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Bellingham: Economy

Bellingham: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial activity

The year 2001 delivered a number of blows to Bellingham's economy. Georgia-Pacific Corp. closed its pulp and paper mill, resulting in the loss of 420 high-paying jobs and nearly $1 million to the local economy each year. Alcoa's Intalco Works aluminum plant also shut down part of its Bellingham operations, further trimming the local work-force. Heightened border security after the September 11th terrorist strikes significantly reduced the number of visitors from Canada that spent their retail and entertainment dollar in Whatcom County.

Local officials realized that the area's dependence on resource-based industries made it particularly susceptible to such events, and that diversification was necessary to ensure future stability and growth. The downfall of diversification is that tourism- and other service-related jobs tend to pay far less than manufacturing jobs. While hospitality jobs paid an average of $26,000 per year in Whatcom County, the jobs lost at Georgia-Pacific paid about $52,000 a year, according to Jim Vleming, a state economist, in the July 31, 2002, issue of The Seattle Times.

Still, jobs in service industries are increasingly important, not just to Bellingham's economy but to that of the nation as a whole. This is due in large part to the emergence of technology-driven sectors in the 1990s. Whatcom County employment in services increased from 18.9 percent in 1981 to 25.6 percent in 2000, while manufacturing employment shrunk from 20.8 percent to 14.3 percent over the same period.

Bellingham's economy has been traditionally based on agriculture, fishing, and timber. Today, these segments are still vital components of the local economy, though of less importance than they once had been. The bulk of Whatcom County's agricultural activity involves berry and dairy farming. Although the number and size of farms has been steadily declining, production has been climbing. In 2001 the county's 201 dairy farms produced milk valued at $185 million, compared to the 480 farms and $130 million in production in 1985. During 2000, workers in Whatcom County's berry farms produced more blueberries and raspberries than any other county in the state, and ranked second in strawberries. Seed potatoes and apples are also important crops.

Commercial fishing, one of the area's oldest industries, has taken a drastic downturn due to overfishing, shortened seasons, and falling prices. Once home to one of the largest commercial fishing fleets, Whatcom County had 740 commercial vessels in 1985; by 2002 the Port of Bellingham reported only 177 such vessels. The forestry industry tends to be more stabile, as loggers in Whatcom County rely more on private lands than on public timberlands, making them more impervious to federal environmental restrictions on public resources.

Despite the losses in paper and aluminum segments, manufacturing remains an important industry in Whatcom County. Manufacturing of wood products and transportation equipment has seen gains in recent years. Boatbuilding is a crucial segment of the transportation equipment sector, as its focus has shifted from fishing vessels to the production of luxury yachts and military boats.

Healthcare is becoming increasingly vital to the local economy. Comprised of such areas as hospitals, nursing and residential care, ambulatory clinics, and social assistance, the healthcare field employed nearly 7,600 residents of Whatcom County in 2003. Across the nation, healthcare is a booming industry, driven by an aging and increasingly obese population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that certain segments of this industry will experience a growth of up to 4.5 percent in wages between 2002 and 2012.

Items and goods produced: boats, lumber and wood products, tissue paper, refined oil and petroleum products, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, seed potatoes, apples, processed frozen foods, baked goods

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Bellingham Whatcom Economic Development Council promotes local businesses, products, and services, and helps firms in interfacing with regional, national, and international markets. It assists businesses by providing information on expansion and investment decisions, and by providing liaison with government officials and community leaders. It also offers a revolving loan program and a public infrastructure program. Additionally, the Port of Bellingham, a municipal corporation, offers an industrial revenue bond program and a foreign trade zone program to benefit local businesses.

State programs

The state of Washington offers a number of incentive programs to attract new and expanding businesses to the state. Among them are B & O tax credits; sales/use tax deferrals for technology and manufacturing companies as well as for firms relocating or expanding in distressed areas; and loan programs that apply to rural areas and the redevelopment of brownfields.

Job training programs

Job training programs are offered by the state of Washington, and the Bellingham Whatcom Economic Development Council facilitates the implementation of workforce development programs. Training programs for a variety of industries, including healthcare and manufacturing, are offered by such institutions of higher learning as Bellingham Technical College, Northwest Indian College, Western Washington University, and Whatcom Community College.

Development Projects

Funding for the Depot Market Square was secured in 2004. When completed, this development will serve not only as the permanent home of the Bellingham Farmers Market, but also as a community gathering place for public and private events. Elsewhere in Bellingham, the first phase of construction of the Bellwether on the Bay was completed in the early 2000s, with the second phase underway in 2005. Bellwether on the Bay is a mixed-use complex occupying 15 acres of waterfront property. Phase I developments include two office buildings, the four-star Hotel Bellwether, a fitness center and spa, and a variety of restaurants and shops.

Aside from commercial developments, Bellingham has devoted considerable resources to improve culture, recreation, and the general quality of life. The Taylor Avenue Dock and Boardwalk was completed in 2004; this $2.9 million project restored and improved the historic dock and built a new boardwalk connecting the dock to Boulevard Park. September 2004 hailed the grand opening of the Studio Theatre, a 3,000-square-foot room within the historic Mt. Baker Theatre to host small-scale musical and theatrical productions. Also in 2004, a clean-up and restoration project was initiated at the Holly Street Landfill. Reconstruction of portions of the Civic Field Complex, including its grandstands, football field and track, stadium, and skate park, will be completed in stages from 2005 through 2006 at the cost of over $9.9 million.

Economic Development Information: Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 1201 Cornwall Ave., Ste. 100, PO Box 958, Bellingham, WA 98227; telephone (360)734-1330; fax (360)734-1332; email chamber @bellingham.com. Bellingham Whatcom Economic Development Council, 105 E Holly St., PO Box 2803, Bellingham, WA 98227; telephone (360)676-4255; toll-free (800)810-4255; fax (360)647-9413; email info@bwedc.org. Greater Whatcom Partnership for a Sustainable Economy, c/o Port of Bellingham, 1801 Roeder Ave., PO Box 1677, Bellingham, WA 98227; telephone (360)676-2500

Commercial Shipping

Whatcom County has four major locations for U.S.-Canada border crossings: two in Blaine, one in Lynden, and one in Sumas. Freight rail service is offered in Bellingham by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Canadian Rail, and Canadian Pacific railroads. Among its motor freight companies are Puget Sound Truck Lines, Roadway Express, and Yellow Transportation. The area is also home to 10 local freight brokers. Bellingham International Airport (BIA) serves as a base for charter airlines and is a port of entry for general aviation aircraft. The airport is home to Foreign Trade Zone #129, an area where foreign goods bound for international destinations can be temporarily stored without incurring an import duty. BIA also offers customs brokerage and air cargo services, and as of 2002 houses a U.S. Customs office.

The Port of Bellingham, a municipal corporation dedicated to fulfilling the essential transportation needs of the region, operates a cargo terminal with three ship berths, backed up by two warehouses. Among its exports are wood pulp and aluminum ingots from local factories; its primary import is cottonseed pulp for cattle feed. The port administers five federally designated foreign trade zones to promote manufacturing, warehousing, and trade in the region.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The following is a summary of data regarding the Bellingham metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 76,900

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 7,000

manufacturing: 8,200

trade, transportation and utilities: 14,700

financial activities: 3,000

professional and business services: 6,100

leisure and hospitality: 8,800

government: 15,500

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $18.27 (2004 annual statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 6.0% (January 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
Western Washington University 2,235
St. Joseph Hospital 1,757
Bellingham School District 1,651
Whatcom County 930
City of Bellingham 892
Haggen Inc. 843
Sodexho Services 648
Brown & Cole 634
T-Mobile 525
Fred Meyer Inc. 441

Cost of Living

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the per capita personal income for Whatcom County was $23,133 in 2002. This figure was not only below the national average of $29,469, it trailed behind Washington state overall, at $31,230. Explanations include increased competition from Canada, a decline in high-paying manufacturing jobs combined with an increase in low-paying service jobs, and an increase in the number of part-time employees.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Bellingham metropolitan area.

1999 (4th Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $179,000

1999 (4th Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 107.8 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None

State sales tax rate: 6.5% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.7%

Property tax rate: $11.40 per $1,000 of assessed value (2005)

Economic Information: Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 1201 Cornwall Ave., Ste. 100, PO Box 958, Bellingham, WA 98227; telephone (360)734-1330; fax (360)734-1332; email chamber@bellingham.com

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Bellingham: Recreation

Bellingham: Recreation

Sightseeing

Bellingham's museums are devoted to an array of topics. The Whatcom Museum of History & Art, located in downtown Bellingham, is comprised of four buildings, each with its own theme: the 1892 Old City Hall, Whatcom Children's Museum, Syre Education Center, and Arco Exhibits Building. The American Museum of Radio and Electricity is the only one of its kind in North America. This museum, which completed an expansion in 2001, houses artifacts and interactive exhibits spanning from the onset of the scientific exploration of electricity in the 17th century to the evolution of broadcast radio and its impact on American culture. The Bellingham Railway Museum chronicles the heritage and operation of railroads in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Mindport Exhibits is a collection of interactive and fine arts exhibits designed to encourage exploration, discovery, and thought. Nearby, the Lynden Pioneer Museum focuses on the heritage of Whatcom County prior to World War II with exhibits covering Front Street, agriculture, rural Victorian lifestyles, transportation, natural resources, veterans, and the military.

The International Peace Arch, located about 20 miles north of Bellingham, is one of the world's few landmarks to be listed on the national historic registries of two countries. The 67-foot-tall arch has one foot in Canada and the other in the United States, and represents the longest undefended boundary3,000 milesin the world. It commemorates the signing of the Treaty of the Ghent, which ended the war between Britain and the United States. A number of celebrations take place there each year. From May to September is a sculpture exhibition of both Canadian and American artists that includes festivities each weekend. The Peace Arch Celebration, also known as Hands Across the Border, is held in June. September brings the annual Peace Arch Dedication Days, or "Sam Hill Days," that reenact the anniversary of the arch.

Arts and Culture

The Mt. Baker Theatre has been offering theatrical entertainment since 1927. The Moorish-Spanish style former vaudeville movie palace, which is on the National Historic Register, seats 1,500 people. The theater boasts a 100-foot Moorish tower, open-beamed lobby, 80-foot interior dome, an original 215-pipe organ, state-of-the-art staging capabilities, and, some speculate, a resident ghost. The theater hosts more than 100 live events annually, including touring Broadway shows. The Studio Theatre, a 2004 addition to the Mt. Baker Theatre, stages performances in an intimate setting. Mt. Baker Theatre is also the site for performances by the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, Mt. Baker Youth Symphony, and Mt. Baker Organ Society.

The oldest community theater company in the Northwest, the Bellingham Theatre Guild, presents a year-round venue of comedies, dramas, and musicals. Western Washington University offers a wide range of performances including their summer stock season, a theatre arts series of dramas and comedies, and a performing arts series featuring world-renowned musicians and dance companies. Cutting-edge and classic jazz are the focus of the Pacific Northwest Jazz Alliance, which performs at various spots around the city.

Arts and Culture Information: Bellingham/Whatcom County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 904 Potter St., Bellingham, WA 98229; telephone (360)671-3990; fax (360)647-7873; email tourism@bellingham.org

Festivals and Holidays

The highlight of Memorial Day weekend is Bellingham's annual Sea to Ski Race, an athletic contest dating from the 1800s that is accompanied by parades, carnivals, art and garden shows, house tours, and street fairs. The Bellingham Scottish Highland Games take place in early June. Later that month in nearby Fairhaven is the annual Bowler Hat Bocce Ball Tournament, in which teams are encouraged to dress in 1890s period attire. Aerial acrobatics and fireworks turn the eyes toward the skies above the Port of Bellingham in June for AIRFEST. The Fourth of July is celebrated with the Viewing of the Blast Over Bellingham Bay. Later that month brings the Raspberry Festival at the Bellingham Farmers Market, and cowboys turn out for the International Bull-A-Rama. The Mount Baker Blues Festival in July has been voted the Best Blues Event in the state. The Bellingham Festival of Music, held for two weeks each August, features classical, chamber, jazz, and world music. Families flock to downtown's Chalk Art Festival later in the month.

For hundreds if not thousands of years, Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest have held ceremonies in honor of the salmon. This tradition is carried on at the Salmon and Corn Festival/Oktoberfest. Also in autumn is the Eldridge Area Historical Home Tour. Mount Baker is the site for the Mount Baker Country Christmas and the Western Washington University Department of Music's Messiah production. In December, the Lights of Love is celebrated at Bellingham Public Library.

Sports for the Spectator

The Bellingham Bells, with a season that runs from June through August, is a part of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. The Western Washington University Vikings compete in cross country, football, softball, track and field, volleyball, rowing, golf, soccer and men's and women's basketball. Students of Whatcom Community College participate in men's and women's basketball and soccer, and women's volleyball.

Sports for the Participant

In 2001 Outside magazine named Bellingham one of its top 10 "Dream Towns" for outdoor recreation. The city has an extensive network of hiking and biking trails, swimming pools and beaches, picnic grounds, fishing sites, softball and soccer fields, and beautiful gardens. At 10,788 feet, Mt. Baker is the highest peak in the North Cascade mountain range. It not only offers some spectacular views, it has the longest ski season in the state, with runs that curve below Mt. Shuksan. Bellingham ranked number seven of the "Best Golf Cities" by Golf Digest in 2002, and with 14 courses, Whatcom County boasts the largest concentration of public golf courses in the Pacific Northwest. Water sports abound, with sailing, kayaking, rafting, and whale watching among the favorites. Charter trips are available to the San Juan Islands or Victoria, B.C.

More than 110,000 athletes from around the world participate in the annual Sea to Ski Race, an 82.5-mile relay for teams of eight. The race begins with cross-country skiing at Mount Baker, followed by downhill skiing, running, road cycling, canoeing, mountain biking, and kayaking to the finish at Bellingham Bay. The Human Race, held each June, is a 5K/10K walk-run event in which participants raise money for their favorite charities. The course of the Baker's Healthy Start Foundation Triathlon, held each August, begins from the banks of Lake Whatcom and ends at Bloedel Donovan Park. September brings the Bellingham Traverse, a team event involving running, mountain and road biking, and canoeing/kayaking around downtown Bellingham, as well as the Discover Bellingham VolksFest, a three-day event comprised of a variety of walks.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping opportunities in Bellingham encompass both large regional malls and charming boutiques. Downtown Bellingham boasts two million square feet of businesses and shops. The Victorian buildings in the city's Fairhaven District hold a variety of specialty shops and eateries. Bellis Fair, the regional shopping mall, has 150 stores and more than 900,000 square feet of retail space, and is anchored by four major department stores. Outlet centers just a few miles from the town center draw bargain hunters. The Sunset Square Shopping Center houses more than 40 stores and restaurants, as well as a movie theater.

Beer-lovers enjoy the fare at the Boundary Bay Brewery Company, where hand-crafted ales and lagers are served in a historic warehouse, and at the Orchard Street Brewery, which serves gourmet cuisine with its homemade brew. Local eateries range from casual cafes and burger joints to restaurants offering Italian, Mexican, and Chinese cuisine, to an upscale steak house with scenic views. The Silver Reef Casino, located in Ferndale, offers food and drink, live entertainment, and gaming, as does the Skagit Valley Casino Resort.

Visitor Information: Bellingham/Whatcom County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 904 Potter St., Bellingham, WA 98229; telephone (360)671-3990; fax (360)647-7873; email tourism@bellingham.org

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Bellingham: Education and Research

Bellingham: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Bellingham School District offers special programs for disabled students, those with learning disabilities, and exceptionally capable students. The schools have computers and related technology in every classroom. An early childhood preschool program and Head Start classes are offered. In 2000 the Bellingham School District was one of only 10 districts in the state to be recognized as a "model of achievement" and receive a five-year, $4.49 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grant.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Bellingham School District as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 10,440

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 13

junior high/middle schools: 4

senior high schools: 3

comprehensive; 1 alternative

Student/teacher ratio: 16:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $30,023

maximum: $56,557

Funding per pupil: $7,365

Bellingham has one Montessori preschool, seven religious and private schools for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, one religious school for first through twelfth grade, and one religious high school.

Public Schools Information: Bellingham Public Schools, 1306 Dupont St., Bellingham, WA 98225; telephone (360)676-6400; fax (360)676-2793; email trowe@bham.wednet.edu

Colleges and Universities

Western Washington University, with nearly 12,500 students, overlooks the city on Sehome Hill. Founded in 1893, the school became a regional university in 1977. College programs include business and economics, fine and performing arts, humanities and social sciences, science and technology, the Huxley College of Environmental Studies, the Woodring College of Education, and Fairhaven College, an interdisciplinary liberal arts college. Western Washington University's graduate school offers master's degrees in art, business administration, education, music, science, and teaching.

More than 7,000 students are enrolled in Whatcom Community College, which offers a variety of two-year programs in such areas as accounting, computer information sciences, education, English, graphic design, library and information science, massage, paralegal studies, and visual and performing arts; a program in nursing was added in the fall of 2005. Northwest Indian College, one of the fastest-growing Native American colleges in the country, offers its 942 students associate degrees in Native American Studies, Oksale Native Education, Chemical Dependency Studies, and Life Sciences, as well as a certificate program in Native American Studies; additional programs in a variety of areas of professional development and vocational training are offered through the Training Institute. Degree and certificate programs in more than 50 fields, from culinary arts to radiologic technology, are offered at Bellingham Technical College. Washington State University, based in Pullman, has a Whatcom County Extension that offers non-credit education and degree programs in the fields of gardening and agriculture, family living, and environment and natural resources.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Bellingham Public Library's main building was built in 1949, and was remodeled and expanded in 1985. Its Fairhaven branch, which celebrated its centennial in December 2004, occupies an original 1912 Carnegie building on the south side of the city. The library system has a collection of more than 400,000 items that range from original manuscripts to the latest CDs, videos, and books on tape. The library offers free Internet access to patrons, quality programs for children, reference service for adults, and an online local newspaper index and catalogue, as well as a complete database of community resources. The library has a special collection on local history and is a U.S. and state documents depository.

Bellingham's colleges and universities maintain a number of libraries, many of which are open to the public. Western Washington University has a number of research institutes and libraries, including those focusing on such areas as Canadian-American studies, Pacific Northwest studies, demographics, watershed studies, economic education and research, environmental toxicology, and vehicle research. Its special collections include the Ford Fly Fishing Collection, Northwest Collection, Rare Books Collection, and the Western Collection. The Whatcom County Law Library houses more than 15,000 books and CDs covering Washington laws and practice guides, federal laws, U.S. Supreme Court reports, case law from 49 states, and legal reference materials. Bellingham Technical College maintains an Information Technology Resource Center.

Public Library Information: Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave., Bellingham, WA 98225; telephone (360)676-6860

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Bellingham: History

Bellingham: History

European Contact with Natives Minimal at First

Long before the coming of Europeans, ancestors of local Bellingham tribesthe Lummi, the Nooksack, and the Semiahmooestablished camps along the bay as part of the great migration over the land bridge that once extended from Asia to North America. Salmon from the surrounding waters was their dietary mainstay, supplemented by roots, berries, and shellfish. The tribes engaged in both warfare and trade at various times. Some historians contend that Spanish explorers were the first white men to visit the area; if so, little evidence of them remains. The Lummi and Semiahmoo still live in the area and salmon remains their chief source of sustenance.

British Captain George Vancouver weighed anchor in nearby Birch Bay during his explorations of the Puget Sound in 1792, and Lt. Joseph Widbey charted Vancouver Bay. Widbey and his men may have seen a community of more than 3,000 natives living near the bay. Vancouver is said to have named the site of present-day Bellingham after the British admiralty controller who outfitted his ships.

As a result of reports carried back to Europe about the bounty of the region, traders began to arrive and a fur industry burgeoned in the early 1800s. From 1825 to 1846 the Hudson's Bay Company held domain over the region, but in the latter year the United States and Great Britain established a boundary at the 49th Parallel, and the Hudson's Bay Company relocated to Vancouver.

Industries Emerge; A Rush for Gold

In 1852, assisted by Lummi tribesmen, Henry Roeder built a sawmill on what is now Whatcom Creek. This initiated a period of coal mining and milling that continued for many decades. Whatcom County was established in 1854. Although the area of Bellingham remained untouched during the Indian War of 18551856, an infantry group was sent to Bellingham Bay in 1856 to establish Fort Bellingham.

More than 10,000 people were drawn to Bellingham during the Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858. A tent city mushroomed, until would-be prospectors were advised by Canadian officials that before starting digging they had to report to Victoria, British Columbia. Eventually, fire and fatalities brought difficult times to the mining industry, and Roeder's mill site was sold to a company from Kansas City. Soon after, a boom was initiated by the building of a railroad that connected Bellingham to the trans-Canada railroad line. Other major segments of the economy at that time were farming, fishing, and canning. In the late 1880s the town of Fairhaven, now part of Bellingham, was promoted as the "next Chicago" by entrepreneur Nelson Bennett, and hundreds of workers were hired to build hotels, homes, and office buildings. People began arriving at the rate of 300 per month, among them gamblers and prostitutes. A vigilante group tried to keep the peace until a police force was finally formed in 1890. In 1902 a brewery was founded in Bellingham that at its height produced more than 100,000 barrels of beer annually. However, the Bellingham Bay Brewery disappeared forever with the beginning of prohibition in 1917.

Bellingham was formed in 1903 with the consolidation of four townsWhatcom, New Whatcom, Fairhaven, and Bellinghaminto one town with the name Bellingham. During the late 1800s tall ships could be seen loading coal, salmon, and timber for transport to cities around the globe. Prosperous businessmen began building impressive homes in the Sehome Hill section of the city, many of which are now used for student housing. The Whatcom Normal School opened in 1899, later to become Western Washington College of Education in 1937, Western Washington Sate College in 1961, and finally Western Washington University within the following decade.

In June 1999 a fuel pipeline exploded along Whatcom Creek, killing three people along with thousands of fish and other wildlife. The tragedy resulted in major changes to federal pipeline laws and the creation of a Washington State Office of Pipeline Safety. After a rocky economical start to the twenty-first century, today's Bellingham is a growing and vibrant community set to the scenic backdrop of majestic Mt. Baker.

Historical Information: Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Goltz-Murray Archives Building, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9123; telephone (360)650-7747; fax (360)650-3323; email cpnws@wwu.edu

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Bellingham: Population Profile

Bellingham: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 107,000

1990: 127,780

2000: 166,814

Percent change, 19902000: 30.5%

U.S. rank in 1980: Not reported

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 185th

City Residents

1980: 45,794

1990: 52,179

2000: 67,171

2003 estimate: 71,289

Percent change, 19902000: 28.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 466th

U.S. rank in 1990: 477th (State rank: 9th)

U.S. rank in 2000: 461st (State rank: 10th)

Density: 2,619.3 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 59,031

Black or African American: 655

American Indian and Alaska Native: 997

Asian: 2,853

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 116

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 3,111

Other: 1,450

Percent of residents born in state: 49.4% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 3,502

Population 5 to 9 years old: 3,228

Population 10 to 14 years old: 3,151

Population 15 to 19 years old: 6,373

Population 20 to 24 years old: 11,603

Population 25 to 34 years old: 9,616

Population 35 to 44 years old: 8,186

Population 45 to 54 years old: 8,690

Population 55 to 59 years old: 2,584

Population 60 to 64 years old: 1,881

Population 65 to 74 years old: 3,537

Population 75 to 84 years old: 3,292

Population 85 years and older: 1,528

Median age: 30.4 years

Births (2003)

Total number: 876

Deaths (2003)

Total number: 988 (of which, 2 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $19,483

Median household income: $32,530

Total households: 28,012

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 3,925

$10,000 to $14,999: 2,389

$15,000 to $24,999: 4,476

$25,000 to $34,999: 3,962

$35,000 to $49,999: 4,530

$50,000 to $74,999: 4,654

$75,000 to $99,999: 1,847

$100,000 to $149,999: 1,450

$150,000 to $199,999: 450

$200,000 or more: 329

Percent of families below poverty level: 14.9% (of which, 61.9% were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 5,108

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Bellingham: Communications

Bellingham: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Bellingham's daily paper is The Bellingham Herald, which appears every morning. The Western Front is published twice-weekly from fall to spring by students of Western Washington University. The Bellingham Business Journal and the Northwest Business Monthly focus on local business news and features each month.

Television and Radio

One independent television station broadcasts out of Bellingham, which has two cable TV stations. Bellingham has two AM and four FM radio stations, covering classical music, jazz, rock, news, talk, and public radio.

Media Information: The Bellingham Herald, 1155 N. State St., Bellingham, WA 98225; telephone (360)676-2600

Bellingham Online

The Bellingham Herald. Available www.bellinghamherald.com

Bellingham Public Library. Available www.bellingham publiclibrary.org

Bellingham Public Schools. Available www.bham.wednet.edu

Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Available www.bellingham.com

Bellingham/Whatcom County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available www.bellingham.org

Bellingham Whatcom Economic Development Council. Available www.www.bwedc.org

City of Bellingham home page. Available www.cob.org

Greater Whatcom Partnership for a Sustainable Economy. Available www.whatcompartnership.org

Selected Bibliography

Dillard, Annie, The Living (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992)

Gilliland, Miki, Entering Bellingham (Bellingham: Bayside Press, 1989)

Manning, Harvey, Walking the Beach to Bellingham (Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press, Reprint Edition, 2002)

Roth, Lottie Roeder, The History of Whatcom County (Seattle: Pioneer Historical Publishing Co., 1926)

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Bellingham

Bellingham

Bellingham: Introduction
Bellingham: Geography and Climate
Bellingham: History
Bellingham: Population Profile
Bellingham: Municipal Government
Bellingham: Economy
Bellingham: Education and Research
Bellingham: Health Care
Bellingham: Recreation
Bellingham: Convention Facilities
Bellingham: Transportation
Bellingham: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: as Whatcom (1852); renamed Bellingham (1903)

Head Official: Mayor Mark Asmundson (NP) (since 1996)

City Population

1980: 45,794

1990: 52,179

2000: 67,171

2003 estimate: 71,289

Percent change, 19902000: 28.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 466th

U.S. rank in 1990: 477th (State rank: 9th)

U.S. rank in 2000: 461st (State rank: 10th)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 107,000

1990: 127,780

2000: 166,814

Percent change, 19902000: 30.5%

U.S. rank in 1980: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 185th

Area: 31.74 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 68 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 51.5° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 38 inches of rain, 20 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: trade, services, government

Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (January 2005)

Per Capita Income: $19,483 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 5,108

Major Colleges and Universities: Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, Northwest Indian College

Daily Newspaper: The Bellingham Herald

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Bellingham: Transportation

Bellingham: Transportation

Approaching the City

Bellingham is located along western America's Interstate-5 corridor, nearly equidistant from Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. State Routes 11, 539, 542, and 544 form a highway grid that covers most of the interior of western Whatcom County, linking with I-5 near Bellingham. Bellingham International Airport provides service to more than 250,000 passengers annually. Horizon Airlines flies passengers to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Allegiant Air provides direct service four times each week to Las Vegas, NV, and San Juan Airlines runs daily to Friday Harbor and San Juan Island. The Airporter Shuttle delivers passengers to local points. At the Port of Bellingham, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal and Fairhaven Station launch cruises by ferry to Alaska, the San Juan Islands, and Victoria, British Columbia. Amtrak provides passenger rail service to Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., and Canadian Pacific and Canadian Rail travel east through Canada. Regional bus service is offered by Greyhound Bus Lines.

Traveling in the City

Interstate 5 runs north and south through the center of Bellingham. State Highway 11 runs north and south down the coast of Bellingham Bay at the south end of town. The Whatcom Transportation Authority provides local bus service around Bellingham and to Blaine, Ferndale, and Lynden.

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Bellingham: Convention Facilities

Bellingham: Convention Facilities

Northwest Washington Fairgrounds, located in nearby Lynden, offers more than 70,000 square feet of meeting space in eight rooms, the largest of which can seat 5,000 people. Within the city of Bellingham, the Mt. Baker Theatre offers three meetings rooms that can accommodate 120-1,500 people. The Bellingham unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County provides more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space, and Western Washington University offers 24 separate rooms that can each seat up to 750 attendees.

A number of area facilities provide both meeting space and lodging. Semiahmoo Resort offers 7,200 square feet in the largest of its 17 meeting rooms. The Best Western Lakeway Inn & Conference Center has 12 meeting rooms that can seat from 504 to 700 people. The Homestead Farms Golf Resort & Convention Center, located 20 miles north of Bellingham in Lynden, has 6 meeting rooms, the largest of which is 2,400 square feet in size.

Convention Information: Bellingham/Whatcom County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 904 Potter St., Bellingham, WA 98229; telephone (360)671-3990; fax (360)647-7873; email tourism@bellingham.org

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Bellingham: Geography and Climate

Bellingham: Geography and Climate

Bellingham is the seat of Whatcom County, the most northwestern county in the United States. The city is located 90 miles north of Seattle, 50 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia, and 20 miles from the Canadian border at Baline. Bellingham, situated at the foot of 10,788-foot Mount Baker, is set on several hills overlooking the 172 San Juan Islands.

Bellingham has a mild, maritime climate with temperatures ranging from 45 to 60 degrees in spring and fall, 30 to 50 degrees in winter, and 60 to 80 degrees in summer. Most days have at least partial sunshine and snow; sleet and hail occur only about 15 days per year.

Area: 31.74 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 68 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 40.5° F; July, 63.5° F; annual average, 51.5° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 38 inches of rain, 20 inches of snow

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Bellingham

Bellingham (bĕl´Ĭnghăm´), city (1990 pop. 52,179), seat of Whatcom co., NW Wash., a port of entry on Bellingham Bay, one of the best harbors on the U.S. Pacific coast, near Canada; inc. 1904. It is an important shipping point for lumber, pulp, paper, and canned and frozen fruit. There is shipbuilding and diverse manufacturing (machinery, electrical equipment, concrete and wood products, food and beverages, and aircraft and vehicle parts). Settled in 1852 as Whatcom, it merged with three adjoining towns to form Bellingham in 1903. Western Washington Univ., Bellingham Technical School, and Whatcom Museum of History and Art are in the city, which has many notable scenic parks. The Lummi reservation is nearby. Moran State Park is on Orcas Island in Bellingham Bay.

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Bellingham: Health Care

Bellingham: Health Care

The people of Bellingham are served by St. Joseph's Hospital, which has 253 beds across two campuses. The hospital has a staff of 270 physicians, a medical surgical intensive care unit, a trauma center, and emergency, obstetrics, and oncology departments. Services offered include open heart surgery, outpatient surgery, psychiatric and addiction care for children and adults, and geriatric services. The city is also home to more than 80 dentists, 14 naturopathic physicians, and 80 chiropractors.

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Bellingham: Municipal Government

Bellingham: Municipal Government

Bellingham has a mayor-council form of government. Six council members serve four-year terms and a seventh council member serves a two-year term as a council person-at-large. The mayor serves a four-year term.

Head Official: Mayor Mark Asmundson (NP) (since 1996; current term expires 2007)

Total Number of City Employees: 892 (2003)

City Information: City of Bellingham, Bellingham City Hall, 210 Lottie St., Bellingham, WA 98225; telephone (360)676-6900; email mayorsoffice@cob.org

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Bellingham: Introduction

Bellingham: Introduction

Bellingham, a coastal city built around the deep water harbor of Bellingham Bay, is set against the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains. Bellingham is the last major city before the coast of Washington state meets the border of Canada. It was named in honor of Sir William Bellingham, who was director of stores for the British Admiralty. The renovated old, historic buildings, views of the water and the mountain, and gorgeous sunsets make for a picture-postcard setting.

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