Two local agencies will join forces at the beginning of the year and continue their work in economic development and regional transportation planning.
On Wednesday, Dec. 12, the Whatcom Council of Governments accepted a request from the Northwest Economic Council to merge as of Jan. 1, 2013. The agencies will keep their names, with the economic council moving into WCOG's offices at 314 E. Champion St., Bellingham.
The Northwest Economic Council was established to bring the private, public and nonprofit sectors together to grow the county's economy. The Council of Governments - a group of Whatcom County elected officials that addresses issues that impact multiple communities - focuses on regional transportation.
According to a news release, one reason for WCOG's decision to absorb the economic council was influenced in part by its earlier decision to assume responsibility for updating the county's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. The strategy has not been thoroughly updated since it was adopted a decade ago.
The merger also means more potential input from the private sector on transportation planning, said Bob Wilson, executive director of WCOG.
The merger continues what has been a year of change for local economic development and planning agencies. Earlier this year, Western Washington University announced that it was closing its Center of Economic Vitality and expanding its Small Business Development Center.
Also earlier this year, Whatcom Business Alliance - a privately funded group with the goal of improving the local business climate - was formed.
Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at email@example.com or call 715-2269. Visit his business blog online at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or get updates on Twitter at twitter.com/BhamHeraldBiz.