As Spokane prepared to enter into Phase One of Governor Jay Inslee’s phased approach to reopening business in the State of Washington on Monday, Board leadership of the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) issued a letter to the Governor’s office calling for a process consistent with that being proposed by City of Spokane Mayor Woodward, the Spokane County Commissioners and a growing number of Mayors in the region; a process that is regional and cautious in nature, but more timely in allowing for the reopening of the various industry sectors.
It was the recommendation of the DSP Board that the Governor use regional data when making his determinations; in recognition of the fact that Spokane County – although the fourth largest county in the state – remains in the lower end of the third tier of counties in the state based on reported cases of the COVID-19 virus. Further, the 23 Spokane County deaths attributed to COVID-19 represent .oo46% of Spokane County’s population; another illustration of a stark contrast for how the virus has impacted Eastern vs. Western Washington.
“As our organization received announcements of businesses in downtown closing permanently due to the shutdown, there is a growing realization that not only is it relatively safe, but absolutely necessary that businesses be allowed to put in place the distancing and sanitation measures required so that they can safely reopen to their customers” said CEO of NAI Black and DSP Chairman Dave Black. “ With 70% of our region’s deaths sadly attributed to individuals over the age of 70, according to the Spokane Regional Health District website, we wholeheartedly agree that seniors and people with compromised health should continue to quarantine in place. This can be done safely and responsibly while respecting individual choice in allowing others to return to social engagement when they are comfortable.”
The DSP is part of the regional efforts to aid businesses in accessing information, relief, and on-line/curbside customers. As the contract manager for the downtown Business Improvement District, DSP employees also provide cleaning and security services in the downtown core. Vacant office spaces combined with the recent release of repeat offenders from our jails and prisons back into our community has caused car theft and commercial burglaries to spike.
“We need to allow for the safe return of our owners, as well as their employees, customers and downtown visitors, and we believe the data suggests that with the correct safety precautions, this can be accomplished sooner than what is prescribed in the Governor’s plan.” said DSP President, Mark Richard. “Empty businesses in the region cannot expect to make it to the Fall without experiencing more theft and loss, placing thousands of livelihoods at risk of being crushed.”
The DSP is a private, non-profit membership organization that serves as Spokane’s central city advocate and service provider, dedicated to enhancing the quality and vitality of Downtown Spokane as the basis for a healthy region. The DSP accomplishes its mission through advocating for public policies, business and project development, quality planning, physical improvement projects, public safety, beautification, and marketing programs that ensure downtown’s continued success.