Two local agencies will be joining forces at the beginning of the year to continue work in economic development and regional transportation planning.
On Wednesday, Dec. 12 the Whatcom Council of Governments accepted a request by the Northwest Economic Council to merge as of Jan. 1, 2013. The two agencies will retain the same names, with the economic council moving into WCOG’s offices at 314 E. Champion St. in Bellingham.
The Northwest Economic Council was established as a way to bring the private, public and non-profit sectors together to grow the county’s economy. The Council of Governments is a group of Whatcom County’s elected officials to address issues that impact multiple communities. It focuses on regional transportation.
According to a news release, one reason for COG’s decision to absorb the economic council was influenced in part by its earlier deicison to assume responsibility for updating the county’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. The CEDS has not been thoroughly updated since it was adopted in 2002.
Along with being involved with the CEDS update, this merger also means more potential input from the private sector on transportation planning, said Bob Wilson, executive director of WCOG.
This merger continues what has been a year of change for local economic development and planning agencies. Earlier this year Western Washington University announced it was closing the Center of Economic Vitality and expand its Small Business Development Center.
Also earlier this year, the Whatcom Business Alliance formed. It’s a privately funded group that has the goal of improving the local business climate.