Regional Voices: April Needham – Avista Corp.
April Needham is an Avista Corp. executive employee currently on loan to Greater Spokane Inc. to assist with Startup Spokane, a program that connects aspiring entrepreneurs with resources needed to launch and grow successful companies. Startup Spokane is affiliated with Startup Washington, an initiative developed by the Washington State Department of Commerce.
Before joining Avista: After college, I was excited to move to a bigger city that had more career opportunities. After college, I worked in human resources for a large corporation, then transitioned into sales and, later, worked for a nonprofit. One of my favorite jobs was serving as a regional development manager for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I was continually inspired by the resilience that these children display on a daily basis.
What brought April back to Spokane: After being away for nearly a decade, and witnessing this area’s transformation while visiting family here, I decided to return. It was nice to see pieces start falling into place – urban revitalization, a growing arts scene, more dining options, and the rise of microbreweries – elements essential to creating a community where people desire to live.
Local resources for growing a business: One of the great things about this area is Spokane’s collaborative mindset, which enables new entrepreneurs to reach out to people and resources that might not be as accessible in other cities. And many of the local resources available to entrepreneurs here are free!
Career opportunities: Besides traditional career opportunities, our tech sector is taking off.
Spokane’s advantages: Our greatest asset, by far, is our people – friendly, inclusive neighbors who care about the community. Second is our talent pool. Eight colleges and universities in our extended region graduate tens of thousands of potential employees and entrepreneurs every year. We need to work harder to retain that talent.
Other goals she would like Spokane to embrace: As we move forward, it’s important that we continue focusing on creating high-wage jobs. And we must remember that to attract and retain talented people requires a diverse, desirable community with great schools, affordable housing, arts and culture, a lively restaurant scene, and walkable neighborhoods, as well as access to the great outdoors.
What she likes most about living in the Inland Northwest: Besides the people, its proximity to nature. We have playgrounds for every season’s activities.
Where she takes out-of-town visitors: Lake Coeur d’Alene, our local breweries, and some of the great little neighborhoods that have benefitted from revitalization, such as the South Perry district.
How April relaxes: I enjoy getting outside – running, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, snowshoeing. I also like trying new restaurants and discovering new breweries.