State Startup Center for Entrepreneurial Success ramps up under Inland Northwest Partners leadership

Washington state’s small business assistance programs in Asotin and Whitman counties help rural entrepreneurs realize startup dreams, attract $20K contribution from Avista

The Washington State Department of Commerce’s Startup Washington 365 program is increasing efforts to support entrepreneurs in Asotin and Whitman counties through a new relationship with Inland Northwest Partners (INP). The non-profit based in Liberty Lake, WA is currently recruiting a full-time program manager to lead and build services offered through the Startup Washington Center for Entrepreneurial Success to new businesses in these rural communities.

Education, access to experts in fields such as law and accounting, and a host of mentorship and networking opportunities are available through and

“We are excited to build out services that focus on connecting entrepreneurs with resources to further development, champion entrepreneurship and promote the Startup Washington 365 program throughout the region,” said Sharon Williams, executive director, Inland Northwest Partners/Inland Northwest Economic Alliance.

The Washington state legislature approved $250,000 to fund Commerce’s Startup Washington 365 rural economic development programs through the 2017-19 biennium. Spokane-based investor-owned utility Avista contributed an additional $20,000 to support the new work led by Inland Northwest Partners.

“The contract with Inland Northwest Partners enables us to enhance the Startup Washington 365 program in Southeastern Washington, continuing our focus on helping entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses,” said Steve Trabun, regional business development manager with Avista. The company was instrumental in establishing and growing Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Startup Spokane program and remains one of its central investors.

“This strategic economic development initiative contributes to Avista’s commitment to create economically healthy and vibrant rural communities,” Trabun said.

“Public-private collaboration is core to the goals and success of Startup Washington 365,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “Nurturing the talent, innovation and drive of home-grown entrepreneurs by connecting them with mentors and professional services spurs economic growth and jobs, strengthening rural communities throughout Washington state.”

Since inception in 2015, Startup Washington 365 has helped nearly 200 entrepreneurs who have succeeded in establishing 51 new ventures.

5-0 Guide Services is one of those early success stories in Asotin County. Owner Greg Egbert established a fishing guide service in Scenic Hells Canyon, offering salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and bass expeditions year-round in North America’s deepest river gorge.

“Thank you Startup Asotin for providing a one-stop location for local entrepreneurs to quickly identify the specific resources needed to grow,” Egbert said. He listed a few of the resources he gained through the program, including:

– Access to free, informative seminars

– Ability to network with area experts

– Collaboration with fellow entrepreneurs

– Information on how to access local resources such as the Small Business Development Center

Expansion of the Startup Asotin and Startup Whitman programs includes an ongoing partnership with Walla Walla Community College. In-person outreach will be provided through the Pullman-based program manager and championed by Avista regional business managers and other partners and sponsors. For information, visit or

     – Washington State Department of Commerce