Spokane’s ranking for high tech and bio tech

Picture the patient tower at Deaconess Medical...

Image via Wikipedia

In a previous post, I cited the Milken Institute ranking Spokane near last for high tech businesses (see the “Tech Pole” rating) at 0.5 (on a 100.0 scale).

The other cluster pushed in Spokane is a “biotech/bioscience” cluster. On a revisit to the Milken page, I discovered they include 3 biotech related categories.

  • Spokane ranks 0.7 in the pharmaceutical area.
  • Spokane ranks 0.17 in the medical equipment area.
  • Spokane ranks 25 in the medical diagnostics area (thanks to PAML!)

I also looked at data provided by the Washington Workforce Explorer. As of 2008, there were 166 people (not including lower skilled technicians) working in the Spokane MSA in fields that could conceivably be research or product development oriented biotech/bioscience (job titles like chemist, biologist, medical science researcher). Not everyone is necessarily working in biotech/bioscience – this is just a count of potentially relevant job title/categories provided by the State. This count does not include lower level technician jobs.

In the entire state, there are 7,271 people in similar jobs (but adding categories that do not exist in Spokane such as biochemist, biophysicist and so on and again, not counting lower level technician jobs).

Therefore, about 2% of the biotech/bioscience jobs in the state of Washington (but not including lower level technicians) work in Spokane.

To put that in perspective, Spokane MSA has about 7% of the State’s population and the 2nd most populous city in the State.

Out of curiosity, I did a similar calculation for the “IT” field, which is another cluster marketed as part of Spokane.

There are 364 “programmers”, 512 “software engineers, applications” and 364 “software engineers, systems”.  Due to closures at Agilent and Itronix, and others since 2007, those numbers are likely a bit less today.

Using the 2008 numbers, Spokane has just 2% of the Washington jobs in those job categories.

The purpose of this exercise was to get a sense of the size of the biotech and IT clusters in Spokane relative to the State. We could quibble about the category definitions but miss the point – the relative magnitudes would still be about the same.

Spokane’s biotech and IT “clusters” are sufficiently small that an EWU study has said these clusters do not exist in Spokane today.


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