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Spokane, Washington, has become a popular destination for remote workers and retirees seeking an outdoorsy, affordable lifestyle. The Munholands, a retired couple, moved to Spokane in 2021 to start a gourmet coffee business. Despite the city’s natural beauty and affordable cost of living, it is facing challenges such as a housing shortage and rising prices. The mayor declared a housing emergency in 2021 as the influx of new residents exacerbated the problem, with starter homes receiving multiple offers and young locals being priced out of the market.

The city is working to address the housing shortage by implementing new regulations to allow more housing units to be built in existing neighborhoods. Mayor Lisa Brown, a former state Senate majority leader and university chancellor, is focused on addressing the housing crisis, homelessness, and drug problems in the city. Despite its challenges, Spokane offers a high quality of life with good air quality, outdoor recreational activities, and a thriving cultural scene. Spokane was named one of Forbes’ Best Places To Retire in 2024 for its affordability and amenities.

Spokane is also making strides in economic development, with initiatives to attract tech startups and investment in the healthcare industry. The city is home to a new medical school at Washington State University, aimed at producing healthcare professionals for underserved rural areas. Efforts are being made to diversify the local economy and attract venture capital investment. Fairchild Air Force Base remains a major employer in the area, attracting young retirees who choose to stay in Spokane for their post-military years.

Spokane’s evolving business landscape reflects a growing emphasis on diversity and inclusivity. The multi-ethnic business association AHANA, which supports business owners of color, has seen increased support during the pandemic. Despite progress, issues of racism and discrimination persist in the region, as evidenced by a recent incident involving racial slurs directed at the University of Utah women’s basketball team. Spokane’s history, including its association with the white supremacist group Aryan Nations in nearby Coeur D’Alene, serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges of intolerance in the area.

Overall, Spokane is a city in transition, grappling with the opportunities and challenges that come with rapid growth and changing demographics. As the city works to address its housing shortage, attract new businesses, and promote diversity, it remains a destination of choice for those seeking a high quality of life in a scenic and affordable setting. With ongoing efforts to improve economic and social conditions, Spokane is poised to continue its evolution as a vibrant and inclusive community for residents and visitors alike.

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