The Voice of Business in Whatcom County
The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry is the leading advocate for businesses in the Northwest Washington region. The chamber advocates for a strong business community and aims to make the Bellingham and Whatcom County area a great place to live, work, shop and play by influencing public policy, aiding in economic development and helping its members succeed.
The primary role of a chamber of commerce is to help create a strong economy. The chamber doesn’t do that by directly starting up new businesses, creating jobs or exporting products, it does that by making it easier for local businesses to do business. However, the chamber doesn’t do this alone; there are a variety of organizations that assist businesses, and the chamber often partners with these organizations for the betterment of the community.
In addition, the chamber offers a variety of programs to help the local business community, like monthly networking events that help the chamber’s business members make new connections educational events on subjects important to local businesses.
Many think the chamber is a government entity or is funded by tax dollars. The truth is that the chamber is an independent, membership-based organization solely funded by its membership dues and event revenue. All the businesses and community events and programs the chamber hosts are funded by those individual member businesses.
By sponsoring the chamber’s popular community events, members can reach new consumers thanks to the many marketing and outreach benefits an event sponsorship offers. The chamber also offers marketing options like email blasts or promotion of an open house, so members can reach other parts of the community and other chamber members.
One of the chamber’s key responsibilities is making sure that business has an equal and fair voice regarding the issues facing the business community. For example, the chamber led the charge when the Department of Homeland Security, looking for a new revenue stream, proposed a toll on traffic crossing the U.S. border. The result potentially could have decreased the flow of traffic and goods across the border. In Whatcom County, where local retail outlets see up to 50% of their shoppers from Canada, the results could have been devastating. Border-area chambers from coast to coast lobbied to convinced the Feds that the economic toll to local businesses was too high a price to pay. This is just one example of how chambers of commerce look out for the best interest of business.
With a variety of marketing and outreach benefits, networking opportunities, resources to help your business grow and strong advocacy in all levels of government, there is no question that your voice is heard louder and stronger as a member of the chamber.
Troy Wills, First Federal (Chair)
Anne Rasmussen, PeaceHealth
Lynn Murphy, Puget Sound Energy
Don Kurtis, Cascade Radio Group
Cale Luna, Advanced Solutions Tech
Lesa Boxx, Country Financial
Seth Woolson, Chmelik, Sitkin & Davis PS, Attorneys at Law
Lori Reece, REMAX of Whatcom County
Keith Coleman, SpringHill Suites by Marriott
Kathy Herndon, VSH CPAs
Anne Bowen, Edward Jones
Chris Roselli, Western Washington University
Michael Lilliquist, City of Bellingham
Rud Browne, Whatcom County
Rob Fix, Port of Bellingham
Bob Wilson, Whatcom Council of Governments
Cassie Robles, Whatcom Young Professionals