Lisa Brown, Washington Department of Commerce director, and Tom Kealey, Idaho Department of Commerce director, spoke Friday about the economies in their respective states during an Inland Northwest Partners conference at Banyan’s on the Ridge in Pullman.
“I see broadband as really a significant challenge to get right,” Brown said.
Part of the challenge, she said, is Federal Communications Commission maps showing the number of broadband providers available and overall coverage provided in the region is not adequate.
“We’ve got to understand what we have and what we don’t have in order to appropriately direct investment into that middle mile and last mile,” she said. “That’s always the most challenging piece of deploying communications or telecommunications technology.”
Washington is trying to help rural areas with this problem by establishing a statewide broadband office that would coordinate grants to governments and tribes for broadband infrastructure.
Washington 9th District Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, told the Daily News in April that she and her colleagues in the House supported the legislation because it will increase competition in the internet service provider marketplace and bring better service to rural Washington.
In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little signed an executive order in May establishing the Idaho Broadband Task Force, Kealey said.
The 40-member task force this fall will bring to the governor recommendations on ways the state can improve connectivity and speeds across Idaho.
The task force will try to map existing services and gaps in broadband infrastructure, which Kealey said will paint a picture for what resources are needed in rural and urban areas.
“We want to map what we have, be able to measure what we have in terms of access as well as speeds and features and services and options,” he said.
Brown pitched another idea that may bring people and commerce to eastern Washington. In light of Microsoft and other corporations last year offering funding to build a high-speed railway from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Portland, Brown said she would like to see a similar railway that connects western Washington with eastern Washington.
“How fantastic that would be to connect our communities, to connect our students and families, and also as an opportunity for people to be able to leave the megalopolis and see what the options are in other parts of the state,” Brown said.
Brown and Kealey highlighted some positives in Washington and Idaho economies.
“If we were a country, we’d be up there with Sweden or Belgium right now,” he said.
Kealey said Idaho is near the top of the rankings in several economic categories including first in travel dollars, third in the number of people moving to the state and fourth in job growth.
The national coworking culture is now fifteen years old. Successful coworking spaces know they need to be more than just secure wifi, free coffee and meeting rooms.
“Coworking spaces have to go above and beyond to stay competitive and thrive—developing niches spaces for certain businesses (legal, fashion and beauty, blockchain, film production), offering unique experiences such as coliving or childcare, plus getting creative by opening spaces in underutilized real estate like hotel business centers or within stores.”
—Madison Maidment, COO of Coworker
One novel idea is an app that connects you with another local option: your neighbor’s living room. Codi, a new startup launching soon in the Bay Area of California, turns apartments and houses into temporary, affordable coworking spaces during the day.
“I used to work from home, and it’s very isolating. When you go to coffee shops, they can be very distracting. And there were no working options close by, and downtown coworking spaces are very expensive.”
—Christelle Rohaut, CEO/founder of Codi
LiquidSpace is a national online network that connects people with spaces. Users can search for meeting rooms, coworking space, private office suites, brainstorming-ready spaces, event spaces, and, dedicated desks. Searches can be customized to neighborhoods or specific properties to be the first to know of new space availability.
The list of coworking spaces in the Inland Northwest continues to grow, as rural communities recognize the need to attract flexible workforce and encourage a startup culture.
IDAHO CO-WORKING SPACES:
Bonners Ferry: The Plaza Downtown
Coeur d’Alene: The Innovation Den, SpaceShare CDA, Rockford Building
Hayden: Panhandle Area Council Business Incubator
Sandpoint: The Office Sandpoint
WASHINGTON CO-WORKING SPACES:
Liberty Lake: Liberty Lake Portal
Pullman: Crimson Commerce Club (C3)
Harrington: The Post & Office
Spokane: Niche Coworking, Fellow Coworking, Level Up, Regus, and StartUp Spokane
OTHELLO, Washington – In early May, McCain Foods USA Inc., a division of McCain Foods Limited, the world’s largest producer of frozen french fries, announced a $300 million investment in its Othello, Wash., potato processing facility, significantly expanding its North American production capacity. This 170,000-square-foot expansion will add another state-of-the-art battered and conventional french fry processing line to its production capabilities in the U.S. and bring an anticipated 180 new jobs to the community. Of note, this investment also brings environmental efficiencies, reducing the facility’s carbon footprint while doubling its production, underlining McCain’s commitment to sustainability.
“This investment signals confidence in Washington, its potato growing community and its skilled workforce availability,” said Jeff DeLapp, President, North America. “It quickly follows other McCain capacity investments, helping to meet the continued increasing demand for McCain products and builds toward a strong, sustainable future in manufacturing and agriculture.”
This added capacity will require an approximate 11,000 additional acres, sourced from local potato growers in the region, and follows a similar high-capacity expansion in Burley, Idaho to service the U.S. and global markets. Construction will begin this month with anticipated completion in early 2021.
About McCain Foods USA
McCain Foods USA is a leading supplier of frozen potato and snack food products for the foodservice markets, retail grocery chains and private label brands. Everything from appetizers to sweet potato fries can be found in restaurants and supermarket freezers across the country. McCain Foods USA Inc., headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, employs 4,000 people and operates production facilities in Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, Washington and Wisconsin.
For More Information, Contact:
Eric Benderoff | [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 24, 2019 (LIBERTY LAKE, Wash.)—Inland Northwest Partners announces their summer meeting to be held at Banyan’s on the Ridge (Palouse Ridge Golf Course) in Pullman on June 7, 9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m., with a continental breakfast beginning at 8:30 a.m. Lisa Brown, Director of Washington State Department of Commerce and Tom Kealey, Director of Idaho Department of Commerce, will share the keynote presentation titled, “State of the States: Trends Shaping the Economies of Washington and Idaho.” Cost for INP members is $40, nonmembers is $60. To register, visit inwp.org/events.
The presentations of Directors Brown and Kealey will culminate a day of presentations under the theme of “Value-Added Agriculture: Cultivating New Jobs for Your Community”.
“Throughout the Inland Northwest Region, it’s exciting to see even more economic activity and job creation related to our strong agricultural sector from crop production, craft brewing, and agritourism.,” says Paul Kimmell, Chairman of INP Board of Directors. “It’s always great to showcase some of this success and continue to build on these opportunities.”
Other presentations include Chanel Twealt, COO for the Idaho Department of Agriculture, who will discuss agriculture as a regional economic driver; Dr. Laura Lewis, from WSU Food Systems, who will discuss the craft brewing and distilling industry; and, Adams County Economic Development Director, Stephen McFadden, who will discuss renewable energy, food processing and the cannabis industry.
Inland Northwest Partners members meet quarterly to share common economic challenges and solutions within the eastern Washington and northern Idaho region. Topics include technology, financing community initiatives, forging regional partnerships, local business expansion and retention, and job recruitment. INP often partners with local chambers or state organizations for value-added training.
Banyans on the Ridge is located at the Palouse Ridge Golf Course, 1260 NE Palouse Ridge Dr. in Pullman. For more information about becoming a member of Inland Northwest Partners, visit inwp.org or email [email protected].
Inland Northwest Partners (INP) is a non-profit organization focused on enhancing the long-term vitality of a two-state region through its core offering of educational meetings, programs and seminars. More than 300 business and community leaders from eastern Washington and northern Idaho are members. INP is also part of a regional marketing effort known as the Inland Northwest Economic Alliance (INEA), a consortium of fourteen economic development agencies. To learn more, visit inwp.org.
Lisa J. Brown, Ph.D., was appointed Commerce Director by Washington Gov. Inslee and began serving the agency in February of 2019. Prior to serving as Commerce director, Brown served as chancellor of Washington State University, where she led the health science campus in Spokane.
Brown served in the Washington State Legislature from 1996 – 2013 in the Senate where she was majority leader and chaired the Rules Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and Energy, Technology and Telecommunications Committee. She served in the state House of Representatives from 1993 – 1996, where she was minority whip and minority floor leader.
She has worked extensively on economic development in Eastern Washington and on gender equity.
Brown earned her bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Illinois and her master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Tom Kealey is Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s appointment to serve as Director of the Department of Commerce, and began his service in January of 2019. Kealey is co-owner of restaurant Chicago Connection and a former Morrison-Knudsen executive, and served on the Idaho Endowment Fund Investment Board under Governor Dirk Kempthorne.
A lifelong Republican and retired CPA, Kealey believes in protecting the Idaho Constitution, taxpayers money and credit rating.
Kealey earned his accounting and finance degree from the University of Washington and an MBA in Strategic Planning and Marketing from Harvard Business School.
This post originally appeared on the Lincoln County Economic Development website.
(Davenport, WA, January 18, 2019) — It was early 2016 when the Harrington PDA began to install a high speed broadband network through their downtown business district. Now three years later, that project has become a model for do-it-yourself rural internet. Last January the stakeholders in the project were invited to tell their story to the State Senate Committee for Economic Development and International Trade. This past October Harrington hosted a policy discussion with Governor Inslee’s advisor on rural broadband, John Flanagan. And Last week Harrington’s Mayor Justin Slack spoke at a press event in Olympia where the Governor announced his 2019 initiative to increase broadband access throughout the state.
Mayor Slack spoke about the PDA’s project, but he also spoke about he and his wife Heather making the decision to move from Seattle to Harrington to raise their children in a small town. The Slack’s purchased a building within the fiber network so that Justin would have the bandwidth he needed to telecommute to his job with a Seattle bank. Soon the “accidental business owners” opened The Post & Office wi-fi coffee shop in the front half of their building and a fiber-fed shared workspace in the back. The Post & Office has become the hub of the community thanks to good coffee and high-speed internet.
Commissioner Scott Hutsell also spoke at the press event in Olympia. The Commissioner is the Chair of the Public Works Board, an infrastructure planning and funding board within the Dept. of Commerce and spoke about the importance of broadband. Inslee’s proposal includes $25 million in grants and bonds for broadband infrastructure and he hopes to see the Public Works Board administer those funds. The Governor also proposes the state establish a Statewide Broadband Office to be the central broadband planning body. Washington had a broadband office from 2009 to 2014, funded by a five-year federal grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the same act that funded the NoaNet fiber project in 2012-2013. It is that NoaNet fiber that feeds Harrington’s network.
This article first appeared in the Columbia Basin Herald, 12 December 2018.
HARVESTING THE SUN
Lind boasts the largest solar array in the state
By EMRY DINMAN
LIND — Leaders from Adams County and the state at large flocked to the outskirts of the small town of Lind in October 2018 to commemorate the ribbon cutting of Washington’s largest solar array, the Adams Nielson Solar Farm, by Governor Jay Inslee and Lind-Ritzville Middle School Associated Student Body President Raegan Snider.
“It is a glorious day in Adams County, because Adams County has understood solar power for a long, long time,” Inslee said at the October ceremony. “It has long harvested photons through the power of photosynthesis to produce the best wheat in the world. This is just another generation of the development of solar power.”
As far as the eye can see, dark blue panels are tilted to soak up the sun, perched on barren dirt in this small corner of the Eastern Columbia Basin. The 200-acre solar farm is capable of producing 28 megawatts of energy, enough electricity to power 4,000 homes. The same amount of energy would release nearly 40,604 tons of carbon dioxide if it were produced by traditional fossil fuel generators, according to figures provided by Avista.
Energy generated by the facility power will be available to commercial and business consumers through Avista’s Solar Select Program. Businesses can purchase that power with an eight-year commitment, limited to 1.2 million kilowatt-hours per year at a rate of 5.3 cents per kilowatthour.
Inslee was joined by politicians from the region, including U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-WA, state House Minority Leader Rep. Mark Schoesler, Adams County Commissioner John Marshall, Lind Mayor Paula Bell and student leaders from Lind-Ritzville Middle School, which is located just over a ridge from the solar farm. Inslee referenced these students throughout his speech, and later asked Snider to join him in using a large pair of novelty scissors to cut the ribbon.
“These kids are going to be working on new technologies like this, building on this proud tradition of solar energy,” Inslee said. “The future of these kids is symbolized by these solar panels.”
Avista and Strata Solar jointly funded a $10,000 donation to the neighboring Lind-Ritzville Middle School for a digital reader board, delivering an oversized check to the Associated Student Body shortly before the ribbon-cutting.
Newhouse, the region’s congressman, praised what is only the latest addition to the region’s diversity of existing renewable energy sources, including nuclear, biomass, wind, hydro and now solar power.
“With further research and development, we can have the capacity to usher in a new era of energy production in the United States that provides a stable source of energy while also protecting our environment for generations to come,’ Newhouse said.
State Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, credited a speedy approval process on the county’s management practices and support from the Adams County Development Council.
Event speakers widely praised the efforts of Economic Development Director Stephen McFadden, who worked to get the facility located in the county and to make the permitting process as painless as possible. For his part, McFadden said much of the credit belonged to the development council as a whole, as well as various county agencies which worked in concert to move the project forward quickly.
Adams County will receive approximately $4 million over the next 20 years in property tax revenues from the array site, according to a press release, a groundswell of financial support for the relatively tiny community. “We have tremendous untapped potential here,” McFadden said. “We’re trying to grow and diversify the county’s economy by bringing in new businesses and job creators. They generate critical new tax base to support all of the things that already exist here.”