Spokane Journal of Business

The Journal’s View: Lean into opportunity, even when times get tough


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If you read the Journal’s Economic Outlook, it doesn’t sound like 2023 is going to include much in the way of glad tidings of comfort and joy. Forecasts in the late 2000s and early 2010s certainly were worse, but pre-pandemic prognostications were a lot rosier.

In this environment, the first item on the Journal’s annual wish list for the Inland Northwest business community is simple: We want our neighboring businesses to lean in. Lean in and move forward. Take confident steps toward gaining market share and increasing revenue, where possible. At a minimum, make decisions based on your experience and knowledge of your own business, rather than based on what observers say might be around the corner.

We understand that borrowing money is more expensive, as are most goods. But don’t let prospects of a recession be the only factor preventing growth and expansion. Even during an economic contraction, there’s room for growth for some. We hope that’s the case for many of the region’s businesses.

While that’s a big ask, our wish list contains another one: Lean into Launch NW. The new organization has the mammoth goal of providing financial support to all of the region’s high school graduates who want to go on to college or receive vocational training. The effort has the potential—and some momentum—to change the trajectory of youth in the Inland Northwest and redirect the narrative surrounding higher education. We hope the community does all it can to support this initiative.

Next, we’d like to see a bipartisan approach to addressing homelessness. Progress in addressing homelessness is modest at best, and the Spokane City Council and Mayor’s Office seem to be on different pages, while law enforcement is trying to take matters into its own hands. Our most vulnerable populations deserve better, as do the business and property owners who have experienced an increase in crime and vandalism in the current environment.

With that, we’d like to see a continued return to the city’s core. Struggling to find parking when shopping downtown during the holidays is a welcome sight for those who saw streets empty and storefronts dim at the depths of the pandemic. It’s encouraging that activity has returned to the city’s core, and we hope that continues beyond the holidays. At one time, downtown advocates struggled to find ways to bring people downtown on evenings and weekends. Now, in an era of remote work and hybrid schedules, it’s become more of a challenge to keep streets full during the workday. We hope to see more professionals returning to the core in the coming year.

Finally, looking across the state to Olympia, we hope lawmakers don’t waste opportunities to help businesses and working families again. As we wrote in this space earlier in the year, the Legislature had a $14 billion surplus and chose to spend nearly all of it, rather than providing relief to taxpayers, as many other states did. If faced with a similar decision again, we hope our lawmakers make different choices in the new year.

Beyond the politics, social challenges, and economic headwinds, our main hope is for prosperity in the new year, whatever that may look like for you. From us to you, Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year.

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