Manufacturing is the fastest growing employment sector in Whatcom County since the Great Recession.
9,000+ manufacturing employees
Join More Than 300 Manufacturing Companies
From rope, to solar panels, to breakfast cookies, Whatcom County produces about $3 billion worth of diverse goods and services that are shipped and sold around the world. From finding the right facility and equipment, to accessing raw materials and trained workers—Whatcom County offers the resources and guidance you need to successfully and sustainably grow your manufacturing business.
See the list of 100 things made in Whatcom County.
Gateway to a Global Market
Ideally located midway between Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC, Whatcom County gives you a front-row seat to Washington’s booming export economy. With a deepwater marine port, railway access, an international airport, and quick access to I-5, Whatcom County’s ideal location can help your locally-made goods reach a global market. In fact, $14.8 billion worth of exports pass through Whatcom County’s five ports of entry every year. Contact the Port of Bellingham to learn more about manufacturing in Whatcom County.
$10 billion in goods & services manufactured locally
2 Million Customers—Just 30 minutes Away
While Whatcom County is considered rural, just 20 minutes north of us is the Lower Mainland—a bustling metropolis of more than 2 million people, making Whatcom County the ideal location to export your product to the Canadian or American market. And while exporting goods can seem intimidating, our border crossing has it down to a science. Between minimal wait times, a streamlined process, and skilled brokers and accountants who manage all your cross-border transactions, Whatcom County is highly equipped to bring your product across the border.
Access to Equipment and Raw Materials
One of the biggest benefits to manufacturing in Whatcom County is the easy access to machinery, equipment, and raw materials. From lumber, to heavy machinery, to rock and gravel quarries—much of what you need can be found within, or nearby, our county. We’re also home to many equipment suppliers and repairmen who can help maintain and operate machinery of all kinds.
Washington State provides a number of exemptions and credits toward sales taxes and B&O taxes, many of which specifically apply to manufacturing activities and renewable energy. Whatcom County also offers a Foreign Trade Zone program that reduces operating costs—particularly for exports and imports, as well as Industrial Revenue Bonds to finance your company. Contact the Port of Bellingham to learn more.
Affordable Real Estate
Whatcom County has a variety of regions zoned for light manufacturing and heavy industry. Bellingham, Blaine, Lynden, Ferndale, and Sumas have substantial industrially-zoned properties. The Cherry Point Heavy Industrial Area, located west of Ferndale, has more than 7,000 gross acres of land. If you’re a Canadian manufacturer, our real estate is significantly more affordable than the British Columbia market, allowing you to tap into the US and Canadian market—without breaking the bank.
Explore Whatcom County’s zoning maps here. To find available real estate, go to the Whatcom Prospector website.
Training and Talent
Bellingham Technical College offers a variety of programs specifically designed for manufacturing; these include welding technology, manufacturing engineering technology, precision machining, industrial maintenance and mechatronics, and many others. Western Washington University also offers programs in manufacturing engineering, industrial design, plastics and composites, electrical engineering and more, while Whatcom Community College provides programs in business administration, financing, accounting, and others.
For recruiting help, reach out to the Northwest Workforce Council—a free resource that connects you with local talent.
MEET YOUR SUPPORT TEAM
John Michener Port of Bellingham
The Port serves existing businesses countywide, on and off Port property, with retention and expansion support. We also manage inbound investment leads and work to attract new business to Whatcom County.
CJ Seitz WWU Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
The SBDC is your go-to team for small business help. They’ll connect you with a Certified Business Advisor, who will help you create a business plan, develop financial forecasts, obtain financing, handle human resources, and more.