Spokane Journal of Business

The Journal’s View: Icons deserve bright spotlight despite event postponement


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Two weeks ago, the Journal of Business reluctantly postponed its Icons event due to mounting concerns about the coronavirus. A couple of days later, Gov.  Jay Inslee banned all events statewide involving more than 50 people. 

The decision to postpone felt difficult – almost heart-wrenching – at the time. Now, as Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order takes effect, the postponement seems like an obvious conclusion.

Ideally, we’ll be able to honor our 2020 class of Icons later in the year, once spread of the virus has ebbed and people are socializing side by side again. Even so, we want to take a moment now to recognize the five individuals who comprise this year’s class: restaurateur Larry Brown, banker and economist Phil Kuharski, manufacturer Pam Senske, developer John Stone, and medical laboratory executive Tom Tiffany.

The Icons awards recognize legends of the Spokane business community who played a part in making Spokane what it is today. A month or two ago, we might have used words like vibrant, thriving, and booming to describe Spokane in 2020. Now, shackled by COVID-19-related restrictions, we’d lean more toward words like resilient, gritty, and undeterred.

Such words could be used to describe our honorees as individuals as well. Some overcame adversity to excel in their chosen fields. Others were on the forefront in recognizing technology’s influence in their industries and became instrumental in finding ways to use tech to be more efficient and to maintain relevance in the marketplace.

Many people owe their careers to one of this year’s Icons. Many others have a better quality of life because of a neighborhood or an establishment that originated as an idea of one of our honorees. 

To be eligible to be named Icons, honorees must be over 70 years old and retired or no longer involved in day-to-day operations. They must have spent the bulk of their careers in the Spokane market, and because the awards aren’t given posthumously, they must be living.

Lots of people would fit that bill. Indeed, we received a number of nominations of individuals who would be worthy of consideration for this honor. But the five individuals recognized stand out as the best choices for the awards this year.

Our resolve as a business community will be tested in the near future. Our hope is that those challenging times will be measured in weeks rather than months, but at this point, we can’t say with confidence whether that will be the case.

Look to our 2020 class of Icons as inspiration for navigating quickly changing dynamics and seeking opportunities when they aren’t readily apparent. There are solutions in their stories for some among us.

Once again, congratulations to our honorees. We look forward to celebrating your careers and accomplishments in person when it’s safe and practical to do so.

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