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Spokane is trying to lure disillusioned Seattleites eastward

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‘Welcome to the 12-minute commute’


As Seattle home prices grow, some have turned to Spokane for relief—and a lower cost of living. The City of Spokane is trying to harness that in a new digital campaign it’s calling Hacking Washington.

“You used to think you could have it all in Washington,” announces the city-run landing page for the effort. “We still do.”

With the campaign, contracted to Spokane ad firms Chapter & Verse, Quinn, and Treatment, the city is targeting online ads to more than 500 specific small businesses and organizations, according to the Spokesman-Review. Later in the campaign, the plan is that even Spokane mayor David Condon could meet with interested Seattleites.

The jab at Seattle’s changing landscape isn’t subtle. “While Seattle is still a special place, locals have to work hard to afford a lifestyle that hardly exists anymore,” reads the city’s Hacking Washington website. “And those living on the outskirts and working in the city are subjected to some of the longest commute times in the country. These trends have Washingtonians looking elsewhere for a better way, and they’re finding it in Spokane.”

This isn’t the first time someone’s tried to appeal to Seattleites thinking about leaving the Emerald City behind. Spokane-based designer Derrick Oliver started a Tumblr-turned-Kickstarter called the very to-the-point “Spokane Doesn’t Suck,” and currently sells clothing, stickers, and mugs bearing the slogan.

But in this case, it’s a city-run, $450,000 marketing campaign, harnessing an increasing amount of anxiety from Seattle residents about how long they’ll be able to stick around—or handle the crowds. At the core of the campaign: a lower cost of living and doing business without Seattle’s growing pains.

“Almost half the cost of living with virtually no commute,” reads one campaign point. “Raise your profits by lowering the cost of everything.” “Attract talent without having to compete with the tech giant next door.” “Welcome to the 12-minute commute.”

But to a city where $1 million homes are the norm, maybe the most dramatic point is the difference in housing cost. “With a median home price that’s 295 percent less than Seattle’s,” reads the website, “you can afford more house or multiple houses.”

And, as the Hacking Washington website points out, flights from Sea-Tac only take 45 minutes— or “less time than it takes some commuters to drive home in Seattle.”