Non-stop flights from Spokane International

Spokane International provides non-stop flights to 12 airports year round. 3 of the destinations are all in the SF Bay Area so its non-stop to 10 geographic destinations. The 13th destination is seasonal only.

SeaTac in Seattle serves 19 International destinations and 73 domestic airports.

The number of cities that can be reached via non-stop flights can impact the type of industry in an area. If your business requires travel by employees, clients or vendors to and from many locations in the U.S., you will want to locate in a city having a large number of non-stop destinations. Otherwise, time spent sitting in airports making flight transfers is potential down time for staff and clients.

Spokane International Airport handled more passengers in 1996 than it does in 2010. In spite of the lack of passengers, SIA is completing a $30 million extension to a runway and next year, another $30 million will be spent to remove a dip in a runway. The longer runway will, they say, enable the airport to serve more distant locations than it does today.

Spokane International Airport does not have any international flights.

Destinations reached non-stop from Spokane (embedded chart comes from but may no longer be accurate as of February 2011):

Is Spokane a High Tech Mecca?

Downtown Spokane web site (July 2010):

Spokane is already home to high-tech firms including General Dynamics, Cyan, Vivato, Telect and Itron. This clustering of mutually beneficial businesses provides a synergism that attracts businesses providing support services to help high-tech companies grow.

That would be a good description of “industry clustering” except that:

  • General Dynamics’ Itronix division in Spokane Valley, Wa, closed in 2009.
  • Vivato of Spokane Valley, Wa closed in 2006.
  • Telect laid off most of its 1,360 local workers and now employs 100+ 80 in Liberty Lake, Wa. (April 7, 2011, Journal of Business, page A17)
  • Cyan Worlds, located outside Spokane in Mead, Wa, has scaled back.
  • Itron moved to Liberty Lake.

Sadly, the “synergism” of “mutually beneficial businesses” has been broken as dozens have left the area or scaled backLess than 1/2 percent of all jobs, for example, involve creating software solutions. According to the Milkin Institute, Spokane ranks very low as a place to run a technology business.

Area promoters have stated since 2004 that downtown is home to 150+ technology-based businesses. It is unclear where the estimate comes from but it was first used and posted on the Fernwell Building web site in 2004 – and the 150 number has remained constant ever since.

Spokane Job Openings by Required Degree

The following chart shows the type of degree required for job openings in Spokane. Surprisingly, the demand for college degrees, especially advanced degrees, is very low in Spokane. In 2008 and 2009, the relative demand for advanced degrees increased. This occurred because of the overall economic downturn – employers have a “buyers” market which means that the most overqualified are more likely to get hired … and the least skilled were likely to get fired (they are also the easiest to replace when the economy improves).

Relative to the supply, in Spokane about 9-10% have an advanced graduate or professional degree – but job demand for such individuals is in the low single digit percentages. Similarly, about 20% have a 4 year degree but annual demand for such people runs between about 7% and 20%. Consequently, Spokane appears to have a more educated supply of labor than the local market demands at present.

Data Source:

Percent of Spokane Students Taking the SAT

In Spokane, the percent of high school seniors taking the SAT exam has fallen sharply in the past few years. Elsewhere, the number of students taking the SAT, nationally, reached an all time high in 2007 and again in 2008.

In 2009 in Washington, 53% of graduating seniors had taken the SAT but just 38% in Spokane had done so:

“Average combined scores for the US and Washington were 1,016 and 1,055 respectively. In 2009, 53 percent of Seniors in the State took the test. Over the last seven years, combined SAT scores in Spokane County have been 1-17 points less than the statewide average and 23-41 points higher than the national average.”

Data Source: This site, from EWU, is an excellent source of data.

Spokane Health Care Costs

As a regional health care delivery center, there are many providers of health care services in Spokane. But oddly, health care prices in Spokane are higher than the comparable city of Boise, and are higher than those charged in Seattle. Spokane’s health care prices are 8.3% higher than the national average.

Long term elder care in Spokane also costs more than in Seattle.

Source: 2010 Spokane Vitals

Spokane Incomes Compared to Similar Cities

The following chart is courtesy of the City of Boise. Cities generally pick similar sized cities to compare their own city’s economy. Spokane picks Boise as a comparable city, and Boise picks Spokane as comparable, therefore, the following data is relevant:

Some newer data might be the following from 2008 (but source not yet verified):

  • 2008 Spokane median household income: $41,588
  • 2008 Washington state median household income: $58,078

On a statewide basis, the average Spokane household income is 28% lower than that for Washington State.

What This Means
In Spokane, most government, health care and education workers earn salaries similar to those in more expensive cities on the west side of the state.

Most other workers, however, earn substantially less.

Spokane’s workforce seems split in to two worker classes – those in the core group of government, health care and education – and everyone else.

Read more of this post

Spokane Ranks Low for High Tech Business

The State of Washington has established a centralized, top-down, government managed economic plan known as “industrial clusters” – read the background here. Spokane has been identified for a handful of clusters other than high tech. A consequence is that critical support for a high tech eco-system has vanished.

The following two items are from the linked text on industrial clustering.

  • The Milkin Institute established a measure of a region’s capacity for “high tech” known as the “Tech Pole” rating. In overall tech, Silicon Valley ranks the highest at 100.0 (Seattle is 47) and Spokane ranks 0.5. As we dig down, in the area of Software, Seattle ranks 100.0 and Spokane ranks 0.01. In electronics, Spokane ranks 0.04. (See
  • Illustration of the lack of a tech ecosystem: In the entire Spokane region, there is only one Masters level technology degree – a single MS in computer science at EWU. There are no other technical or engineering Masters degrees or PhDs in the area.  In science, EWU also offers one Masters in biology, and WSU-Spokane offers an MS in exercise science.

The “Tech Pole” rating puts Spokane in a virtual last place position for conducting a high tech business. Spokane lacks a strong tech ecosystem necessary to support high tech businesses today. Read more of this post