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City of Spokane vows to speed business permitting processes

Photo by Rebecca Hansen-White

Spokane city officials say they want to be ready when new economic development opportunities are presented.

Mayor Lisa Brown on Wednesday signed a resolution that directs city employees to speed up the city’s response when companies and entrepreneurs propose new projects.

“Local government has a key role with respect to the permitting across the spectrum and delivering the infrastructure so that, when the private sector investment is ready, we are ready with the facilities or the sites that can quickly be turned into new manufacturing facilities," she said.

Brown referred to Spokane’s American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center, one of 31 projects from around the nation that the federal government has officially recognized and invited to apply for funding through the CHIPS and Science Act. But she says the city wants to be ready to help projects in other industry sectors as well.

Brown says the city will create what it terms “a rapid response team” to deal with proposals that have the potential to create jobs and improve the city economy.

“This order lays out priority projects that can fall in different areas. Certainly the aerospace and automotive manufacturing, sales and assembly, but not just that," she said.

"Also, food processing, packaging and manufacturing; research and development, which fits very well with our University District, including life sciences, medical or electronic assembly, and creative economy uses like design, fashion, film, music, software development.”

Community and Economic Development Director Steve McDonald says the rapid response team will help to facilitate individual projects and review and adjust the city’s development policies.

"Part of the key to this is communication and collaboration across city departments," Brown said. "So we'll pull in anyone we need from Public Works and Planning and members of my cabinet, others in Parks and IT and legal, from across the spectrum. They're all committed to doing their part to make this work."

Brown said the main goal of her executive order is to help projects that will help drive economic development, but she says the benefits will trickle down to Spokane residents.

"The spinoff of the lessons learned will benefit a family that wants to build an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) in their back yard or businessowners that want to do tenant improvements in their already existing projects," she said. "So, although the focus here is on attracting new investment, ultimately the outcome of this teamwork and this process should be benefit families and businesses across the city."

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.