City invests $450,000 in campaign for Seattleites to move to Spokane

City invests $450,000 in campaign for Seattleites to move to Spokane
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The City of Spokane is banking on a nearly half million dollar campaign to bring more people and businesses to the Lilac City. If all goes according to plan, the “Hacking Washington” campaign will get westsiders to move to Spokane.

City official Julie Happy told KXLY she believes the campaign could spur the local economy, but it’s costing $450,000 in the process.

The campaign’s website compares Spokane’s average 19-minute commute and lower commercial lease rates to Seattle’s gridlock traffic and soaring cost of living — in hopes of getting businesses to set up their second headquarters here, keep local students in the area by adding jobs and bring westsiders who used to live in Spokane back.

Local business owner Ramsey Pruhnic is a Spokane native, but said he had to move to Seattle after graduation to find work relating to what he studied in college. Pruhnic and his wife Amy lived in the Emerald City for five and a half years before moving back to Spokane.

“There was just a lot of transition. It felt like everybody was in transition all the time and so no one really seemed like they settled in, or it took a long time for people to settle in,” Pruhnic said. “So, you know, that’s what we missed about Spokane. We missed the community, we missed kind of that feeling of home, if you will.”

The couple now owns Hello Sugar, a made-to-order donut shop in Kendall Yards. Pruhnic also told KXLY he runs an advertising agency and is working to bring more national companies and employees from across the region to Spokane.

“Spokane just has a bad rap and we saw that when we lived in Seattle and I think it’s, you know, it’s not deserved,” Pruhnic said. “Spokane doesn’t have some of the other challenges these big markets have in terms of cost of living for a starter home or commute times.”

The city is looking to capitalize on that and create more stories like Pruhnic’s.

“If you’re from Seattle or outside of Spokane, you don’t think there’s really anything good east of the mountains,” Happy said. “There’s this you know, stigma about what Spokane may be and this was just to show, in kind of a passive way, all the really cool things that happen in Spokane, without saying ‘Spokane.”

Some locals, like Pat Klumb, are not happy about the idea. Klumb is concerned if more people move to Spokane, the Lilac City may turn into the Emerald City with overgrowth and heavy traffic.

“I want more people to enjoy Spokane, I’m not necessarily sure I want more people here,” Klumb said. “Even in Spokane, we do have little traffic issues and I’ve been to the westside and it takes you 45 minutes to go ten miles. I don’t really care for that to happen here.”

Happy believes more people in Spokane would boost the economy, if businesses set up shop here and provide jobs to local students. Pruhnic said if that were the case years ago, he would’ve never left home for the Seattle.

“There was just a lot of transition. It felt like everybody was in transition all the time and so no one really seemed like they settled in, or it took a long time for people to settle in,” Pruhnic said. “So, you know, that’s what we missed about Spokane.”

The “Hacking Washington” campaign will run until December 2019.