I’m rummy from ‘Visioning.’ I dreamed about Visioning last night. The dog says I talked in my sleep about the North Spokane Corridor and other possible future transportation projects. That’s right folks, it’s day three of our first round of meetings for the Spokane Transportation Vision Project and here at SRTC we’ve been living, eating, and breathing planning for a future transportation system for our area.

Right now I’m sitting in on a ’roundtable’ meeting of the Vision Project, this one targetting economic development. There’s a roomful of people involved in economic development in the area and they have some pretty incredible insights, ideas, and items they would like to see in our transportation future. Here’s what I’ve learned so far today:

– The average age of residents in Spokane Count is increasing
– 1 in 4 jobs in the region is dependent on trade
– In 2009, trade between Washington State and Canada was cut in half due to the shut down of the Oil Sands project
– International trade and tourism brought the same amount of money into the area in 2009
– Older people are moving back into urban areas to either access services or be closer to their grandchildren
– Education and health services were the only areas to add employees during the current recession
– Area assets include quality of life, lack of congestion, good schools, close to nature, and strong entrepreneurial spirit
– Only 21% of commuters in Seattle drive alone due to the price of parking
– There will be a shortage of about 35,000 truck drivers in the U.S. in the next 10 years due to baby boomers retiring and less drivers wanting to do long haul trucking and being away from their families.
– 75% of people polled in the area have lived here 27 or more years (I need to get more information on this, such as who did this poll, how many people were polled, etc. because I find this to be an amazing statistic)
– We have some of the lowest cost power providers in the country, which is good for recruiting businesses.
– One attendee said that people she knew visiting Spokane for the first time said the downtown area ‘smells good.’
– A carton of cigarettes in Spokane averages $62. In Idaho it’s closer to $35 so many people are driving across the border to buy cigarettes and gas.

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