SPOKANE, WA-This city’s three-year-old investment in communications infrastructure is paying off. In 1997, the central business district here was wired with high-speed Internet access and high-capacity fiber optic cable to nurture the regions expanding industries of software, digital, and information technologies. Now known as the “Terabyte Triangle,” the area has attracted more than 20 technology-based businesses to downtown Spokane.

As a result, says Mark Turner, president of the Spokane Area Economic Council, the bulk of manufacturing in the area is now electronic or high-tech oriented. “Of the top 12 manufacturers (here), eight are technology based,” says Turner, dropping names like Cisco Systems and Key Tronic Corp. Turner says the recent growth among local manufacturers is creating a ripple effect and fostering economic activity throughout the high-tech sector. “Clusters of suppliers and vendors are growing in Spokane, which will help (the EDC) better meet the needs in technology-based business and spur future growth,” says Turner.

Another spokesperson at the EDC tells GlobeSt that two of Spokane’s attractions are its relative proximity to Seattle combined with its significantly lower costs of doing business, including cheaper land and lease rates. Here’s a look at some companies that already have taken advantage of the lower costs:

* Avista Development and Wells & Co. have teamed up to convert a former Roadway Inn to a high-tech office building on 827 W First. The $4.5 million project will contain 32,000 sf with infrastructure scaled to meet the needs of its target tenants: high-tech.

* Telect Inc., a Spokane-based manufacturer of telecommunications equipment is in the midst of constructing a 53,000 sf multipurpose facility adjacent to its headquarters at Liberty Lake, at a cost of $2 million. That project is in addition to a 36,000-sf $5.5 million expansion of its administrative facilities.

* The Federal-Way based hardware company Artesian Direct is building an 87,000-sf operations center in Spokane Valley. Total costs for site purchase and construction are estimated at $6.3 million.

* Cisco Systems is in the midst of expanding its operations to include Spokane. However, the parties involved were unavailable to comment on the specifics of the lease at a property owned by Spokane-based Walt Worthy Enterprises.

* Soft Corp., a Spokane-based software company with products for use in power-line planning and design had, in May, announced plans to add more than 200 employees to its work force over the following 18 months. Due to early holiday closure, GlobeSt was unable to verify that those hiring plans are still in place.

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