Posted by Charles Rehberg
North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
February 12, 2018
          Survey deadline: President Chad Haverkamp said on-line club survey questions about membership, meals, board positions and other topics are requested Feb. 12.
          Holiday time: The club does not meet on the federal Presidents Day, Feb. 19.
 Spokane Tribe positioned for growth 
          With a strategic location, a new casino open and some welcomed federal advantages, the Spokane Tribe has great possibilities for growth and development.
          At the Feb. 12 club luncheon, Mike Tedesco, planning and economic development director for the Spokane Tribe, detailed the history and some of hopes for the future.
          Tedesco, a Spokane native, leveraged his “deep curiosity about how to make cities better” into a major in urban studies and now the job with the tribe.  He describes his interim position as “juicy.”
          The “centuries old” Spokane Tribe’s ancestral land includes 150,000 square acres on its reservation.
          Among 562 tribes in the U.S., the Spokanes have sovereign nation status, which provides a “self-governing constitution,” Tedesco said.  He said 2,100 tribal members are enrolled on the reservation among 2,900 total in the tribe.  That compares with 480 members among the nearby Kalispel Tribe.
          The Kalispels’ lucrative Northern Quest casino, adjoining the Spokanes’ land in Airway Heights, grossed $250 million last year, Tedesco said.
          With the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s casino in Worley, Idaho, and several other casinos in the area, a question at the luncheon asked how much more gaming will grow?
          “It’s finite,” Tedesco said, perhaps at $400-$450 million a year in the region.
          The Spokane Tribe actually opened casino gaming in the area when the Two Rivers complex on Lake Roosevelt was opened 30 years ago.  The Chewelah Casino was added.  Northern Quest opened in 2000.
          Questions also were raised about how well gaming jobs produce individual job development.  Tedesco agreed that many “casinos jobs” do not provide personal development growth.
          But the Spokane Tribes’ casino – opened with 40,000 square feet – has some strong advantages as it develops.  Its 145-acre site includes plans for a hotel, retail shops and other entertainment venues.
          Tedesco said the “promise zone” approved by President Obama has that only designation in Washington.   The zone carries a 10-year program which confers “grant preferences” to the Spokane.  He said those preferences can also transfer with “partner” agencies, such as Spokane County or Gonzaga University, to help in a very competitive development arena.
          The tribe also can take advantage of the new “opportunity zones” created in the new federal tax code.
          Another advantage for the Spokane Tribe is a “federal liaison” program which helps staff two employees – one in Washington, D.C. and one in Washington State – which helps lobbying efforts for the Spokanes, Tedesco said.
          Having the status of a sovereign nation, means the Spokane Tribe’s developments do not have to pay sales tax, B&O taxes and property taxes, he said.  Those can be tremendous advantages.
          Tedesco said for example, if the widely-touted expansion of Amazon to a proposed 50,000-employee plan wanted to locate in Airway Heights, the Spokanes’ proposal might have been the best deal for Amazon.  He said he based on that after reading 35 of Amazon’s 238
          On other topics, he said other than flight elevation limits, the Fairchild Air Force Base “doesn’t care” about the tribe’s expansion plans.  The only other issue, he said, was making sure birds don’t fly into the base’s aircraft.  Spokane County still opposes the tribe’s proposal, but a leader of Greater Spokane, Inc., was quoted as saying business opposite was waned. 
          One obstacle Tedesco couldn’t resolve was the question about why the Washington Department of Transportation but in a two-lane round-about to slow traffic from 50 mph to 15 mph in Airway Heights.  “We wanted a light instead,” Tedesco said, adding that two other round-about circles there.
The bulletin producers:
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Photos: Sandy Fink and Eric Johnson
Program coordinator: Brad Stark