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maybe Spokane is bad for business

Maybe Spokane is bad for business?

We recently relocated our main offices from Coeur d Alene, Idaho to Spokane Washington.  I obviously have always had a ton of Spokane clients, and they have always had a tone to their voice of Spokane being bad for business.  The draw of no personal income tax was just too much.  I thought, “It can’t really be that bad can it?”

So in our first 2 weeks at the new office, we got 3 invoices from the city.
-Our first day we set off the alarm, and got a $165.00 bill.  No first-one’s-free, just a welcome to Spokane, here’s a bill.  Wow!!
-Later that week we got a bill for $35 for having an alarm system.
-Next we got a late fee for not sending in our Spokane business license on time… but the late fee was $20, but got a bill for $65.  When I call, I can’t get through to ask about it.

So, at this rate, this could turn out to be a horrible move.  As someone who sets up businesses and helps clients maintain their businesses in virtually every city in America, I can accurately say that so far, Spokane is ranking up there with New York City as a horrible place to do business.  But I hope that these initial bills are just that, initial, and not continual.

I wish the City of Spokane would look at doing business here as a competition.  ALMOST NO CITIES IN AMERICA HAVE A BUSINESS LICENSE.  That’s right.  Spokane is going to be in the probably 1% of cities in the US that have a business license.  But a lot of cities in WA have city licenses for some reason, so what if the city thought about it from a competitive standpoint?

How about we abolish the Spokane City Business License!   I mean, what purpose does it really serve? I bet it wastes more time of city employees than the income it actually produces.  But if it was known that there was no over-regulating in Spokane and no business license, people from other parts of the state would be moving here in droves to set up their business here instead.  Bellevue has a city income tax!!  So I guess it could be worse.  If we had NO Spokane business license, businesses would be moving across the Cascades and setting up show here.  It would be great for our economy.

What if a city looked at revenue like we do in our businesses?   What do you do when you look at your sales?  You look at your most profitable source of revenue and the easiest thing you sell, and try to focus on that right?  So what brings in the most money to the Spokane budget?  I don’t know, but I would guess sales tax and property tax.  The business license fees have to be a complete waste of time.  If I were running the city, I would make it as easy as possible for people to spend money (Increase sales tax revenues) and increase the values of their properties (Increase property tax.) And I would go through and eliminate ALL stupid nickel and dime fees like a $35 fee to have an alarm system?  Or sending us a bill for $165 for a false alarm?  That’s not even worth the time it will take you to collect it!

If the City of Spokane would make it as absolutely enjoyable as possible to run a business in Spokane, Spokane could be looked at as the best place to run a business in Washington State.  This would bring business here.  Instead our city is looking at businesses as another source to wring every dollar it can out of them.

If you’d like to see the City of Spokane get rid of the Spokane Business License, please leave your comments here, and maybe someone will figure it out.

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