COEUR D'ALENE --The Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce has created a new arts and culture committee to better facilitate interaction between the business and arts communities.
The committee has representatives from visual and performing arts, and the idea is to organize artists, galleries and businesses into a cohesive unit focused on maximizing the potential economic benefits for all parties involved.
That idea came from Steve Gibbs of Art Spirit Gallery. Gibbs serves as the committee's representative to the Chamber and is also involved with the city of Coeur d'Alene Commission on the Arts, as well as the very successful Art on the Green.
"Our first venture was to coordinate the calendars of all our members so that the community and visitors alike know the incredible variety of visual and performing arts in the area," says Max Faller, president of BankCdA and chairman of the committee. That calendar can now be found on the Coeur d'Alene Chamber's Web site (www.coeurdalenechamber.com).
The committee has big plans for the future.
"The chamber has resources to educate us [the committee] about promotion and marketing and to help us do it," says Marlo Faulkner, one of the committee's 18 members.
Faulkner says the committee is already working to put together a major festival in Coeur d'Alene within the next two to three years.
"Something similar to Bumbershoot in Seattle or the River Festival that Boise has every year," she explains. Stay tuned.
-- Clint Burgess
SPOKANE -- The Spokane Neighborhood Economic Development Alliance (SNEDA) has hired a new executive director, H. Eric Loewe, a Louisiana businessman and community activist who will take the reins on Aug. 19.
"Loewe is particularly focused on creating and expanding businesses that will provide livable wage jobs in low-income neighborhoods," says Chris Venne, SNEDA board president. "We've had an executive director before, for a brief time, but this time around we have a business plan and now we know where we are going." A $20,000 grant from Foundation Northwest enabled SNEDA to put the business plan together.
Loewe was executive director of Ouachita Enterprise Community, a non-profit development organization in Louisiana. He also holds an MBA.
Among the many initiatives promoted by SNEDA, which all focus on economic development in the poorest neighborhoods in Spokane, is a tax-credit program for which Venne has very high expectations.
"It's called "The New Markets Tax Credit," and it's a Treasury Department program that gives investors a 39 percent tax credit for investing in SNEDA," he explains. "Then SNEDA turns around and either makes loans or buys equity in neighborhoods that need it the most." SNEDA has also formed a for-profit partnership with Raven Ventures as part of this process.
SNEDA targets neighborhoods in the same area as the business empowerment zone: the core neighborhoods around downtown, and Hillyard, Logan and East Central neighborhoods.
-- Pia K. Hansen
SPOKANE -- Are burning fields and noxious smoke clouds taking the fun out of your summer? If so, check this out.
The Washington State Department of Ecology has launched a new Web site aimed at alleviating some of the annoyance caused by the smoke from summertime burning. The Web site also offers a cornucopia of information about burning, weather patterns and air-quality standards.
Grant Pfeifer of Ecology's air-quality program in Spokane says: "We're hoping that having quick, easy access to this site will take some of the guesswork out of predicting when smoke might be a problem for people with breathing conditions."
The Department of Ecology has air-quality monitors positioned throughout Eastern Washington that measure and transmit air quality levels daily. This information can now be accessed via the Web site, which also shows where burning is happening.
"We've wanted to do this for some time," says Jani Gilbert, an Ecology spokeswoman. "You'll see the site get more user-friendly and continue to have a lot more information."
-- Clint Burgess
Visit the field burning site at: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/airhome.html