Condon hopes to spur business development with Certified Sites initiative

SPOKANE, Wash. - When it comes to business, Spokane is used to hearing, "no thanks we'll pass." The Lilac City has long been overlooked by major companies wanting to expand, but a new plan backed by Mayor David Condon and Greater Spokane Incorporated hopes to change that.

The Certified Sites program is part of Mayor Condon's 100-day plan and has already attracted the attention of Governor Chris Gregoire for its innovation. The project satisfies one of five priority areas in his action plan – jobs and economic growth.

Dick Edwards of Hawkins Edwards Real Estate and Pete Thompson of Stonemark Real Estate are business partners who own hundred of acres of what looks like a wasteland south of Spokane International Airport. That's what the untrained eye might think, but they're actually sitting on a gold mine.

certified sites

"We've made the bet, we've laid our money on the table," Edwards said.

They're just tired of getting passed up.

"They found out that there was no water and sewer... boom, they went somewhere else," Edwards said.

The two adopted a tactic that the south and east coasts have used to gain a competitive edge. They're turning empty plots of land into attractive, move-in ready locations.

"All the sewer, all the water, all the curbs and sidewalks and landscaping," Thompson explained.

They put everything into the land that might create red tape for a major manufacturing company looking to expand near Spokane. The icing on top is the City of Spokane's announcement that they'll now be certifying these sites. It's a stamp of approval, so major companies can trust what they're buying.

It's a major reason why Caterpillar came to the region.

"That's the latest buzz word in real estate," Edwards said of the Certified Sites program. "They know that the site has all the amenities to it and they don't have to go through a lot of red tape."

The program is voluntary for anyone with a piece of commercial property for sale.

"Hopefully it means that more jobs are going to come into Spokane here," Edwards said.

"It's happened in Post Falls, it's happened in Liberty Lake, there's no reason in the world why it won't happen in the West Plains," Thompson said.

The City of Spokane has set up a website that explains the application process for Certified Sites.