Cherry Point Moratorium a ‘Serious, Risky Action’ for Whatcom County

Letter to planning commission cites proposal’s negative impact on trade, tax base — and jobs

OLYMPIA —Citing long-term harm to the economic stability of Whatcom County and the state’s trade-based economy, representatives of labor, agriculture, business and the state Legislature are asking the Whatcom County Planning Commission to reconsider a proposed moratorium on the Cherry Point Urban Growth section of the county’s comprehensive plan.

In a letter submitted to the commission today, members of Keep Washington Competitive urged the commission to consider the greater economic implications of a proposed moratorium on the Cherry Point Industrial Area. The commission is scheduled to take up the matter at its Oct. 13 meeting.

The letter, signed by KWC members from BNSF, the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council, Certified Electrical Workers of Washington, Association of Washington Business, Washington Farm Bureau, and State Reps. Luanne Van Werven and Vincent Buys, both R-Lynden, underscores the importance of our state’s trade-based economy:

“Washington is a gateway for international commerce. The state’s deep water ports and favorable geographical positioning to Asia give it a significant advantage in exports and imports. But as the country’s most trade-dependent state, where one in four jobs is tied to trade, it is concerning that the council will vote to extend this ordinance for up six months. We must work to maintain this legacy of trade through decisions that will grow and improve transportation infrastructure, rather than relying on knee-jerk reactions based upon the politics of emotions.”

Efforts by the planning commission to restrict permits at Cherry Point stand to have serious and long-term economic impacts on the county. As the letter notes, 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, way 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 letter notes:

“In addition to the current economic status quo Cherry Point supports, we have to also think about the future opportunities this moratorium will jeopardize. Washington depends on export jobs and trade to drive the economy and short-sighted decisions like this send an unfortunate signal that there are some who would prefer our state be closed for business. We must think about the larger economic consequences of this action and avoid playing politics in this matter.”

KWC urges the planning commission to set proposal aside and consider the broader implications of their decision on the people and economy of the Northwest:

“This planning commission has a responsibly to represent the hard-working families of the region and do what is best for future generations. Extending this moratorium essentially confirms that the children and grandchildren of Whatcom County residents will not have the same opportunity for good paying jobs and economic opportunity that Cherry Point currently provides.”