Spokane Journal of Business

The Journal’s View: Efforts to secure funds for Spokane deserve kudos


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Advocates for the Inland Northwest’s interests deserve kudos for their hard work to secure funds for projects in the Spokane area and beyond during the current Legislative session.

If signed by Gov. Jay Inslee as it’s currently being brought forward by the state Senate, the state’s capital budget would provide more than $77 million for building projects in the Spokane area over the next two years. If Washington State University projects in Pullman are included, that number surpasses $150 million.

That figure doesn’t include transportation projects, highlighted by funding to keep the North Spokane Corridor, with a total cost of $1.49 billion, on a path to be completed in 2030. This is a relief for those who have championed the project, after Inslee’s proposal at the beginning of the session called for pushing back funding so the project wouldn’t be finished until as late as 2035.

In the capital projects budget, one large chunk—$57 million—is set to go toward renovation of the old Eastern Washington University Science Building. Those funds are slated for the second phase of improvements to the building on the school’s main campus in Cheney. It’s an important step in helping the regional university remain competitive in an increasingly challenging higher-education environment.

In that same vein, Washington State University is due to receive $7 million to design a simulation and clinical research space for the medical, nursing, and pharmacy colleges on its Spokane campus. That’s on top of three significant allocations for the projects in Pullman: $40 million to construct a new engineering-student services building, $22 million for a new science building, and $10 million for the Knott Dairy Center renovation.

Back in Spokane, the state plans to throw some money at large entertainment venues. It would allocate $5.8 million toward the planned $22.8 million Avista Stadium renovation, for which Spokane County and the city of Spokane Valley previously had committed a combined $10 million.

In addition, Spokane Valley Summer Theatre is due to receive $3 million, in part for its new, $48 million Idaho Central Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center, which is under construction. In Liberty Lake, the Hub Sports Center will receive $1 million for its envisioned expansion.

Investments in such facilities are important to the quality of life Inland Northwest residents enjoy—and that same quality of life that economic development professionals sell to businesses looking to expand or relocate to the region. Like higher education, business recruitment efforts are getting more competitive, and it’s important for the region to continue to enhance its sports and cultural offerings.

Business leaders and the region’s chambers of commerce must keep the Inland Northwest on the radar in far-away Olympia, and this year, as they’ve done in the past, they’ve been successful in doing so. Those efforts, coupled with the work of some of our local legislators, are worthy of applause.

We’ll all benefit from such investments in our community’s future.

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