Spokane Journal of Business

The Journal’s View: While not heroes, businesses play big role in wildfire relief


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While firefighters, law enforcement, health care professionals, and countless volunteers are the true heroes in a time of crisis, the Spokane business community deserves recognition—unsought as it might be—for stepping up in a big way following the devastating fires that tore through Spokane County earlier this month.

Now mostly contained, the Gray fire, near Medical Lake, and the Oregon Road fire, near Elk, took two lives, scorched a total of 21,000 acres of land, and destroyed 700-plus structures, including more than 360 homes. The effects of the fires will be felt by those property owners and their neighbors and friends for years to come as they recover and rebuild.

But as time goes on, we hope a lingering memory of this trying time will be the way businesses rushed to help, in their own way, in support of—and sometimes alongside—emergency personnel, volunteers, and those in need.

We’re hesitant to cite specific examples, for fear of leaving out an organization that deserves to be recognized. Even so, we would like to highlight some of the efforts, with full acknowledgement that it isn’t a comprehensive list of the philanthropy on display in recent days.

Innovia Foundation announced last week that it was one of four organizations to put $50,000 into the organization’s Wildfire Emergency Response Fund. Others making that initial commitment were Washington Trust Bank, Premera Blue Cross, and STCU’s Here For Good Foundation. As of earlier this week, Innovia was still gathering donations for that fund. 

No-Li Brewhouse, KREM-TV, and partners raised more than $215,000 in less than 12 hours for donations for the American Red Cross Northwest Region aimed at providing support to victims of the Gray and Oregon Road wildfires. No-Li, the largest brewery based in Spokane, matched the first $25,000, surpassing the initial goal of raising $50,000 in a matter of hours. King Beverage, Clearwater Paper Corp., and Bacon Cement all made donations in the thousands of dollars as part of that effort.

Another brewery, Brick West Brewing partnered with Zome Design to sell T-shirts as a wildfire relief fundraiser earlier this week, with all proceeds going to the Innovia fund. The results of that fundraiser weren’t available at press time.

Of course, the effort didn’t only involve cutting checks. According to the GoWest Credit Union Association, Numerica Credit Union and Gesa Credit Union activated emergency loan programs, and the Responders Emergency Services Credit Union delivered supplies to the front lines.

Once again, those examples aren’t a comprehensive list of those in the business community that have supported the wildfire relief effort, but they do paint a picture of the broad-based manner in which businesses rally to support its community during times of crises.

That galvanizing approach to confront challenges contributes to Spokane’s quality of life and is a large part of what makes our community a great place to work, live, and play, challenges and all.

On one hand, we’re grateful. On the other, we’d expect nothing less from our community-minded private sector.

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