Spokane and its Gonzaga Bulldogs – a Winning Spirit
Even without the storefronts, homes, and buses draped with “Go Zags!” signs, one can sense the palpable excitement around Spokane as the beloved Zags head into their first ever National Championship game. Well before the season began, this Zag team was predicted to be one of the best in the country, a difficult claim for any team to live up to. With their trademark teamwork, positivity, and hard work, this team has lived up to the hype, boasting a 37-1 record as they enter the final game of the season. And in many ways, this team reflects the town behind it, which is doing very well, too.
The second largest city in Washington State, and the largest metropolis between Seattle and Minneapolis, Spokane’s vibrant education system, sense of community, and ideal location are propelling it to great heights.
While known for its basketball program, Gonzaga excels in academics and all around quality as well, being ranked #4 in Western Regional Universities by Newsweek. With a total of over 5,000 undergraduates enrolled, Gonzaga students and faculty are actively involved in some of Spokane’s most forward thinking initiatives, including the growing regional medical education and the local entrepreneurship community. And Gonzaga is just one of many colleges and universities in the area contributing to the region’s success.
There are 18 colleges and universities within an 80-mile radius of Spokane which educate nearly 90,000 students. These institutions combine to offer a wide array of educational opportunities, from two-year certificates to doctoral programs. Adults, looking to further their education, are assisted by Greater Spokane Incorporate’s recently launched Greater Minds initiative. The goal of this collaboration of higher education and business communities is to increase high-quality certificates or degrees held by working adults from 40% to 60% by 2025. Unique to the state of Washington, this program is yet another example of Spokane’s innovative leadership.
Fueled in part by local graduates, Spokane boasts a robust workforce. The largest demographic of job holders is 25 to 34 year olds, an unusual asset for a top 100 MSA. The unemployment rate continues to recover from the recession, dropping to below 6% last fall for only the second time since 2008. Driving this trend has been growth in major industries, including healthcare, software development, and advanced manufacturing. Combine this thriving workforce with Spokane’s low cost of living, access to diverse outdoor recreation, and community mindedness, and it’s easy to see how the success of the Zags is emblematic of the town that so passionately supports them.
A winning team is driven by a common goal and fueled by teamwork and determination. This team, and this town, have overcome challenges and advanced through the strength found in our common bond. Spokane could not be prouder of our Zags and their embodiment of the spirit of Spokane.