by: Eva Grace

Whatcom County is a regional hub in Northwestern Washington State, situated west of the Cascade Range, ninety-two miles north of Seattle, and eighteen miles south of the Canadian border. Whatcom County benefits from its unique location and easy access to both Seattle and Vancouver, Canada.

Whatcom County economy:

The economic diversity in Whatcom County includes agriculture, forestry, fishing, construction, retail and information technology. Manufacturing, real estate, government and healthcare provide the largest GPD contribution.  Due to its close proximity, British Columbia plays a significant role in the local retail, travel, hospitality, manufacturing, as well as a major partner in Washington’s import and export stream. Whatcom County has diverse farmland with berry and dairy production, (largely in the north county region), producing four percent of Washington’s agriculture sales.

Tourism and Leisure:

Washington Tourism Alliance and Washington State Destination Marketing Organization (WSDMO) list three million visitors to Bellingham and Whatcom County in 2019. The scenic beauty from Mount Baker to the coast provides an abundance of outdoor activities that draws visitors and new residents to the area. Local eateries, art and music venues, unique museums, craft breweries, and the renowned Bellingham Farmer’s Market offer seasonal entertainment and year-round flavor. Whatcom County’s hiking and biking trails span approximately 190 miles and Bellingham’s trail system of approximately 80 miles connects with the Interurban Trail that follows the shoreline of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound, with views of Bellingham Bay and the distant San Juan Islands. The trailhead follows the earlier route of the Bellingham and Skagit railway that connected Skagit and Whatcom Counties from 1912 to 1930.  Beaches and Lake Whatcom and Lake Padden provide respite in the warm, dry months from July to September, and stunning views throughout winter.

Post-Secondary Schools in Whatcom County:

Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham Technical College and Northwest Indian College provide rigorous academic opportunities. Graduates contribute to the growth of the business community and vibrant workforce.

County Comprehensive Plan growth estimates for urban growth areas and non-urban areas:

Washington State Office of Financial Management reports Urban Growth Area surplus largely in Bellingham, but also in Lynden and Ferndale.

Bellingham’s projected growth is six percent over five years from 2019 to 2024.

Residential building permit applications are robust as developers respond to demand for housing.

Summary of statistics Whatcom County:

Population: 229,247 (Bellingham 91,610) 

Median Age: 38.9

Education: 35.7% bachelor’s degree or higher

Number of Households: 88,794 with 2.5 persons per household