Better Spokane, a young organization developed by a handful of Spokane-area businesspeople to focus on business issues and economic development, has hired Michael Cathcart as its first executive director.
Cathcart previously worked as the Spokane Home Builders Association’s government affairs director. He says he became interested in the executive director position following discussions about Better Spokane’s formation and its mission to promote pro-business ideas locally.
“We’re still putting plans in place and working to get the organization off the ground, but our main goal is to better interface with the public,” he says.
“We’d like to educate citizens on why and how a pro-business environment is good for the local economy and give them a better role in policy making.”
And while he has yet to disclose his vision for the group’s larger activities, Cathcart says Better Spokane soon will move into a 300-square-foot office space on the second floor of downtown’s Cutter Tower, at 510 W. Riverside.
Formed last summer, Better Spokane is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It’s governed by a six-member board, and Cathcart is its sole employee.
Michael Senske, president and CEO of Pearson Packaging Systems, the West Plains-based maker of packaging equipment, is one of the board members. He says the organization is being funded through private donations.
“Several of us discussed creating an organization that would be engaged in creating an environment more conducive to income and job growth, as well as business expansion and retention,” says Senske.
The organization’s other board members are Ryan Gee, of Gee Automotive; Dave Clack, a retired Spokane businessman; business attorney Dennis McLaughlin, business attorney; and Fritz H. Wolff and his father Alvin J. Wolff, both of The Wolff Co.
Senske says the three older members of the organization’s board, Clack, McLaughlin, and Alvin Wolff, act as mentors to its younger members.
“These are individuals who were interested in helping us launch an organization that would incorporate the goals of both the old and new generations, and play an active role in shaping the business community,” he says.
Senske says that while the group has been working to create this organization for a little over a year, it didn’t officially incorporate Better Spokane as a nonprofit until last summer.
He says board members have spent the last few months speaking with others in the business community, gathering information.
“We’re a very nonpartisan organization, so we see this as a tremendous opportunity to work with other groups, complementing their efforts rather than duplicating them,” Senske says. “So, we wanted to gauge people’s interest, find out what they felt was missing and get their feedback on what we should do differently.”
He says the board’s most recent step toward better defining its goals was to create an executive director position.
“We’re still a nascent organization right now,” says Senske. “But we decided we needed to appoint someone who could focus on our combined ideas full time, and help us to develop them into a plan.”