Guest editorial: Enhancing economic development in Blaine

Dave Wilbrecht.

By Blaine city manager Dave Wilbrecht

I appreciate Stefanie Donahue’s article in the August 24 edition of The Northern Light about the City’s Strategic Economic Initiative (SEI) and our efforts to encourage and enhance economic development in Blaine; we’re working to bring more people to the city.

The city of Blaine’s citizens have demonstrated their commitment to make Blaine a great place to live, work and play. Last year they supported the Marine Park Play structure and the Pavilion at the community center; both have become very popular destinations.

Earlier in the year, voters approved the Transportation Benefit District for streets and trails. Events like Summer Fun in the Park in Marine Park last weekend show that if there is an event or activity that interests people, they will choose Blaine. Many more examples exist of people choosing to come to Blaine for events and activities including: Wings Over Water, the Old Fashioned 4th of July, the Farmer’s Market and the Jazz Festival.

If locals choose Blaine, it means others will want to come here as well. More people means economic growth. Private-sector local businesses need strong support and growth to succeed, as is evident in new businesses such as Edaleen Dairy, Drayton Harbor Oyster Company, the wine bar (to open soon) and others.

Expanding the reasons for locals and businesses to come to Blaine is the basis of the Strategic Economic Initiative. We have developed many project scenarios to help guide what the next projects will be to keep growing the momentum of people choosing Blaine first. A complacent attitude will not do it.

Many people have said to me, “Blaine is such a beautiful place, why hasn’t it grown?” The answer is simple: locals and visitors choose to go somewhere else for their wants and needs. The solution is more difficult, but possible: People need more reasons to choose Blaine.

It is critical that locals understand the city of Blaine competes with other small cities, Whatcom County and the Lummi Nation in economic growth and development. These entities are building beautiful facilities, sponsoring events and reaching out to keep their locals shopping locally and to attract visitors, particularly Canadians who are a very important part of our community and economic engine. To be competitive, Blaine needs to keep stepping up and needs your support.

The SEI survey is online now until September 8 at cityofblaine.com, and informs community leaders about the priority projects voters will support for the next several years.

What are your priorities? With this information, the city will move forward with projects and programs to keep the momentum moving forward.  Please take time this week to fill out the survey.

  1. I lived on the Blaine Road for 6 1/2 years until 1989. Blaine didn’t grow because the locals didn’t want it too, including City Counsel. At one time many of us tried to drum up enthusiasm for new people and new things. It was met with resistance. Business chains were denied permits to build and eventually gave up. The schools suffered and so has the community. I am thrilled to see Blaine finally ready to move forward and leave the past behind.

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  2. If Blaine wants economic development, landlords need to start charging what the market will bear for storefront rent. Not thousands of dollars beyond it.

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