The Small City Partnership is an initiative of local government leaders to create and support a healthy and diversified economy for its residents.
In 2000, the Port of Bellingham led the effort to expand economic development leadership to all of Whatcom County and to initiate a collaborative approach with other agencies in the county, working on economic development and quality of life issues. The partnership’s key activities included the following:
Creating information and planning for public investment in the county
Developing a blueprint for the economic future
Providing better research and understanding of the economy
The Partnership re-focused its role in collaboration with the Small City Caucus to work directly with the six smaller municipalities while maintaining rural outreach and coordination with local economic development groups.
Small City Economic Development Fund
In 2004 The Port of Bellingham initiated a matching fund program to assist smaller incorporated cities with economic development projects. The purpose of these planning funds is to help the cities evaluate the feasibility and secure other funding programs to implement job-creating economic development projects. Projects are submitted to the Port on an annual basis and then are reviewed and prioritized through the Partnership before being awarded by the Port Commission. Through 2016 the port contributed $662,210 to small city projects, the cities have provided $1,076,617 in match and over $42 million in capital project funds have been raised to complete infrastructure projects. These projects have supported private investment and job creation across the cities.