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Five small cities in Whatcom County will get some extra help with their economic development projects this year. The Port of Bellingham’s Board of Commissioners approved spending $80,000 in matching funds for projects in Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden and Nooksack.
“This fund helps meet our transportation and infrastructure needs to support economic expansion and jobs for our communities,” said Sumas Mayor Bob Bromley.
Bromley is part of the Small Cities Partnership, which reviewed funding requests for the port. The applicants are providing $150,000 in local and other matching funds.
“The port’s economic development efforts range from working directly with businesses, to developing land and operating transportation terminals,” said Port Commission President Jim Jorgensen. “I am especially proud of our Small Cities Partnership Fund because this type of economic development reaches throughout the county, helping our small cities.”
Since the fund was created in 2004, the port has provided $444,755 to small cities, primarily so that they can move ahead in the early phases of projects with engineering, study and preliminary design. Often those early phases are very difficult to fund.
Here are the projects funded for 2013:
CITY OF BLAINE: $15,000 in port matching funds with a $15,000 city cash match for the city to hire a consultant to create an economic development strategy to determine the marketing and development of the city’s industrial areas. A special area of focus will be the Gateway Zone (formerly the Blaine Airport area).
CITY OF EVERSON: $15,000 in port matching funds with a $20,000 city cash match to support the expansion of Lincoln Street east to Blair Drive to access undeveloped commercial area behind the Everson Shopping Center. This phase of funding will support the land surveying and legal services so that the city can apply for a Transportation Improvement Board grant for the construction.
CITY OF FERNDALE: $17,500 in port matching funds with a $20,000 city cash match to study the feasibility of new roundabouts to help with traffic flow and safety to accommodate large scale commercial development in the Slater/Rural Avenues area off of Interstate 5, as well as for northbound access to the Bellingham International Airport.
CITY OF LYNDEN: $17,500 in port matching funds with a $20,000 city cash match to engineer and permit the connection of Riverview Road between South 6th Street (Historical Business District) and Hannegan Road to complete the transportation network and access 25 acres of commercial property. Once the design is complete the city will seek construction funding.
CITY OF NOOKSACK: $15,000 in port matching funds with a $75,000 city cash match to provide engineering support toward an upgrade of the Everson Wastewater Treatment Plan. Port and city funds will complete design engineering and the Everson and Nooksack communities are securing grants and low-interest loans for the $2 million construction project.
The Port of Bellingham is a countywide independent government charged with pursuing economic development, operating transportation terminals, and being a steward of public lands and resources. The Port operates the Bellingham International Airport, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, the Fairhaven Transportation Station and marinas in Bellingham and Blaine. Its Real Estate Division manages 315 acres of property, with 180 tenants and 1 million square feet of leasable space.
Port operations are responsible for over 4,000 jobs in Whatcom County.