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

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 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

This article first appeared on April 9, 2019 in The Coeur d’Alene Press. By staff writer Brian Walker.

COEUR d’ALENE — Jon Ness invited two relatively new Kootenai Health employees to the podium on Monday to illustrate how health care has led the local economic development charge in recent years — and given young folks an opportunity to live here.

The Kootenai Health CEO was the keynote speaker on “Our Health Industry: The Heartbeat of New Jobs” during the Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corporation’s annual meeting attended by a record 409 people at The Coeur d’Alene Resort.

Sharing their job stories up front with Ness were Caiti Bobbitt, a public affairs strategist, and Kyle Guice, a security officer.

“Personally, it’s allowed me to be there for my family in ways I never imagined,” Bobbitt said of her job. “It’s also allowed me to build relationships that will last a lifetime. Professionally, it’s given me a profound sense of community that I wouldn’t have gotten back in Phoenix.”

Guice said his position allowed him to return to Coeur d’Alene, where he was raised.

“I love the outdoors and fishing,” he said. “I’ve bounced around a bit with college basketball, so this has given me the perspective of how nice it is to be back in Coeur d’Alene.”

Bobbitt and Guice represent a trend in which the health care industry has become a major player for job creation in recent years compared to when Ness arrived in 2010. Back then, Kootenai County’s unemployment rate was 12 percent.

“There was very little construction, housing sales were low, the hospital wasn’t really growing, yet we had an unbelievable community we live in,” Ness said. “Our quality scores [at the hospital] were average. That is not a formula for growth.”

But Kootenai Health, thanks to community growth and internal culture shifts, is now roaring.

The independent, community-owned hospital grew from 1,800 jobs in 2011 to 3,300 today.

“In some ways, we can’t recruit fast enough,” said Ness, adding that the company has 230 job openings.

Idaho is among 16 states in which health care is the largest employer.

Ness said the culture shift at Kootenai Health started mandatory two-hour training sessions with all employees and the crafting of a vision statement — one that saw Kootenai Health being recognized nationally for excellence.

Ness said many employees several years ago were surprised that Kootenai Health’s ratings were at the bottom, compared to other hospitals in the region.

“That got their attention,” he said. “Maybe we weren’t as good as we thought we were.”

Ness said the culture shift, which includes annual employee engagement surveys, has led to Kootenai Health being honored nationally by several organizations.

Welcome home, kids 2

Gynii Gilliam, the economic development corporation’s president, encouraged business leaders to explore ways to piggyback onto Kootenai Health’s momentum.”This is so doable; let’s get to it. Let’s help the health care sector make an even bigger impact. We can do this.”


Ness said he believes Kootenai Health, which became an affiliate of the prestigious Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic in 2014, can continue to be an economic development force for years to come. It has a great example to follow in the Mayo Clinic, which hopes to create 50,000 new jobs over the next 25 years with investments from the public and private sectors and the health care organizations.

Ness said he believes a similar scenario can occur here, especially since this is a recreation paradise, the region’s proximity to Canada, the population of the counties are comparable; and because of Rochester’s somewhat remote location and the fact that North Idaho’s winters aren’t as harsh as Minnesota’s.

“We have fantastic physical amenities, wonderful resources and this is the most hospitable community I have ever been to,” Ness said. “Health care is growing, but what if we had a vision to do something like that?”

Gynii Gilliam, the economic development corporation’s president, encouraged business leaders to explore ways to piggyback onto Kootenai Health’s momentum.

“This is so doable; let’s get to it,” she said. “Let’s help the health care sector make an even bigger impact. We can do this.”

Idaho Gov. Brad Little said Kootenai Health’s success of providing opportunities for young families is part of the transformation from the state’s traditional roots of mining, timber and agriculture.

The average age of Kootenai Health employees is 41.

Little said North Idaho’s proximity to Canada, recreation and clean air and water also opens economic development possibilities.

“We need to create an atmosphere where people want to stay in Idaho,” Little said. “Strong families are what we are in Idaho and what people look for when they come here.”

Washington State grant helps international food processor expand, add jobs in Othello

April 15, 2019

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington Department of Commerce provided a $100,000 grant to the Adams County Development Council from Gov. Inslee’s Economic Development Strategic Reserve Fund to support the expansion of SVZ-USA Washington Inc., the only North American subsidiary of Netherlands-based specialty food processor SVZ International B.V.

The company plans to invest $4.8 million to increase capacity at its Othello facility opened in 2000, adding 17 new manufacturing jobs to its 90 existing employees.

“SVZ is an important part of the food processing cluster in Othello, and we are pleased to help Adams County Development Council partner with the company to make infrastructure improvements that will strengthen the entire community and prepare for future growth,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown.

“We are excited to have SVZ-USA moving forward with a $4.8 million expansion project that will bring new jobs to the city of Othello and Adams County,” said Adams County Economic Development Director Stephen McFadden.

The grant will help offset the cost of sewer system improvements required by the city of Othello for the expansion.  This will also extend the new sewer line well beyond SVZ’s building, facilitating future municipal connections and growth.

SVZ-USA specializes in processing fruit and vegetable juices, concentrates and purees for food and beverage manufacturers around the world. The company is recognized globally for sustainability and agronomy management best practices.

“The company is actively involved in our community in multiple ways,” McFadden added. “SVZ employees volunteer with several community organizations, and the company plays an active role in the Othello Career Showcase where we connect students in grades 8 through 12 with local employers to introduce them to the numerous career paths that exist within their hometown.”

“Building and growing a great business requires equally great relationships.  We are very pleased with the relationship we have with The State of Washington, Adams County, and the City of Othello.  The grant funding provided facilitates our expansion, and confirms the business friendly and supportive role of government to our international leadership,” said David E. Stewart, president, SVZ-USA Washington.

“In addition to direct employment increases, as our sourcing of raw materials is predominantly local, we look forward to expanding our local sourcing as we partner with farmers for our agro supply needs, increasing by about 30 million pounds with this expansion,’ he added. “Our business success requires long-term relationships with customers, farmers, employees, and the communities in which we operate.”

This article first appeared on March 20, 2019 in The Spokesman-Review. By staff writer Amy Edelen.

Affordability, opportunities drive placement among top 100 nationally

Spokane again has made a national ranking – this time as a top place to live for its affordability, job opportunities and recreational options. The Lilac City is ranked No. 41 out of 100 cities in a list of Top 100 Best Places to Live in 2019 by Livability. com, which evaluated more than 1,000 cities based on economics, housing, amenities, education and health care.

“The cities on this year’s list represent the best of the best when it comes to affordability and opportunity,” Editor-in-Chief Winona Dimeo-Ediger said in a statement. “These 100 cities are not just fantastic places to live in terms of their amenities, education, health care and infrastructure, they are places where young people can build amazing careers and communities.”

Spokane earned high marks for its parks, lakes, museums, and music and food scenes as well as accessibility to five universities and two medical schools, which boosted the city’s education score.

Affordability and job opportunities were top answers among 1,000 millennials surveyed nationally to determine what matters most to them when deciding to relocate, according to Livability. com.

The website indicated all cities on the Top 100 Places to Live list have median home values below $250,000. The median home price in Spokane is $239,900, according to February data from the Spokane Association of Realtors.

Spokane has the most affordable housing of all large counties in state, according to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington.

“Spokane is in very good position as far as affordability and sales price,” said Rob Higgins, executive officer of the Spokane Association of Realtors.

Higgins said that while housing inventory is low in Spokane, it’s expected to pick up in the next year, following a national trend of increased inventory in larger cities, such as Seattle.

Pullman and Richland ranked No. 86 and No. 30, respectively, on’s list, while Boise topped the list as the best place to live. Moscow made the list at No. 60.

Spokane has been featured on several national lists during the past year, including “Cities on the Rise” by National Geographic Traveler magazine and “Best Foodie Cities in America,” by WalletHub.

Agreement provides renewable energy intended to offset higher priced market purchases and fossil-fuel generation  

SPOKANE, Wash. – March 19, 2019: Avista, through a request for proposal issued in June 2018, has selected to purchase power generated by the proposed Rattlesnake Flat Wind project in Adams County, Washington.

Rattlesnake Flat Wind, a wind energy facility permitted and being developed by renewable energy developer Clearway Energy Group (“Clearway”), will provide Avista with approximately 50 average megawatts of renewable energy, or as much as 144 megawatts of nameplate wind capacity, under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with deliveries beginning in 2020. The PPA provides Avista with additional renewable energy, capacity and environmental attributes, which will offset higher priced market purchases. The PPA aligns with Avista’s 2017 Integrated Resource Plan which identifies that the utility will consider acquiring additional resources if such resources have lower long-term cost than electric market alternatives.  Avista expects to recover the cost of the power purchased through its retail rates.

“Recent market changes, including reductions in the cost of wind power facilities and tax incentives that remain in effect, have combined to make this an excellent time to acquire long-term output from a cost-effective wind resource, which has the added benefit of being located in our service territory,” said Jason Thackston, Senior Vice President of Energy Resources for Avista. “Rattlesnake Flat will help Avista meet its goal of providing reliable energy to our customers at a reasonable cost, while bringing even more renewable energy to our region, now and in the future.”

“We’ve been closely working with key stakeholders in Adams County, developing partnerships with landowners, businesses and local government to enable this project, and entering into this long term partnership with Avista is a very exciting next step,” said Benjamin Fairbanks, Senior Director of Wind Development at Clearway. “We’re proud that Rattlesnake Flat will be a source of home-grown renewable energy for the state of Washington and for Avista’s customers for many years to come.”

The wind farm will be the largest renewable energy facility in Adams County with the capacity to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power about 37,600 of Avista’s customers’ homes. Situated on 20,000 privately owned acres near Lind, WA, Rattlesnake Flat will tie into Avista’s electric system via Avista’s Lind/Washtucna transmission line.

SOURCE: Avista Corporation