Spokane Journal of Business

The Journal’s View: Wishing for prosperity, certainty in the new year

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As a whole, Inland Northwest communities have reaped the benefits of another strong year of economic growth in a number of important areas: jobs, retail sales, and home prices, to name a few.

Further growth is expected in many key areas in the coming year, and while some are predicting economic expansion in the region will slow in the latter half of 2019, there’s much to look forward to in the new year.

The holidays are just days away, and with gratitude for the present and optimism for the future, we offer a list of wishes for the business community in the new year. Consider adding these to your own list, with hopes that we’ll all find them under the proverbial Christmas tree.

•A healthy welcome of Amazon. The Inland Northwest celebrated a major economic development win earlier this year when Amazon.com Inc. committed to building a $181 million, 2.6 million-square-foot fulfillment center on the West Plains. Such a commitment, however, stands to strain Spokane’s already tight labor supply and has the potential to spur housing challenges when the company starts the hiring blitz for its projected 1,500-person staff here in late summer. We hope the community is able to accommodate the big new employer without experiencing too many negative side effects that come with such a rapid ramp-up.

•A positive end to trade wars. Some Eastern Washington farmers and manufacturers already are feeling the full effects of the trade war between the U.S. and China. While we understand the need to revisit the nation’s trade relationships with other countries, farmers’ challenges will mount if they have to sustain another full growing season with little to no sales in important Asian markets. Hopefully, an accord is reached that works for all parties before apple trees blossom in the spring.

•A sign of progress toward Spokane’s homelessness problem. It’s a heart-wrenching issue with no simple solution. We sincerely believe civic leaders entangled in this issue have the best interests of Spokane’s vulnerable in mind, and we hope their attempts to help the homeless, while maintaining a vibrant city core, are successful in the new year.

•A clear future for Avista Corp. It’s been a whirlwind 16 months since Toronto-based Hydro One Ltd. first announced its intention to acquire Avista in a transaction valued at $5.3 billion. It looked like a good move for the power company, which would maintain an independent identity and local leadership under Hydro One. But turmoil in Toronto gave Washington state regulators pause, and they rejected the acquisition earlier this month. Avista and Hydro One have appealed, and the results of that appeal might not be known for a few weeks. Whether Avista moves forward with Hydro One, another suitor, or remains on its own, we hope for certainty regarding this important company that’s been an outstanding corporate citizen for decades.

•Big wins on big stages. We hope for a glorious bowl victory for the Washington State Cougars football team, an FCS championship for the Eastern Washington Eagles football team, and while we’re at it, a return to the Final Four for our Gonzaga University Bulldogs men’s basketball team. That might not be directly business related, but it’s good for our community. And if we get enough of those big wins, maybe those national broadcasters will learn how to pronounce Spoh-can.

Merry Christmas, faithful readers, and best wishes for a prosperous 2019.

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