The city of Blaine is ready to grow. Now all they have to do is find the best way to do it.
At the March 11 city council meeting, council authorized city manager Gary Tomsic to sign off on an economic development study agreement with Bellevue-based Hebert Research.
Tomsic said that Jim Hebert of Hebert Research will be studying the city to identify potential businesses that will mesh well with the community and then advise on how to best market to those businesses. “We’re putting together a committee that will work with him and that will hopefully begin implementing the suggestions he has for us,” Tomsic said. “He’ll start doing the research he does and then meet with us to let us know what might be useful for us and the community.”
Tomsic said he feels that the best approach to helping improve the economic situation of Blaine will to be to steer the focus away from downtown and instead look at other businesses and industries that create jobs. “I think downtown is great,” Tomsic said. “But what we really need is more job creation, which will in turn bring more people into the area. We have to generate a consumer base that can keep our small businesses going.”
The project will cost $30,000 and will be funded in equal parts by the Port of Bellingham and Blaine’s Rural Economic Development (RED) funds.
Hebert was selected for the project based on his work with the Port of Bellingham and personal connections to the city. “We’ve seen what he has done with other projects and he has a direct relationship with someone who actually owns industrial land in our community,” Tomsic said.
Tomsic said that bringing Hebert into the mix was important for the city. “I think we have a lot of people in the community who are interested in trying to attract businesses and create jobs,” he said. “What we lack right now is a focus and a direction. Hopefully this effort will result in bringing this group of people together and pointing them in the right direction so that we can go to work.”