase had passed and high tech largely vanished from local planning documents.)

But some of the promotion was “over the top” including the claim prominently displayed on several local web sites that “Spokane is a high tech hotspot” – Network World, referring to an alleged statement from Network World Magazine.

The claim is in the center of the Terabyte Triangle promotional web page:

In actual fact, Network World said that Spokane is NOT a high tech hot spot.

Network World magazine is available in the Google online library, and on August 3, 1998, Network World Magazine had an article titled “Outdoor Paradise” – with the subheading tag line “The golf is great and there are lakes aplenty. It’s Spokane – not yet a high tech hot spot but warming up“.

Graphic image of the Network World statement:

The claim is false. We have no idea where the claim originated, but it was subsequently copied by others and lives on today on the web.

This error seemed to have been admitted in 2009 when locals held a rally to persuade Google to set up a high speed test network in Spokane (Google chose not to) in hopes that it would establish Spokane as a high tech hot spot …

Spokane Unemployment

Historically, unemployment in Spokane is greater than the State wide unemployment rate:

The reference to “WDA 12” refers to the economic region of Washington where Spokane is located. The source for this chart is:

http://www.workforceexplorer.com/admin/uploadedPublications/9313_ChartBook2008_Wex.pdf

Spokane Crime Rates

The following chart is from Trulia.com and is based on year 2000 data:

Spokane’s property crime rate is nearly 32% or one-third greater than the overall property crime rate in the State of Washington.

Violent crime (murder, rape, etc) are much higher than that of the rest of the State. Violent crimes are 72% greater than the Washington State average.

 

Spokane Per Capita Income Compared to Washington State

Source of chart: http://www.workforceexplorer.com/admin/uploadedPublications/9313_ChartBook2008_Wex.pdf

Spokane is known for its inexpensive housing costs. Unfortunately, housing costs are a proxy for average wages in the area – in other words, wages, like housing, are low compared to major cities. As can be seen in the Household Income chart, below, Spokane household income is approximately 30% less than the Washington State average. Considering that within Spokane, 37.7% of all jobs are government, health care or education, which are generally on par with the state average, this implies that the rest of the jobs have much lower wages. As shown in a separate post on this site, software programmers in Spokane earn 38% less than their counterparts in Seattle.

This chart, from Trulia.com, shows similar values but for a more recent year, than above: