Eastern Washington’s population and economic center is Spokane County. Spokane’s economy survived the Great Recession and emerged more diversified. Spokane’s recovery is being led by five industries: advanced manufacturing, health services, finance/insurance, transportation/warehousing and education. Without the advantage of mega employers, these five industries have medium-sized employers that are flexible and efficient in their markets. The region is home to more than 500 manufacturing businesses; distribution centers for PepsiCo, American Tire Distributors and Caterpillar Logistics Services Inc.; and health care providers such as Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital. High-tech companies in manufacturing, scientific and technical industries are creating new jobs and expanding the economic base. Steady growth is predicted to continue in the near future.
Spokane County is also home to Greater Spokane Inc., which connects businesses to valuable relationships and resources. GSI provides a wealth of information and resources to entrepreneurs, including a relocation guide, data and statistics, educational and networking events, and ambassadors. For more information on the economy in Spokane and other business resources, visit www.greaterspokane.org.
The median age in Spokane County is about 37 years old, which means the workforce skews slightly older. Median household income in the county is $50,550, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There is no state income tax.
Rail and Transit Access
The Greater Spokane area’s highway and rail infrastructure connect it to the global marketplace. Interstate 90, which runs through the heart of Spokane, is a major commuting route for eastern Spokane County and northern Idaho. This strategic freight corridor is the northernmost east-to-west, coast-to-coast interstate. The North Spokane Corridor is a nonstop arterial across the city linking Interstate 90 to the south with U.S. Route 395 to the north. Additional major highways that connect the region to outside markets include U.S. Highway 2 (to Everett and Newport, Washington), U.S. Highway 95 (to Canada and Mexico), U.S. Highway 195 (to Lewiston, Idaho) and U.S. Highway 395 (to Canada).
Rail access is provided by the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads. These rail services ship nationally from the shipping yard in Spokane Valley. The area serves as a gateway to and from the interior U.S. and Pacific Rim, with east-west access and reciprocal switching capabilities that few other regions can offer.
With agriculture as one of the region’s most important industries, it’s not surprising that nature itself is one of Spokane’s most valuable natural resources. In fact, Washington is the nation’s leading producer of apple juice and the second-largest wine producer. Spokane County boasts the second-highest number of farms in Washington, with about 2,500.
The climate and geography are ideal for agriculture but also offer numerous recreational pursuits. The area has miles of trails for hiking and biking, many in lush forests; rock formations perfect for climbing; lakes and rivers ideal for water sports; and more than 30 golf courses, surrounded by stunning landscapes.
Fairchild Air Force Base
With thousands of employees, Fairchild AFB is the largest single-location employer in the region, according to Greater Spokane Inc. The workforce includes more than 6,000 active-duty personnel, Air National Guard, Army National Guard members and civilian members. The base had a total economic impact of nearly $420 million and created more than 2,300 jobs, according to its 2015 Economic Impact Statement.