Whatcom Moratorium a Threat to State, Local Economy

Cherry Point moratorium would adversely impact trade, tax base and jobs

BELLINGHAM —An ordinance voted on and renewed by the Whatcom County Council Tuesday night to freeze applications and permits for any new or expanded facilities at Cherry Point will have serious, long-term and negative economic consequences, impacting local family-wage jobs, economic development, charitable giving and the local tax base. This is the fourth time this moratorium has been extended.

Whatcom County is already heavily reliant on the tax base developed over time at Cherry Point. There are currently more than 2,100 family wage jobs connected to activity at Cherry Point that have an average salary of $114,000 per year, well above the county average. Economic activity just at Cherry Point provides $200 million in annual tax revenues on top of the millions in local charitable contributions shared with various Whatcom charities, ranging from the Red Cross to the Boys & Girls Club.

“The council is setting the people of Whatcom County up for serious economic harm with this moratorium,” said Bob Gay, business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 191. “Cherry Point is one of the biggest economic drivers in the county and certainly among the highest paying private employers in the area.  This moratorium sends the wrong message to future investors and private employers looking to add jobs in our county. We’re talking about high quality, family-wage jobs that help support everything from our schools and public safety to local nonprofits and other local businesses,” he added.

“Once they’re gone, it’s going to be very difficult to add them back.”

Mark Martinez, president of the Washington Building Trades Council said these actions stand to adversely affect the state’s competitiveness and ability to create and maintain family wage jobs.

“Washington state is a leader in world trade. But we cannot continue to lead with these kind of policies,” said Martinez. “Our state’s deep-water ports and proximity to Asian markets are part of what makes our state a trade powerhouse. We need facilities like Cherry Point to maintain that competitive edge. This is only going to force businesses to look elsewhere which means the jobs will go elsewhere,” he said.

“Now is the time for the council to consider the larger economic consequences of their actions. This will have deep, long-term impacts on our jobs and economy.”