Posted on: March 15, 2011

Port Commission Promotes Economic Development in Small Cities

Working with small city partners throughout Whatcom County to improve the local economy is a top Port of Bellingham priority. Today Port Commissioners approved funding to assist small cities with five important local projects.
For the past several years, Commissioners funded a special Small City Economic Development Fund and worked with a Small Cities Partnership group so that the leaders in those communities could determine their top priorities.
“We are pleased to support our small cities in their economic development efforts,” said Commission President Michael McAuley. “Over the years we have seen how our funding has acted as a multiplier to help move these projects forward.”
The Commission committed $80,000 in funding for Small City projects for 2011. This funding comes from Industrial Revenue Bond earnings and will be matched by $79,000 in contributions from the small cities.

City of Blaine: This northern city will receive $20,000 for construction management, surveying and materials testing during city construction of a 450-foot commercial cul-de-sac to access former airport property recently sold to Mercer Distribution and Transport for a large-scale border inspection facility to pre-inspect containers and shipments and seal them to ship internationally. This project will be built this year.
On March 11, Blaine celebrated the ground breaking for the first business to locate on the old airport property, now called the Gateway Zone. In prior years, the Port assisted with the creation of an airport alternative use study, stormwater facilities development and construction of the main access road serving the Gateway Zone
“With the participation by the Port in a series of projects in Blaine's Gateway Zone, we have attracted a new business that will generate jobs and economic activity in Blaine," said Blaine City Manager Gary Tomsic. “The Port’s participation in the Boblett Court project helps to leverage a total funding of over $400,000 for the project. All totaled, the Port has participated in $1.3 million in road projects in the Gateway Zone.”

City of Lynden: The city of Lynden will receive funding to help with two projects. The first is $20,000 to help fund a feasibility analysis and business plan for a anaerobic digester, which could collect effluent from dairies and other feedstocks and produce methane gas that would generate electricity, natural gas quality methane gas and low-grade heat. Other project partners for funding this study include Public Utility District #1, Whatcom Farm Friends, the city of Lynden and private partners such as Darigold.
The second Lynden project is a development of a feasibility study to explore whether the city should create a Public Development Authority in its downtown area. If created, a PDA could provide a mechanism for the city to purchase property for redevelopment in the downtown, which has been struggling from the economic downturn and the fire in the Delft Square Building. The port is providing $10,000 to help fund this study, as well as building appraisals and legal and financial counsel.
“With the generous help of the Port we are able to fund a feasibility study for a waste digester and underwrite research for a public development authority,” said Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis. “Both of these projects will help Lynden and the broader community.”

City of Everson: The port is contributing $10,000 to the City of Everson to help fund a required update of its water system master plan. The plan is necessary to support water services to a light industrial area and to the commercial/retail area of the Everson downtown. The port funds will be used for planning, engineering and mapping as is needed.

City of Nooksack: Similarly, the port is providing $10,000 for the city of Nooksack to update its water system master plan to meet the capital expansion and regulatory needs for future growth in Nooksack. This plan is necessary to support creation of a new 30-acre industrial zone just north of the city limits.

The Port of Bellingham is a countywide special purpose government that focuses on economic development, job creation, operation of transportation terminals and waterfront projects. About 250 businesses operate on port property.

For More Information:
Carolyn Casey (360-676-2500 carolync@portofbellingham.com

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