Economic Development and Business Resources
Bellingham and Whatcom County are an attractive place to do business. Our cost of living and active lifestyles make people want to live here. Businesses have access to an affordable and educated workforce. Additionally, the proximity to the Canadian border and major shipping lanes provides easy access for import/export. The business-friendly atmosphere has helped to create a variety of organizations and agencies whose job it is to attract and assist businesses in the county to help them succeed.
Whatcom County offers recruitment activities and assistance provided by the Associate Development Organization (ADO) at the Port of Bellingham. As the lead economic development agency for the region, the Port of Bellingham is the first point of contact for companies looking to open a facility anywhere here in Whatcom County. The Port has close connections with the commercial real estate brokerage community, and can assist with site selection while keeping your project confidential. They work closely with state and local agencies to help clients get the information they need when they need it. Potential tax incentives, workforce training programs, Labor Shed Analysis are just a few things they can assist with in this area. The Port also brings in other agencies and advocacy groups according to the client’s needs and goals. These typically are local organizations that work in the same sector as a prospective company and can provide valuable information about opening and operating a business here.
In addition, Bellingham Technical College (BTC) works with local employers to ensure they have qualified employees. BTC is responsive to the training needs of local businesses and work closely with those employers to ensure that there are classes and training specifically for those jobs. Their proactive approach is evident in their recent manufacturing summit which tasked industry, education, and policy leaders on identifying action steps to address the manufacturing workforce skills-gap and ways to increase the number of graduates for the manufacturing industry.
The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit membership organization that functions primarily as a business advocate. We work in partnership with the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, Whatcom Council of Governments, local institutions of higher education, and economic development agencies on inbound recruitment of new businesses and industries. These targeted efforts are designed to attract a diverse assortment of industries to create opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their economic status and level of education, which helps to ensure a healthy local economy. In addition, the chamber offers a variety of programs to help the business community including networking events, speeches and professional development training.
The Washington State Employment Securities Department also offers a program that helps struggling employers keep their employees on the job to prevent lay-offs. The Shared Work Program allows employers to temporarily reduce the work hours of permanent employees, so that the workers can collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. This translates into immediate payroll savings and prevents the loss of your skilled employees.
In addition, there are a variety of programs and organizations designed to help you. Contact the appropriate organization below for further information or call the Chamber (360) 734-1330 for a referral!
Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry
119 N. Commercial Street, Suite 110 Bellingham, WA | (360)734-1330 | www.bellingham.com
The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a nonprofit membership organization that represents the interests of business with government and provides programs to help businesses.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA | (360) 671-3990 | www.bellingham.org
Bellingham & Whatcom County Tourism is the county’s official tourism agency. It is a nonprofit organization with over 700 members representing a variety of tourism and community-related businesses.
Bellingham SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
1313 E. Maple St. #591 Bellingham, WA | (360) 685-4259 | www.bellingham.score.org
Bellingham SCORE is a national nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small business start, grow and succeed nationwide; through face-to-face, confidential business counseling services at no charge.
Downtown Bellingham Partnership
1310 Commercial St. Bellingham, WA | (360) 527-8710 | www.downtownbellingham.com
The Downtown Bellingham Partnership works closely with the City of Bellingham to provide leadership in the development of public policy that affects downtown, and they generate solutions to ensure downtown retains its vibrancy, life, and culture.
Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC)
119 N. Commercial Street, Suite 110, Bellingham, WA | (360) 593-4744 | www.agbizcenter.org
Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC) provides northwest Washington farmers with the skills and the resources required to profitably and efficiently supply their products to consumers, retailers, wholesalers, foodservice operators and food manufacturers.
Northwest Workforce Council
217 Prospect Street, Bellingham, WA | (360) 715-1501 | www.nwboard.org
The Northwest Workforce Council is responsible for governance and oversight of the workforce development system in Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan counties. The council identifies current and future workforce trends, needs and priorities, and works with stakeholders and constituencies to execute priority initiatives. The council is the regional advocate for efforts to identify sector-specific strategies that better align education, economic and workforce development initiatives.
NW Innovation Resource Center (NWIRC)
2200 Rimland Drive. Suite 210 Bellingham, WA | (360) 255-7870 | www.nwircc.com
The NWIRC helps entrepreneurs bring their business ideas to life through providing oversight and insuring that each entrepreneur has the opportunity to experience company growth and forward momentum.
Port of Bellingham
1801 Roeder Ave, Bellingham, WA | (360) 676-2500 | www.portofbellingham.com
The Port of Bellingham’s mission is to fulfill the essential transportation and economic development needs of the region while providing leadership in maintaining greater Whatcom County’s overall economic vitality through the development of comprehensive facilities, programs and services.
Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
1616 Cornwall Ave. Bellingham, WA | (360) 778-1762 | www.wwu.edu/sbdc
Western Washington University’s SBDC provides assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs in developing a business plan, obtaining financing, managing cash flow and handling HR concerns at no cost.
1701 Ellis St., Suite 221 Bellingham, WA | (360) 647-7093 | www.sustainableconnections.org
Sustainable Connections is Bellingham’s forum where businesses come together to transform and model a vibrant local economy built on sustainable practices through multiple programs including Sustainable Business Development, Green Building & Smart Growth and Energy Efficiency – encouraging green power purchasing and increased local renewable energy infrastructure.
Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington (TAGNW)
114 W. Magnolia Street, Suite 505 Bellingham, WA | (360) 318-7710 | www.tagnw.org
The Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington is a regional trade association that supports the technology industry. TAG supports local economic development by connecting, highlighting and promoting the growth of technology companies.
101 Prospect Street, Bellingham, WA | (360) 676-1521 | fortress.wa.gov/esd/worksource/
WorkSource is part of the nationwide US Employment Service providing assistance in a wide range of employment and training-related services. WorkSource provides information, technology and services for job seekers to achieve successful careers. Employers are encouraged to list job openings through WorkSource and they can contract with WorkSource to conduct preliminary candidate interviews.