History of Spokane Economic Plans – Part 7 – Too Many Studies!

Part 7 was going to be a set of recommendations. However, after reading and re-reading old economic development studies for the area, I decided that there is very little new to say that hasn’t already been written in the previous studies. I will hold off on recommendations until Part 8.

No one follows through with these past studies. They are all much the same – only the authors, the wording, the sponsors, and the length changes but the conclusions are much the same:

  • Spokane has chronic low wages and high poverty
  • Old: We need to attract good businesses to the area.
  • New: We need to focus on “industry clusters” of government/education, regional health care services, warehousing and distribution (trucking and railroads) and get excited about a bioscience sector that is about as likely to happen as was the high tech mecca proclaimed a few years ago.
  • Now we call it an “innovation economy” – a concept I agree with but which is not going to happen in Spokane.

One important recommendation would be to give responsibility and accountability to the study authors to make some of their recommendations happen. As it is, the study authors measure success by how many reports they produce and not whether they ever solve anything.

After revisiting all these studies, I found myself feeling cynical about Spokane and its economic future. The economic development studies have little value because there is no long term follow through. Other than a brief bit of excitement at the conclusion of yet-another study, everyone forgets about it and we return right back to where we were – or worse.

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