Business Incentives

Take advantage of the most robust incentives in the State!

Bellingham’s tax incentives package offers more reductions and discounts than any other incentives program in Washington ​State. The program covers city-wide development incentives for affordable housing, sustainable development and historic preservation, along with urban village incentives. Each of these offers a variety of benefits, like expedited permitting, tax and fee reduction and more. Visit the Department of Revenue website to learn about Washington State tax incentives.

Urban Villages

Urban villages bring together commercial and residential development, and offer the perfect setting for shopping, dining out, working and living in a safe and pedestrian-friendly area. These areas offer a smart and sustainable way for Bellingham to expand, which is why the City has made it a priority to offer incentives for this kind of development, including:

  • B&O Tax Reduction: If you’re considering opening a new business in Downtown, Old Town, the Waterfront, Samish Way, or Fountain Districts you might be eligible for a graduated tax credit of 90% the first year, 75% the second year and 50% for the third year of operation.
  • Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program: Apply for an 8-12 year property tax exemption for new multi-family developments.
  • Reduced Transportation Impact Fee (TIF): Projects in urban villages receive an automatically reduced TIF rate, with additional discounts when located on a high-frequency transit route.

Learn more about urban village incentives.

Affordable Housing

Our community is committed to providing housing for people of all income levels, and one way we encourage this is by offering a series of incentives for developers that provide housing for low-income residents. To increase this kind of development, we offer a number of affordable housing development incentives that can save developers of income-restricted housing, thousands of dollars in fees:

  • Fee Reduction: Waive up to 80% of Park Impact, School Impact and Transportation Impact fees, as well as System Development Charges.
  • Funding Programs: The City offers funding for eligible low-income housing projects, with a preference for those located along transit corridors, urban villages, or within CDBG target areas, which are areas with high concentrations of low-income people.

Learn more about Affordable Housing incentives, financing and programs.

Sustainable Development

Green building is an important focus for our City and its long-term sustainability. We introduced the first solar panel building permit exemption program in the State, which helps businesses that use solar panels save more than $2,000 in fees while receiving expedited permitting. Sustainable incentives include:

  • Expedited Permitting: Get faster permitting for green building projects; free technical assistance and support is also available.
  • Solar Power: Save more than $2,000 in fees and get an expedited, two-week permit review for commercial installations (residential installations are exempt!)
  • Support for Advanced Technologies: We’ve done the work in advance to ensure innovative technologies, such as rain gardens, vegetated roofs and pavers, aren’t held up by the permitting process.

Learn more about sustainable development in Bellingham

Green Business Support

The City can help your business become one of many EnviroStars recognized businesses in Washington. The EnviroStars program helps connect your business with local incentives, rebates and resources to reduce waste, energy and pollution.

EnviroStars can help your business: 

  • Identify practices to reduce pollution, save energy and water, and potentially reduce your utility costs;
  • Access free resources, including free spill kits to clean up spills in​ your business or oil leaks in your parking lot and free water conservation tools;
  • Access rebates for facility upgrades from utilities;
  • Protect Bellingham Bay and reduce your environmental impact;
  • Reach new customers through local and regional marketing campaigns and the EnviroStars online green business directory; and
  • Be recognized as a green leader in our community.

Learn more on the Washington Green Business Program’s EnviroStars website.

Historic Preservation

Bellingham is home to a variety of beautiful historic buildings, and the greenest building is the one that already exists. To preserve our community’s history and further support sustainable development, we offer special incentives for historic preservation, including:

  • Special Valuation Tax Exemption Program: If your building is listed on the National or Local Register of Historic Places, you might qualify for a 10-year property tax reduction.   
  • System Development Charges (SDC) and Permit Fee Reduction: If your existing building in within Downtown or Old Town, and is at least 10,000 square feet, it might be eligible for an up-to-50% reduction in fees.
  • Building Code Flexibility: City permit staff have been trained in the application of the International Existing Building Code, which allows for flexibility in code requirements.
  • Adaptive Use Permits: Historic Buildings may be approved to accommodate a business that otherwise wouldn’t be allowed in that zoning district.  
  • Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit: You might qualify for a 20% tax credit depending on the usage of your building.

Learn more about historic preservation incentives.

Contact Us

We’re happy to answer any questions you have and help pinpoint which incentives apply to your project. Contact us at or 360-778-8105.