The Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce Cross Border Committee met on January 24th.

One item of note was that it is increasingly harder to obtain qualified employees through the H1B VISA program. The results show some US companies are moving to Canada or opening offices in Canada to attract a highly qualified, diverse employees.

Laurie Trautman of Western Washington University’s Border Policy and Research Institute (BPRI) presented some preliminary information that they have gathered.

The Whatcom County border crossings in general have seen a decline with a few upswings since September 11th, 2001 but use of the NEXUS program has increased. In fact, Laurie said that the Whatcom County border crossings have the highest NEXUS usage in the country.

Every five year the BPRI surveys southbound border traffic. Their recent survey was in June and July of 2018.  9% of those drivers were headed to Whatcom County to pick up mail which was an increase from 7% stating that it was less expensive to buy certain products for the US and that there is a greater variety for products available in the US.  With the increase of mail services, conversely Whatcom County retailers have seen a decline in traditional shopping.

Whatcom County border crossings include Blaine’s Peace Arch/Pacific Highway, Lynden/Aldergrove, Sumas/Abbotsford-Huntingdon and Point Roberts.