What does this mean for Spokane?

Nearly two years ago I wondered – what happened to all those tech and manufacturing firms and why did they leave Spokane?

And the answers are:

  • Companies found some place cheaper to move to, usually overseas.
  • They didn’t find the right set of essential features to stay here (costs no longer competitive, perhaps infrastructure and culture issues and others). Studies found Spokane lacks the necessary “ecosystem” for risk taking and innovation and dissenting views are frowned upon.
  • 30 years of local economic plans and strategies have not accomplished their original goals and many appear to have missed their targets. Most mention “innovation” but appear to leave out creativity, creative culture, “creative economies”, creative growth and economic planning, and economic gardening.
  • By State law, Spokane’s path is now centered on the following clusters – and tech, with a few exceptions has gone extinct in the official plans. State law requires all state agencies to adhere to the clustering strategy for each of the economic regions in the State.

By late 2009, the set of Spokane clusters selected for Spokane had mutated again into two separate lists, depending on which central planner made the list:

Clusters would be either:

  • Health Care services,
  • Business Support Services,
  • Colleges and Universities,
  • Sheet Metal & Metal Buildings.

Or may be (2nd list made a few months later by planners):

  • Health Care,
  • Business Services,
  • Manufacturing,
  • Construction,
  • Transportation/Warehousing

To both lists we must also add Government and Education (public). Oddly, government is the largest cluster by employment and wages but does not appear on the above official lists.

Can you spot the bioscience and high technology clusters in the official cluster lists? I can’t.

At this point, this blog has accomplished its original goal – finding an answer to “What just happened here?

At the time you read this, there are about a weeks worth of additional posts already written and scheduled to appear here. After that, I plan to reduce my time with this and move on to a new hobby šŸ™‚ I may yet write one big summary. We will see.

I hope – and think – that I have made a contribution with several findings documented on this blog:

  • There are many measures of Spokane that are worse than I ever knew about and I doubt most people knew about them. All the data is publicly accessible but local media ignores most of it. If we ignore it, we all feel better.
  • Repeating the same planning exercises every few years has been mostly unsuccessful. There is no accountability between the planners and the outcomes. If the authors of the economic strategies, studies and plans were held accountable for the outcome, would we see a better result?
  • Creativity and why that is a weakness for Spokane
  • Identifying that we can not be late with infrastructure, culture and trends and pretend we are going to have a leading edge innovation economy
  • The above issues must be addressed if the long standing problems with low wages and poverty are to be fixed
  • Do we care?

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