by DOUG NADVORNICK & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & o, four-wheeled traffic between Spokane and Coeur d'Alene is a little slow for your tastes? How about making the trip in a hot-air balloon?
That's one of more than 300 ideas mentioned as part of Greater Spokane Incorporated's Ideation program, a regional brainstorming project aimed at creating "a new agenda for the Inland Northwest."
"We know that great ideas exist all over the region but they don't always get acted on," says GSI President Rich Hadley. "If people wait for government to start some of these, they'll never happen."
Most of the ideas -- which you can see at www.newideasinw.com -- were generated at GSI's recent annual meeting. Many have long been in the public domain; for example, some want the city of Spokane to beautify the entrances to the city -- a Mayor Jim West project -- and there's a strong call to revisit building a light rail line from the airport to Coeur d'Alene. But there are also some new proposals; for example, make Spokane a hub for Japanese groups that want to visit tourism spots in the Northwest, and create a regional lottery to raise money for youth-related jobs and job training and for programs aimed at eliminating teen pregnancy.
During the next several months, Hadley hopes to solicit several hundred more ideas, appoint a task force to whittle them down to the best 100 and then have the GSI board pick 10 "transformational" ideas from the list for the region as a whole to work on.
Hadley says the secondary benefit to Ideation is that it becomes an outreach project for his organization.
"There's a trust issue with the other chambers [of commerce in the region]," he says. "This gives us a chance to go out and establish relations."