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Whatcom’s recreation industry isn’t just in tourism, it is also in manufacturing.

Work Hard, Play Hard

Recreation isn’t just a facet of our lifestyle: it’s an integral piece of our local economy. It supports many jobs in multiple industries in Whatcom County: tourism, hospitality, education, manufacturing, retail, and more. From cycling companies, to charter boats, to skiing lessons and excursions—Whatcom County is a hub for outdoor adventure businesses and activity.

Opening an outdoor recreation business in Whatcom County allows you to work where your customers play. Plus, you and your employees get to enjoy the sort of active lifestyle you crave.

7 Million Customers Right Outside Your Door

Whatcom County is small enough that we’ve retained thousands of acres of natural beauty—but we’re close enough to large metropolitan areas that you’re never short on customers. In fact, with Vancouver, BC just 50 miles north and Seattle, WA 90 miles south—you’ll have access to more than 7 million customers within an hour-and-a-half drive.

With national recognition, like being named one of National Geographic’s “Adventure Towns” and Gallup’s 7th healthiest small city in America—Whatcom County is the destination for outdoor enthusiasts all over the world. From hiking, to biking, to fishing, to skiing—customers flock to Whatcom County to enjoy its endless adventures and businesses come here for the incredible lifestyle.

A Supportive Community

Outdoor recreation contributes a huge amount to our local economy because the locals love being outside. Meet the Mt. Baker Bicycle Club at Boundary Bay Brewery for a pint or get a cross-company team together for Ski to Sea. With nearly 300 outdoor recreation businesses within our small community, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with other industry experts and get guidance and advice.

Gear Manufacturing

Whatcom County has great potential for growth in manufacturing outdoor equipment. Kayaks and boats have a long history of manufacturing success here. In fact, we’re home to four bike companies that assemble and export their products across the globe. SMC Gear in Ferndale builds climbing equipment, like carabiners and picks, while Transition Composites designs, prototypes and manufactures advanced material structures for sports and recreation. Gear Aid makes items that helps make gear last longer. The corporate headquarters for Aerotech Golf Shafts, Allsop/Softride, and Superfeet are all located in Whatcom County. Expand your manufacturing operation to Whatcom County: contact the Port of Bellingham today for free guidance!

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Whatcom County is a cyclist’s heaven. With hundreds of miles of bike trails, along with cycling manufacturers, sellers, and repair services available across the county—cycling companies have a long history of success in Whatcom County.

For mountain bikers, you’ll find no better terrain than Galbraith Mountain, which was named one of the 10 best mountain biking destinations in America. With more than 50 miles of singletrack spread across 3,000 acres—Galbraith Mountain offers limitless entertainment and endless views of Bellingham Bay. Local sporting events, like Tour de Whatcom, Ski to Sea, and Bellingham Traverse also bring in cycling enthusiasts from around the world.

Check out the Whatcom County Bike Map to see what we have offer.

Skiing and Snowboarding

From skiing, to snowboarding, to snowshoeing, to sledding—we’re never short on outdoor adventures, regardless of the season. Named the best ski mountain in Washington State and one of the top skiing mountains in the country, Mt. Baker’s epic slopes bring in snow-lovers from all over the world. And while you’re up there, catch stunning views of Mt. Shuksan—the world’s most photographed peak.

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Watersports and Fishing

With more than 100 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of opportunities for paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and more. In fact, Outside Magazine named Bellingham the “Best Paddling and Adventure Town” in America. Businesses like Moondance Sea Kayaking Adventures, KitePaddleSurf, and Schooner Zodiac have all seen years of success on the open sea. Fishing is also a huge industry in Whatcom County—bringing in more than $100 million every year.

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Home to a whopping 16 golf courses, Bellingham was named “Best Golf City” by Golf Digest. From par-three courses to sprawling, resort-style country clubs, Whatcom County is one of the best golfing destinations in the country. Our success in this industry boils do to one word: Canadians. With more than 2 million consumers right across the border, an estimated 40%-50% of golf rounds in Whatcom County are played by Canadians.

Hiking and Camping

With hundreds of acres of family-friendly, dog-friendly, and season-friendly trails sprawling across Chuckanut Mountain and the Cascades, there are endless trails to be tackled in Whatcom County. From clothing and equipment suppliers, to tour guides, to map manufacturers—there are about as many ways to create a business around hiking and camping in Whatcom County, as there are adventures to be had.


Tara Sundin

City of Bellingham

The City of Bellingham has a long and successful history of collaborating with professionals to help grow, start, or relocate their business. Get help with permitting, zoning, obtaining a business license, and much more.

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.

Guy Occhiogrosso

Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce

Take advantage of networking breakfasts, access to mailing lists, business-related community events and seminars, and medical insurance benefits. Connect with other business professionals by contacting the Chamber today.

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