Russell Senate Office Building Hallway

Creating a Competitive Advantage

There are a lot of long and solemn hallways in Washington, DC. How best to navigate them is a learning experience for everyone, particularly elected officials. Annually, our local non-profits and governmental jurisdictions journey to the hallways of DC to lobby for their respective projects or policies.

And so it comes to pass a bill that was recently introduced in the Senate’s Finance Committee called the Promise Zone Job Creation Act of 2017. Don’t look now, but Congress is considering creation of a new economic development tool that will give Spokane leverage over the competition.

There are only 22 Promise Zones in the nation and, wouldn’t ya know it, Spokane has one right in our backyard. When Congress of the United States of America considers creation of an economic development tool that will quite specifically benefit Spokane’s regional economy, perhaps it’s time for more of us to wander those solemn hallways of DC to whisper sweet nothings into the ears of whomever will listen.

Conveniently, we don’t even have to spin the truth. The proposed legislation allows us to vocalize overused and often wrongly applied key words and phrases with a straight face, like market driven, tax relief, job creation, economic development, because that’s exactly what the proposed legislation will provide, and Spokane’s regional economy will be one of only 21 others in the nation that can leverage the tool. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that’s the textbook definition of competitive advantage.

I should also mention that Promise Zones are located in some wonderful places, such as Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, and both Dakotas. The Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone, for instance, has captured roughly $470 million in federal dollars since its creation about three years ago.

Promise Zone Map
About $470 million to the Kentucky Promise Zone over three years. Oh, my! Indiana has two Promise Zones. Who’s running the country these days?


Oh, yeah, we also can’t forget the proposed legislation provides for creation of another 18 Promise Zones and, wouldn’t ya know it, the City of Spokane was a Promise Zone finalist last year. Let’s help them win next time around so we can double the regional impact of the legislation.

Double the pleasure, double the fun. If Spokane’s proposed Promise Zone wins designation, we get tax relief and job creation times two.


I’m unsure what it is, exactly, that captures the attention of local agencies that profess to be in the economic development business, but before us is legislation at the national level that provides tax relief and job creation specifically for our regional economy — a competitive advantage, indeed. Most folks would argue, including myself, that when Congress is considering a bill that specifically benefits regional Spokane, it’s legislation worth advocating for.

Powerful people want to sprinkle some economic development fairy dust on us, let’s make it easy for them. I sure wouldn’t mind seeing some locals in those long and solemn hallways of Washington, DC.