Director’s visit to Spokane focuses on child care, advanced manufacturing and aerospace, tribal relations


Commerce Director Mike Fong met with community partners and saw firsthand how Commerce funding helps the community

GLOW: Go Light Our World

Two people stand and talk inside an interactive play room at a child care facility.
Commerce Director Mike Fong listens to GLOW Executive Director Katie Jessop discuss the child care facilities features in the interactive rain room.

Walking into GLOW Children Early Learning Center transports you from the urban heart of Spokane and into a cheerful, nature-themed space, complete with a rain room and live lemon tree flourishing in a pot next to the front door.

GLOW Executive Director Katie Jessop opened the facility five years ago as the child care arm of Lumen High School, a public charter school next door. GLOW used $573,000 in funding from Commerce’s Early Learning Facilities Program, plus its own resources and fundraising, to build the beautiful, modern facility.

Director Fong toured the center and he got a sneak peek at the new expansion area, which will add additional classroom and staff space and a possible indoor/outdoor play area. The facility is currently licensed for 156 childcare slots for ages 0–12 years and plans to add 120 more slots within the next five years.

Collage of three images: a small lemon tree with a sign, a child care room with colorful handprint mat on the floor and cribs and rocking chairs, and a fairy garden with plants and a sign.
GLOW’s lemon tree, the Roots child care room, and fairy garden.

During his visit, Director Fong heard from Lumen High School student Mahciah Campbell, whose 6-month-old daughter is cared for at GLOW while she’s in class. Lumen offers flexibility to the parents by allowing babies up to 4 months old in the classroom, and parents can leave class to breastfeed or care for their children, if needed.

Supporting young parents is important so they have the best chance at success. Child care is often a top expense for families. Parents, particularly mothers, frequently sacrificing their own education and career goals. That’s why 60% of the children at GLOW are of current or former Lumen students: They can focus on their education or moving into the working world and know their children are receiving supportive, loving care.

Four people stand together and pose in front of a small alcove in an office.
Director Fong discussed GLOW’s services and needs with longtime employee Zac, Lumen High School student Mahciah and Executive Director Katie during his visit.

Commerce has awarded 22 Early Learning Facilities grants totaling $7.9 million to child care facilities in Spokane County since 2019. The need is still significant, with an estimated need to add over 17,000 childcare slots in the county. Only about 31% of children 5 years or younger are currently being served and only 18% of children ages 5–12 have access to care before and after school.

Commerce is actively addressing child care shortages that plague communities across Washington in a variety of ways. This includes our Early Learning Facilities Program, the community-driven Child Care Partnership Grants, a new Family-Friendly Workplaces program, and partnerships with other state agencies to provide more information about challenges and the real-life impacts to our state Legislature.

Five people pose while sitting around a restaurant table with menus.
From left to right: Steve MacDonald, director of Community and Economic Development, City of Spokane; Annica Eagle, Commerce community engagement specialist; Director Mike Fong; Spokane City Council President Betsy Wilkerson; and Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown met for lunch in downtown Spokane.

American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center

While business development along Highway 2 between Spokane and Airway Heights is booming, the Triumph Composite System’s sprawling former manufacturing plant has remained empty for nearly two years.

That’s about to change.

A consortium led by Gonzaga University created the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center. The AAMMC will build on the state’s longstanding history of innovation and leadership in the aerospace industry by creating a testbed for advancing manufacturing technologies for the next generation of materials and parts at the former Triumph facility.

A group of people sit around a boardroom table at Gonzaga University. Three people sit in the right back corner against the window. A TV screen displays a slideshow to the left.
From left to right: Director Mike Fong; Larry Krauter and Todd Woodard, Spokane International Airport; Joni Wynecoop, Spokane Tribe of Indians; Dean Karlene Hoo, Gonzaga; John Sklut, Gonzaga; Josh Woodson and Robin Toth, Commerce; Gynii Gillian, Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corporation; Gary Ballee, Greater Spokane Incorporated; Steve MacDonald and Alex Scott, City of Spokane; and President Thayne McCulloh, Gonzaga University

The consortium has nearly 50 members in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area, including representation from the aerospace industry, education, workforce training, venture capital, economic development, government and tribal partners.

The consortium, with guidance from Commerce, applied for a tech hub designation through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The Biden-Harris administration announced the AAMMC as one of 31 inaugural Tech Hubs in the nation last fall. As the lead applicant for the consortium, Gonzaga submitted its phase two application to the EDA last month for up to $70 million in federal funding to make the proposed manufacturing test bed a reality.

Six people pose outside in sunshine in front of a gray building and landscaped grass.
Director Mike Fong (middle) poses with Commerce’s Josh Woodson and Robin Toth, Gonzaga University’s Liaison for External and Government Affairs, John Sklut, and Lakeside Company’s Rob and Nick Roach in in front of the proposed manufacturing facility.

Director Fong toured the 386,000-square-foot facility to envision the manufacturing potential. He then met with consortium partners at Gonzaga. During a roundtable discussion, he announced $500,000 for the AAMMC from the Securing Federal Funding Initiative program to representatives from Gonzaga, Spokane International Airport, the City of Spokane, Greater Spokane Incorporated, Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corporation, and the Spokane Tribe of Indians.

The new program is designed to help communities capture opportunities to receive a share of billions in federal funding. Gonzaga will use the Commerce grant as a portion of required matching funds in the phase two application.

Four people at a boardroom table with a slideshow playing on a screen behind them. Two of them are laughing.
Director Mike Fong and Spokane International Airport CEO Larry Krauter laugh at something Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh said during a gathering of consortium partners.

“The support of the Washington Department of Commerce is a critical component of this initiative to create the future of aerospace innovation and advance the economic vitality of our region,” said Thayne McCulloh, Gonzaga University president. “The AAMMC consortium represents industry, research, education, government and workforce, all collaborating to achieve high-rate production goals for the next generation of advanced aerospace manufacturing. With Commerce support, this partnership is poised to meet the demands of industry and increase economic prosperity in a region well-positioned to support future growth and development.”

American Indian Community Center

Nine people pose together in an office. A large rendering of a building is held in front of three of them.
From left to right: Commerce Director Mike Fong; Linda Lauch, AICC Executive Director; Martin Schneider, AICC Board Member; Evanlene Melting Tallow, AICC Board Member; Margo Hill, AICC Board Chair; Sunni Lu Lewis, AICC Capital Campaign Manager; Nancy White, AICC Board Member; Annica Eagle, Commerce community engagement specialist; and Stephanie Sijohn, AICC Executive Assistant.

The American Indian Community Center has been a gathering place for urban Indians since 1967. Throughout its 57 years, they’ve partnered with over 300 tribal communities and serve thousands of people annually.

But the AICC is the only community center in Spokane without a permanent home. Currently in its eleventh home, the twelfth should be more permanent: Exciting plans are in motion for a forever home along the Spokane River near High Bridge Park, on land secured from the Spokane Parks Department.

Director Fong met with AICC Executive Director Linda Lauch and members on the board to learn about the organization’s services and plans for the new community center. They’re currently working on a capital campaign to raise more than $12 million and received a direct appropriation of $970,000 from Commerce’s Local and Community Projects capital fund.

A rendering of the proposed new home of the American Indian Community Center. The brown building is surrounded by green space, parking area and features a colorful storytelling circle in a roundabout.
An artistic rendering of the future home of the American Indian Community Center along the Spokane River.

The proposed 25,000-square-foot facility is in a historically significant area where the Spokane Tribe and their neighbors, including the Coeur d’Alene, Kalispel and Salish-Kootenai tribes, have gathered to harvest salmon and trade goods since time immemorial.

The new facility will be a community gathering place for cultural connections, meetings, activities, traditional tribal ceremonies and funerals, and events.

AICC partners with other organizations to maximize its services. With the expansion, it will be able to offer even more, including Goodheart Behavioral Health, employment readiness, housing assistance, a food bank, the Indian Child Welfare Program, and more.

The completed facility will be an asset to the city of Spokane and surrounding community, as well as different cultures and ethnic groups.



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