Washington’s 5th Congressional District spans from Canada to the north, Oregon to the south, and Idaho to the East. With 16,053 square miles and ten counties, the district is Washington’s second largest.
Northeastern Washington is home to Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens counties, as well as three Indian tribes. It is a landscape of great diversity and home to Sherman Pass, the highest mountain pass in Washington State.
The area encompasses vast forested areas, fertile agricultural land, orchards, wineries, year-round endless recreational opportunities, hunting, fishing, downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, berry and mushroom picking, backcountry riding, and camping, to name a few. Resource and manufacturing based industries still make up the majority of the local economies to this day.
The central part of the 5th Congressional District includes the City of Spokane, the second largest city in Washington state, as well as the rural areas of Spokane, Lincoln, Whitman, and Adams counties. Business, health care, agriculture, and education make up the backbone of the economy. Spokane hosts several big sporting events each year, including Hoopfest and Bloomsday. Gonzaga University, Whitworth University, Spokane Falls Community College, and Spokane Community College also call Spokane home. Spokane is also home to Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.
Fairchild Air Force Base is the largest single employer in the 5th Congressional District. It is home to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing and Air National Guard 141st Air Refueling Wing, who together are key enablers to the Air Force’s Global Reach capability and provide direct support to U.S. and Allied forces around the world.
Agriculture remains the primary economic mainstay outside of the Spokane metropolitan area, although changing demographics have forced farms to resize and farmers to diversify their crops in order to meet the challenges of the world market. Rural towns have become increasingly creative in looking for ways to stabilize their economies, and promote growth.
Larger towns in the central region, including Pullman (home to Washington State University) and Cheney (home of Eastern Washington University), rely on higher education and related support services to help drive the health of their communities.
Walla Walla, Columbia, Asotin, Garfield, and Franklin counties make up the southern region of the 5th Congressional District. Agriculture is the dominant industry in these outlying counties, and wheat is the number one crop. In fact, Whitman County is one of the top wheat-producing counties in the nation. Barley, corn, potatoes, asparagus, peas, and wine grapes also generate a significant portion of the annual harvest. One of the best known products is the Walla Walla Sweet Onion. The Walla Walla area is home to a booming wine and tourism industry.
Walla Walla is also home to Whitman College, Walla Walla University, and Walla Walla Community College.