Economic and Community Development
Spokane Gets REAL
Improving educational attainment in your region is not a task on a “to-do” list that you can check off some day. It requires vision, persistence and committed leadership, all of which Greater Spokane Incorporated is supplying for their region.
I was in Spokane last month and sat down with Shelley O’Quinn, Director of Workforce and Education for GSI. Shelley, who’s currently running for county commission, leads their REAL initiative – Regional Education Attainment Legacy. This includes projects, partnerships and policy work address issues from Pre-K though Higher Education. A few highlights:
- K-12 Roundtable – meeting every other month with public and private superintendents from 14 school systems across the region. Business leaders are at each meeting; the agenda focuses on everything from capital projects to policy reform to education quality. They’ve organized these meetings for 8 years.
- Career Awareness – Because top business and K-12 leaders have met regularly for so long, they’ve been able to launch programs that would be hard to pull off in one district alone: Aerospace Skills Week, Washington Business Week, and the Professional Development Academy for Science Instructors. Two school districts also house internship coordinators in the GSI offices.
- STEM – GSI is the funding agent and hosts staff for the Spokane STEM Network. A new bioscience focused STEM academy just opened this fall in downtown Spokane. Check out this great video.
- Higher Education Leadership Group – this 12 year old, economic growth-focused group includes the presidents from all 5 of the region’s higher education institutions and key corporate leaders. Their most recent achievement… landing a new state medical school in Spokane.
Better education outcomes through business-educator cooperation, all supported by the regional chamber of commerce. That’s what REAL in greater Spokane.