Progressive Business Focus

WDC Board Member Op-Ed:
Staci Franz, Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS)

Healthcare and Social Assistance is the largest employment sector in Spokane, representing approximately 19.5% of all jobs in the area, which equates to more than 45,000 workers, and growing. The healthcare industry has significant challenges with an aging workforce and national shortages for key positions such as nurses, physicians, first responders, and allied health professionals. Top talent is in high demand, so as a major employer, we need to be creative in our recruitment efforts.

INHS is working hard to respond creatively to healthcare talent acquisition needs. We are partnering with the Spokane Area Workforce Development Council to fuel our nursing talent pipeline. We also engage in policy advocacy work with Greater Spokane Incorporated, and we are working with local high school Health Science Advisory Boards. We also believe in beginning our talent planning by working to engage the hearts and minds of community youth at an early age. We do this with the belief that upon certification, graduation, or licensure, INHS will be the employer of choice for graduates. We have several traditional programs we engage in. One is an an all-city career awareness day for fifth graders. We also present “Psychiatry to Podiatry” in junior and senior high school classrooms. These talks cover healthcare careers from head to toe. We have a robust junior volunteer program and job shadow opportunities, as well as formal clinical internships. We also participate in several nontraditional and innovative programs such as hosting Business After School and Teach the Teachers events at our work site.

In addition to external recruitment, we are creating professional pathways which enable us to pre-fill our known future workforce needs. St. Luke’s Rehabilitation, one of our divisions, has recently partnered with Community Colleges of Spokane to bring English as a second language (ESL) courses on to the work site. This collaboration will enable St. Luke’s to upskill our current workforce to prepare them for pursuing advanced clinical roles such as nursing assistant or certified medical assistant. These individuals will have our support to continue on their professional journey into careers such as Registered Nurse, Physical Therapist or Physician.

As a part of the healthcare industry, INHS has the responsibility to shape our future community and workforce. That is why we have made a commitment to career connected learning, and ensure that workforce development is a strategic initiative for our organization.


In January, SAWDC CEO MArk Mattke was elected First Vice President of the board of trustees of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. This group of workforce leaders represents cities across the country and serves as a forum for sharing best practices that effectively meet the needs of business and advance the careers of U.S. workers. They also engage with policy and lawmakers to guide and inform the development of workforce legislation to strengthen our nation’s workforce system.

SAWDC Innovate
To ensure the success and growth of our regional economy, the SAWDC is making significant investments in in-demand, high-wage occupational skills training. We select classes using labor market data analysis and employer feedback. Once a skill is identified, the SAWDC contracts with a training provider to offer the training and certification(s) at no cost to students, who are recruited by WorkSource. We have already piloted training cohorts for Class A Commercial Driver’s License, Project Management, Property and Casualty Insurance, and IT Help Desk. After training and certification, students get to meet employers at targeted hiring events. We estimate that students completing these courses will collectively earn wages of $8M annually.

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