WBA policy highlights: What we’re watching for you

Good policy is critically important to a healthy community. And, as we’ve discussed in the past, a good understanding of policy also is integral to community success.

That’s because local business leaders — that’s you — need to be able to make sense of local policies in order to get involved in issues that matter to the ways you do business here in Whatcom County. A good understanding of policy is the foundation that allows all of us to be proactive on the issues, instead of reactive.

Here are some of the issues the WBA Policy Center is monitoring on your behalf. As important updates happen, we’ll dive into them in more detail to explain further how these issues may impact the success of your business or industry, what Whatcom Business Alliance is doing about them, and what you can do to help.

COB Climate Action Plan: The City of Bellingham’s Climate Action Plan covers a number of areas, but one issue the WBA Policy Center is watching closely is a provision to reduce reliance on fossil fuels that would require all homes in Bellingham to pull natural gas heating and appliances and replace it with electric. Imagine the economic impact of that ruling if it goes through. Watch for more information on these plans in the coming months.

Workforce development: Companies in Whatcom County have realized that one of the best ways to ensure they have the workforce they need is to build it themselves. WBA’s Youth Engagement Initiative works with the entire community to encourage youth engagement in the local economy, thus ensuring business success and community prosperity long into the future. One way that’s been working is through the YESWhatcom job portal, which helps connect local companies with the workforce of the future.

Family farming and agriculture: In support of Whatcom Family Farmers, the WBA Policy Center is paying close attention to regulations that impact agriculture in Whatcom County, such as policies regarding land use and water quality. Working alongside local farmers and leaders in the ag industry, the WBA Policy Center is monitoring potentially harmful policies and regulations that have ramifications for local farmers.

Cherry Point: Wages for workers in the Cherry Point area are double the average in Whatcom County. That’s great news for the county as a whole, because the money paid to petroleum workers and others in the Cherry Point area is spent at businesses all over the county. In fact, each Cherry Point job supports an additional 1.71 jobs in Whatcom County, according to a 2019 impact study prepared by Western Washington University’s Center for Economic and Business Research. The WBA Policy Center is monitoring Cherry Point because of local action taken that has the potential to harm businesses there.