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Whatcom County’s vibrant working waterfront will be on full display this weekend at Bellingham’s second annual SeaFeast. The event, which takes place September 22 and 23 in downtown Bellingham and Squalicum Harbor, celebrates our community’s maritime heritage and showcases the continuing importance of the marine trades sector to our regional economy.
According to a report recently published by the Center for Economic and Business Research at Western Washington University, 6,033 jobs are created or supported by the marine trades representing 7% of Whatcom County’s total workforce. The Working Waterfront Coalition and Whatcom Commercial Fisherman’s Association sponsored the economic impact analysis and played a key role in volunteer data-gathering.
“This study illustrates the importance of a still very viable industry” said President and CEO of Bellingham Cold Storage Doug Thomas. “The Seafood and Maritime Services industries provide thousands of excellent paying jobs while a consistent base of economic activity.”
“The local maritime sector is critical to the health of our regional economy” said Port Economic Development Specialist John Michener. “Marine trades industries on Port property alone generate over $122 million in direct income and provide over $18 million in taxes each year. From Fairhaven to Blaine, we see strong signs of growth for one of the largest employment sectors in Whatcom County.”
The growth of local maritime industries comes as no surprise to Jim Kyle, Vice President of the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County that represents over 100 marine-related businesses. “Our excellent harbors, strategic location, and large cluster of close-by marine businesses make Whatcom County the best place on Puget Sound to base a commercial marine operation,” Kyle said. “And these companies produce mostly living-wage jobs, which are in short supply."
Kyle pointed out that maritime-related businesses in Whatcom County provide 3,970 direct jobs, well above the number of employees working for each of the county’s two largest employers – St. Joseph Peace Health Medical Center (2,753), and Western Washington University (1,575).
For more information about Bellingham SeaFeast including a schedule of events visit www.bellinghamseafeast.com