GSI's Startup Spokane reaches more entrepreneurs here

Thursday, May 11, 2017

(as reported in the Journal of Business by Kevin Blocker)

In the first quarter of 2017 alone, Startup Spokane, a program of Greater Spokane Incorporated, met with 70 aspiring and early startup business owners, nearly half the 170 owners it met with in all of last year.

Megan Hulsey, hired by GSI in February to be Startup Spokane’s entrepreneurship program manager, says the organization provided what it refers to as 70 unique assists, which entails consultations and referrals for startups, to entrepreneurs in the first three months of this year. 

“We’re off to a strong start this year, and we anticipate that we’ll far exceed last year’s total,” says Hulsey. 

Steve Trabun, regional business manager for Avista Corp., serves as Avista’s liaison with Startup Spokane. He says Startup Spokane has tallied a total of 300 unique assists since its formation in October 2015.

Startup Spokane is housed in a location called Share Space, at 610 W. Second, and serves as an entrepreneurial and small business service center. Startup Spokane is also an affiliate program of Startup Washington, an initiative developed by the Washington state Department of Commerce’s Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness.

Trabun says the first-quarter rise in traffic at Startup Spokane is a result of the organization’s increased community networking efforts, GSI promotions, and word-of-mouth referrals within the entrepreneurial community.

Startup Spokane now networks consistently with 45 area businesses and organizations, and that, he says, has brought the GSI program more attention from fledgling companies.

Spokane entrepreneurs Tom Simpson, Rob Martinson, and Chip Overstreet bought the 9,400-square-foot Plechner Building—the three-story former home of the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center—from Spokane small-business advocate and former City Councilman Steve Salvatori in 2014 through a company they created called Plechner LLC.

Share Space is located in 2,500 square feet of space that includes private offices and phone areas, tables and chairs, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a kitchen for use on an as-needed basis.

Startup Spokane members pay a flat rate of $100 per month and have all-hours access to space there.

April Needham, who works for GSI and serves as Startup Spokane’s community manager, says the shared space for entrepreneurs has proved to be a welcome resource for fledgling entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurship can be a lonely path,” Needham says. “But this space gives members an opportunity to share ideas and provide support.”

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