Businessmen Dump Criticism on Cowles
By: Beth Carey
Businessmen say Spokane's ruling family is driving them away.
Over the past decade, two of Spokane's "major players" have said the Cowles family is driving business and jobs out of Spokane. An article on the front page of Sunday's Coeur d'Alene Press newspaper suggested those reports may be true. Paul Sandifur, CEO of Metropolitan Mortgage, controls about 600 jobs in Spokane, plus a business empire worth more than a billion dollars. David Sabey, owner of Sabey Corporation, is the man who put 120 million dollars into rebuilding NorthTown... and though he no longer owns the mall, he remains one of the real estate tycoons in the region. In Sunday's Coeur d'Alene Press, in an article called "Fleeing King Cowles" by former Spokesman Review reporter David Bond, Sandifur and Sabey say the Cowles family is driving them ... and their business... away from Spokane. Paul Sandifur is quoted as saying: "We're thinking about moving a lot more of our company out of Spokane and into Idaho." Dave Sabey says: "If we do anything over there again, it will be in Idaho." Sandifur has been critical of Spokane's business climate in past interviews with News 4, though without specifically attacking the Cowles. "And the people that have power and have had it for many many years," he said, "have no real incentive or instinct for new growth in this town. So we run out the new energy that wants to come in and we hold things back because we're not used to growth and progress internally, and you end up with a retarded town, and that's unfortunately what we have." But now Sabey and Sandifur openly blame the Cowles for blocking efforts to bring in high-paying, high tech jobs. Sandifur says: "When new people, employers, come to town, they are unwelcome. they are treated like lepers. they are ignored or put aside." Sabey says: "I offered to bring 60 jobs over to Spokane -- cell therapeutics, a bio-tech firm, 60 chemists. I tried to go through the front door to to the Cowles and I got snubbed." Sabey says the result is low-income jobs in Spokane that are a complete mismatch for upscale shopping centers like River Park Square. "There is no market for high-end stuff in Spokane," sabey says. "The king will not bring in high wage employment because they will lose control. But there is such an opportunity in North Idaho... Spokane is one of the most dysfunctional communities in the state of Washington. The good hard working people of the community deserve better." We asked Stacey Cowles, publisher of the Spokesman Review, to respond. "Obviously, I think it's a major opinion piece," he said, "and highly opinionated... I think it would be helpful if they would come up with facts that would support that opinion. And in fact, I have done some talking with Paul Sandifur and asked him that very thing. Can he point to some facts? And he can't."
The full article, as it appeared in the Coeur d'Alene Press, can be found at KXLY's website at kxly.com.
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