Port Economic Impact

Whatcom County's Economic Engine

Passenger movement and airline services at Bellingham International Airport, business activity in real estate on port property, and maritime activities all contribute to the local economy, providing jobs, wages and business revenue within Whatcom County.

In 2013 the Port of Bellingham commissioned Martin Associates to evaluate the economic impacts generated by the port's operating divisions: real estate, aviation and maritime. This is an update of a similar report by Martin completed in 2008.  View the full report.

Report Highlights
The Port of Bellingham's contributions to Whatcom County's economy include:

  • 8,780 total jobs*  
  • $42,120 average wage for direct job holder, higher than the Whatcom County average
  • $406.3 million in total payroll  
  • $1.4 billion in business revenue
  • $37.7 million in state / local taxes
  • Visitors at the airport spent $70.3 million, supporting 520 direct jobs
  • 11% of the local economy in jobs   (80,400 county jobs reported in 2012)
  • 50% of the impact is attributable to marine trade activity

*Total jobs include direct employers on port property, jobs produced by wage expenditures by these direct employees, and jobs created when port businesses make local purchases with suppliers.

From 2008 to 2013

  • Total business revenue up $500 million
  • Total jobs grew 1,409
  • 150% increase in airport passenger activity, and new real estate development driving jobs
  • State and local taxes grew $7.9 million
  • Visitors using the airport spending more per day and staying longer
  • Total visitor spending by BLI visitors up $49.1 million - over 230% increase

Largest Employers
In direct employment the impact of Port of Bellingham operations exceed the largest employers in Whatcom County.    

Number of Direct Jobs
Port of Bellingham5,539
St. Joseph's Hospital / Peace Health2,753
Western Washington University (excluding student workers)1,575