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Business

​​​​​​​​Our hearts go out to the many individuals and businesses in Whatcom County impacted by the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Employers of all sizes and sectors should ca​refully monitor the situation and take steps to protect the health of their workers, their clients, and their businesses. Please remember, it is important to document business impacts as the situation is unfolding, both for insurance purposes and for future relief efforts by state and federal agencies. There are a growing number of resources for our business community to stay informed and prepared (some of which are listed below).​

  • Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood issued a proclamation of local emergency due to COVID-19. Additional orders were signed extending payment deadlines for City utility, B & O tax and lease payments, and waiving corresponding late penalties.
  • Port of Bellingham Economic Development Recovery webpage

Whatcom ReStart will issue up to $2.6 million in general grants and another $800,000 for licensed childcare operators. For profit and non-profit businesses and organizations impacted by COVID-19 with 25 employees or less are eligible to apply fro general grants of up to $15,000 each. There is no cap on grants to support childcare.

Whatcom County and the cities of Bellingham, Lynden, Ferndale, Sumas, Everson, Nooksack and Blaine have teamed up and combined their federal CARES Act allocations to offer this competitive grant program to assist businesses that have experienced revenue losses and expenses due to COVID-19 related closures or impacts. The purpose of this program is to collaborate in support of local businesses and drive economic recovery.

Applications will be available beginning July 16, 2020 and must be submitted by July 31, 2020 at 11:59pm. No late applications will be accepted. Funding decisions are anticipated in August and funding is expected to be dispersed in September.

For more information or questions contact whatcomrestart@cob.org.

The City has an established permit process for use of the sidewalk and right-of-way for commercial purposes. Businesses who need additional space to accommodate reopening under COVID protocols are encouraged to use this tool to expand into the sidewalk and street, provided safety and passage for pedestrians can be maintained/enhanced. For more information, contact pwpermits@cob.org.

Some businesses have coordinated on proposals for full block closures or modifications. The City supports these temporary uses to support business activity during the COVID-19 related restrictions and safety protocols. Limitations on the maximum number of displaced parking stalls have been lifted during the Mayor’s Executive Order.  

The Green Cone Program is a collaboration between the City of Bellingham, Historic Fairhaven District and Downtown Bellingham Partnership. The cones provide a visual cue showing customers which restaurants and retail businesses are operating and open in Fairhaven and Downtown. Check out the flyer for more information.

​​On March 20, Mayor Fleetwood ordered the following relief measures​ take effect immediately to help ease financial pressure created by COVID-19 response:

  • Offering payment plans, waiving late payment penalties and suspending water shutoffs for approximately 27,000 utility customers, ensuring no customers face having their water and sewer services disrupted due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19.
  • Waiving or reducing rent for small businesses and nonprofits leasing City properties, including leased space in the downtown parking structure, at Boulevard Park, the Sportsplex, and other City properties. This applies to tenants whose ability to pay rent is negatively impacted by the reduced economic activity levels associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Allowing businesses that file quarterly to defer first and second quarter business and occupation (B&O) tax returns and payments until October 31, 2020

​​​Washington state launched a new online system for fielding essential business inquiries. This portal is the best place for businesses and stakeholders to get clarification and/or submit a request for inclusion under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation​.

​The City of Bellingham created this dashboard​ that provides current countywide statistics related to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in Whatcom County.​


City of Bellingham response to COVID-19

Latest City closures, business resources, local, state, and national information.