SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington state's Office of Financial Management projects Spokane County's population will exceed 600,000 people by 2040. That's a gain of about 90,000 people in the next 18 years. In anticipation of that growth, we’ve seen a lot of development throughout the county.
In 2018, Spokane's Riverfront Park began transforming into an event-based attraction downtown. Renovations are still underway, but we've already seen bright and colorful additions to the iconic U.S. Pavilion. The park now also features the Numerica Skate Ribbon--the first of its kind on the West Coast.
Last summer, the Ice Age Floods Playground opened on the north bank of Riverfront Park. The recreational area is just one piece of the $75 million-dollar revitalization project started by the City of Spokane's Parks and Recreation department.
Kendall Yards is one of Spokane's many up-and-coming trendy neighborhoods. It's home to new businesses and several seasonal events for the community.
A few blocks east from here, renovations turned Spokane's historic Wonder Building into a market featuring several food and drink vendors, including High Tide Lobster Bar, which is about to get a new concept, and Evan's Brother's Coffee.
The North Monroe Corridor project gave the street a fresh new look. The multi-million-dollar project closed the North Monroe strip for five months. It reduced five lanes to three, widened sidewalks, and upgraded street lighting.
In December 2018, the city officially opened the University District pedestrian and bicycle bridge. It crosses over the BNSF Railway corridor, connecting Spokane's East Sprague area to the University District.
Construction on The Podium, Spokane’s newest sports facility, was completed last fall. The $53 million project will bring major sporting events to Spokane including the 2022 US Track and Field Indoor Championships in February.
Adjacent to The Podium will be Spokane’s new downtown stadium. The facility is intended to replace the 70-year-old Joe Albi Stadium. It will be home to Spokane Public Schools football and soccer games. And even bring a new professional soccer team to Spokane.
Amazon continues to expand its footprint in Spokane county. The West Plains fulfillment center opened in 2020. A second fulfillment center started operations in the Spokane Valley last fall. And the latest Amazon addition is Amazon Air at the Spokane International Airport.
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With all this growth, there also comes change to all of Spokane County.
Doctor Patrick Jones is an economy professor at Eastern Washington University. He and a team of economists created SpokaneTrends.org. It's an online database that tracks Spokane County's economic trends-- including people, housing, and transportation.
Data from 2018 shows Spokane county's demographic as mostly white with an average age of 38 years old. But by 2040, Doctor Jones said data trends suggest the county is on track to become more diverse in race and age.
"I would predict, given the successes we're seeing here with our college graduate finding jobs, that 18-to-34-year-old group will also be very stable, if not grow," Dr. Jones said.
Spokane's economy is dominated by health care. Dr. Jones said that's not expected to change anytime soon. He believes the professional scientific and technical sector could climb to Spokane's top ten employment sectors.
“As our economy nationally, statewide, and locally shifts to more knowledge-based service, then I think we'll continue to see that sector continue to grow," he said.
As we look ahead to the next 20 years, Jones said Spokane data trends suggest our community will become more diverse. We’ll also see more of the county's population graduating with higher education.