Policy.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “policy” as “a high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures especially of a governmental body.”

Essentially, policy is the set of laws, regulations and standards that affect how government operates in a community. Good policy is critical to the health of the community.

But where does good policy come from?

It comes from you. From the community. From government leaders, business owners, members of the media and the general public.

That’s why not only good policy but also a good understanding of policy — and an ability to act on it — also are integral to a healthy community.

The health of the business climate here in Whatcom County directly affects the health of the community at large. And to have a healthy business climate, those in the business community need an avenue to participate in the policy process and to get involved in issues that matter to the ways they live and do business.

Providing that avenue is our job here at the Whatcom Business Alliance.

Consider the Cherry Point Economic Impact Study that the WBA commissioned with the Center for Economic and Business Research at Western Washington University. There are many opinions in Whatcom County about the impacts of development in that area. Rather than acting on opinion, however, we all need data and research to arrive at good, practical solutions. The Cherry Point study not only includes direct Cherry Point impacts but also explores data on affordable housing and poverty in Whatcom County and the role that wages play in each of those areas in addition to philanthropy, public safety and the environment. Read the study here.

The policy climate in Whatcom County — through which the “general goals and acceptable procedures” for government are forged — affects how decisions are made regarding such issues as Cherry Point. WBA works to ensure that citizens and business leaders are informed by sharing high-quality information.

Solid research and reliable data are what enable honest looks at the impacts of certain policies on a community. We’re committed to investigating the policies that affect the business climate in Bellingham and throughout Whatcom County and doing so with research such as that done by WWU’s Center for Economic and Business Research.

What can you do?

Get involved. Attend local council meetings. Read up on policy issues. Explore the WBA Policy Center, which engages in fact-based research, education, communication and advocacy on issues deemed important to local business success and community prosperity.

There is strength in numbers. Your involvement can make an impact!