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Several small cities in Whatcom County got an economic boost this week from the Port of Bellingham when Port Commissioners, acting as the Industrial Development Corporation, voted to fund their economic development projects.
Projects in Blaine, Everson, Ferndale and Sumas were approved for funding by the port as part of the port’s support of the countywide Small Cities Partnership Group. This group of mayors reviews requests for funding and makes recommendations to the Port of Bellingham.
Since 2004, the port has dedicated a portion of its Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) bond earnings to supporting economic development projects in the small cities. The cities are required to provide matching funds. Often the port funding is provided during the early planning and design phases of city projects, which can be a difficult phase to accomplish without outside help.
"This kick-starting of projects in the small cities of our port district has been a real success over the years,” said Port Commission President Scott Walker. “The partnership between local and port expertise and funding has been good for Whatcom County’s economy."
Projects receiving port funding in 2012 are:-- City of Ferndale: $20,000 for construction design of two roundabouts on Main Street on each side of Interstate 5 to provide improved traffic flow to support development of up to 1 million square feet of new retail/commercial space, which could generate up to 1,300 jobs.
-- City of Sumas: $15,000 for engineering services related to the replacement of one of the city’s wells, which serves the City of Nooksack. The replacement will increase water capacity and will support growth needs for agriculture production and development. The City of Sumas providing a $15,000 cash match to the port funds.
-- City of Blaine: $12,000 for final engineering work on the Gateway Business Park Regional Stormwater Treatment Project. These funds will allow the completion of engineering work prior to construction. The city expects to receive a $2.5 million state Public Works Trust Fund loan for the construction phase, which is also providing match for the final design. Once completed, the project will serve the 190-acre business park, which is on former Blaine Airport property.
-- City of Everson: $10,000 for engineering work for the extension of water and sewer utilities to 86 undeveloped acres of industrial land adjacent to Mission Road. The city is providing $10,000 in matching funds and already has secured a $517,000 state Transportation Improvement Board Grant for road construction.