As Whatcom County moves towards recovery, special programs, projects, and other resources led by the Port of Bellingham and partners will be posted here.

Partner Projects

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NW Innovation Resource Center is developing a program to support innovative small businesses and startups who are building their businesses for the future economy. Many startups fail as they typically lack the key resources needed to provide the necessary technical, project management and business support. In addition, an increasing number of existing small businesses are recognizing the need to pivot or reinvent their business to address shifting market conditions and would benefit from some of the same actions and access to talent required of startup businesses. While efforts persist to engage, upskill and re-employ laid off workforce, this dislocation of the workforce affords an opportunity to expand startup activity in the region; as well as provide start-ups and existing, established businesses with access to talent.

Existing resources will also be incorporated, including NWIRC workshops, advisory services, facilities and when feasible, utilization of workforce development resources to support the engagement of dislocated workers.

Upon implementation, the goals of this program include:

- Increase innovative start-up activity in the region, with an emphasis on recovery, resiliency and building the future economy;

- Support existing, innovative small business retention and recovery;

- Increase start-up and innovative small business access to regional talent;

- Retain talent in the region’s workforce, particularly in science, technology, engineering and financial disciplines; and

- Provide an opportunity to expand entrepreneur experience of dislocated workers and recent graduates.

It is envisioned that this project will provide an opportunity for dislocated workers to share their extensive knowledge and skills to improve the success level of these new and existing small businesses; as well as explore entrepreneurial opportunities for their own ideas and engage in workshops. Additionally, the program seeks to cultivate opportunities to engage recent college/university graduates to work with innovative start-ups or existing small businesses to gain experience and cultivate entrepreneurial skills, with the support of an experienced mentor.

The program will emphasize support of innovations that align with the digital economy of the future and emerging technology. By working together, we can help the current economy while at the same time building the skills and technologies needed for our future economy.

Next steps

NW Innovation Resource Center is in the process of reaching out to organizations to support effective outreach and engagement of the target audiences for this program; completing online and in person programs for both businesses and workers; completing other materials and resources to implement an effective program.

For more information, please contact: Diane Kamionka (360-739-2968) or visit the website: NW Innovation Resource Center 


Western Washington University Small Business Development Center

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at WWU leads Whatcom County in terms of business recovery technical assistance, as part of Team Whatcom. The SBDC can help you with: identifying financial tools, understanding new tools and resources made available by local, state, and federal authorities, and coordinating with local lenders to relay the needs of clients. Any issues related to technical assistance should be coordinated via the SBDC. Their office is doing web-based small business consulting until further notice. You can also visit their COVID-19 business resource web page for additional information and business resources as tools are identified and developed.

If you are interested in setting up an appointment, please complete your client profile here. Upon completion, the SBDC will contact you to coordinate an appointment that works well for your schedule.

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