Spokane-based AmericanWest Bancorporation to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The parent company of AmericanWest Bank will file Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the Court would supervise a competitive bidding process for the Bank’s common stock“. The retail AmericanWest Bank will remain in operation.

Third Quarter Results

While the news sort of spins this story as a positive, here’s the bottom line:

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Spokane area firm Itron Announces Record Quarterly Financial Results

Itron, Inc. – Itron Announces Record Quarterly Financial Results.

Itron is said to employ nearly 500 people in Liberty Lake, Wa, near Spokane. The company employs perhaps 7,500 to 8,000 total including elsewhere in the U.S. and outside the U.S.

The company makes electric power meters and sees significant opportunity with the up coming transition to “smart meters” for electricity, gas and water.

CNN: “Microsoft’s consumer brand is dying”

Ouch. Big Ouch: Microsoft’s consumer brand is dying – Oct. 27, 2010.

Microsoft, as a company, has failed to create new businesses around new products.

Reuters says much the same. Read more of this post

Sprint’s new 4G cellular network covers much of Washington – but not yet Spokane

4G Coverage and Speeds.

No Sprint 4G in Spokane. But they cover most west side cities and the Tri-cities.

T-Mobile has their 4G network in Spokane. Sort of.

I checked the T-Mobile coverage map and they provide 3G to my home but not 4G. Surprisingly, most of South Hill and large sections of the Spokane Valley have 3G but not 4G service. I do tip my hat to T-Mobile though for providing a detailed coverage map that estimates signal strength down to the street level. T-Mobile’s network is not “true 4G” but it is a much faster data service.

Other providers, like Verizon, AT&T, Cricket? “4G” is Australian for “press release”.

60 Minutes reports: Real unemployment is 17% nationwide

I wrote previously that Spokane’s 8.2% unemployment rate estimate is off in space. With huge office, retail and industrial real estate vacancy rates, a growing population but yet non-farm jobs held nearly constant for ten years, the 8.2% rate does not make sense. There are 10% fewer jobs in Spokane County than there were in 2007.

CBS’s 60 Minutes apparently agrees, saying that actual nationwide unemployment today is closer to 17%. They interview a former Silicon Valley fiber optics engineering manager who now works a retail sales job at Target to illustrate.

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Empty bio-tech building faces foreclosure in Seattle

Business & Technology | New, empty biotech building faces foreclosure | Seattle Times Newspaper.

177,000 square feet. Across the street from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. And the life science building is empty and the bank is foreclosing.

Biotech is said to be the future of Spokane too.

Major research centers in Spokane?

The following is from Prof. Richard Florida’s blog on the “creative class” and related topics. Research centers are concentrated in relatively few areas (and not in Spokane or Eastern Washington – see the map in the linked article):

It’s a given that scientific talent is highly mobile. But distance still plays a role. All other things equal, it is both easier for and more likely that leading scientists and researchers will move within these clusters – say between Boston and New York, or even Chicago and Toronto; much the same is true among, say, L.A., San Francisco, and Seattle. And collaboration within them is surely easier as well. This kind of proximity creates considerable short- and long-run advantages both for the universities and research centers within the cluster and the cluster as a whole.

This would seem to imply that ongoing efforts to upgrade research universities, attract top scientific talent, and build world-class research environments in China, India, the Middle East, and other parts of the world are likely to face significant uphill battles. And that established mega-clusters are likely to enjoy significant advantages into the foreseeable future.

via Creative Class » Blog Archive » Where the World’s Brains Are – Creative Class.

These comments apply also to the incoherent cluster strategy in Spokane.