North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
August 29, 2016
          Monday holiday:  No meeting Monday, Sept. 5, the Labor Day federal holiday.On deck: The speaker scheduled for the Sept. 12 meeting is West Central Community Center Executive Director Kim Ferraro.
          Welcome visitor: Past-president Jim Minkler, who left the club this summer to become president of Grays Harbor College, visited the club and brought a banner from his new Rotary club in Aberdeen, Wash.
          Another first: When asked by Sergeant-at-arms Steve Boharski to carry the fine collection basket, Art Rudd said “this is the first time in 45 years as a member I have been asked to carry the pot.”  Hopefully, the next similar request won’t take that long.
          RIP: It was announced that former member Chet Nelson has died.  Nelson, whose classification was retired pastor, had been a Rotarian since 1985 and joined Spokane-North in 2001.
GSI focuses on current issues and future plans
          Introduced by program chairman Brad Stark as “a recovering politician,” Todd Mielke noted “it is a really good year to step out of politics.”
          Mielke, a Spokane-North member in 2006, served 12 years as a Spokane County Commissioner.  Since February, he has been chief executive officer of Greater Spokane Incorporated.
          The change in jobs means, he said, that “now I am surrounded by optimism and people with a can-do attitude.”
          Mielke traced the development of GSI, formed in 2007 by the merger of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce and the Spokane Area Economic Development Council.
          The Chamber, he noted, had been formed in 1892 and has always had a regional development focus.  He cited the organization’s role in Columbia Basin water and irrigation projects and its help in securing land for Fairchild Air Force Base and in transforming the Geiger Military Airfield into Spokane International Airport.  More recently, GSI has been a major proponent of the Riverpoint higher education campus and expanding medical school education.
          Longtime Chamber and GSI leader Rich Hadley was only the organization’s fourth CEO; Mielke is the sixth.
          “We are a hybrid,” Mielke said. “We focus on current business issues and potential business development.”
          Noting the dominance of small businesses, he said of GSI’s 1,200 members, 40 percent have 10 or fewer employees, 65 percent have 25 or fewer workers and 75 percent have 50 or fewer staff members.
          Mielke outlined GSI’s mission, vision and values for club members.
          The mission is to “lead transformative business and community initiatives to build a robust regional economy.”
          The vision is “a vibrant Spokane region where businesses and communities thrive.”
          And the values stress “collaboration, innovation and respect.”
          Strategies encourage a collaborative effort to create a greater talent pool of skilled workers, to provide, for employers, a greater voice of advocacy at all governmental levels, and, to help build a greater finance, creation and core infrastructure to fuel regional growth of commerce. “Greater,” as in GSI.
          “It all comes back to the business climate,” Mielke said.
          A main component of that climate is being ready to follow new business leads.  He mentioned inquiries from aerospace industry companies seeking to start with 100 or so employees, but potentially growing to 1,000 or more.
          Spokane is nicely positioned for that kind of growth, Mielke said, because of its proximity to Boeing plants in western Washington and its successful history in Spokane of building airplane brakes, assembling parts of planes and having one of the world’s largest airplane painting businesses.
          Among Spokane’s positives, he said, land is still available, commutes are short, housing for employees is still relatively cheap, and schools collaborate to train skilled workforces.
          After the meeting, Mielke agreed that the sooner the North Spokane Corridor freeway is completed, the quicker huge business spaces such as Kaiser-Mead and the R.A. Hanson properties will open to development.
          He was asked “how do we compete with Post Falls?”  Mielke responded: “Talk to businesses that have been through that drill.”  While Idaho has some tax and legislative advantages, Washington also has some, like no state income tax.  “Businesses run the numbers,” Mielke said.  “Then they add the cool factors, like quality of life.”
First school assignment: store supplies
          Following the Aug. 29 luncheon meeting, club members stored more than $2,000 worth of school supplies purchased through Staples for Holmes Elementary School.
          Sandy Fink once again ably coordinated the effort.  Dozens of cartons of pencils, crayons, paper, scissors, glue sticks, facial tissues and three-ring binders were delivered and placed into storage closets.
          Among those getting an “A” for effort were club President Nancy Hanson, Art Rudd, Eric Johnson, Sandy Fink and Chuck Rehberg.  Holmes Principal Stephanie Lundberg thanked the club for its annual donation.
          The supplies particularly help new students from West Central Spokane, many of whom come to the school with few or no supplies.  Lundberg has said about half of the student population of 400 leaves during the school year, while the school processes 200 new arrivals.
The bulletin producers:
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Photos: Eric Johnson
Program coordinator: Brad Stark