SWOT Analysis
Whatcom County, WA

What is a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges) analysis allows organizations and regions to assess critical external and internal factors that influence future economic development. This allows actors to address challenges and take advantage of opportunities. A regional SWOT analysis is required as part of the EDA’s content guidelines for a CEDS report and it is intended to help identify priorities to be addressed in a Strategic Action Plan.

REP at the Port of Bellingham conducted multiple SWOT analyses in partnership with local government staff, elected officials, community members, private sector representatives, and other stakeholders. The results of the SWOT analyses for the County, the seven incorporated cities, and select industries helped guide the identification of regional economic development priorities.

Regional Whatcom County SWOT

SWOT analyses were completed for city, county, and port jurisdictions and industries. Industry SWOTs for fourteen industries were also developed for Whatcom County via stakeholder engagement with local government staff, elected officials, the private sector, such as the Whatcom County Business and Commerce Committee, Team Whatcom members, and other stakeholders. These results were combined for a Regional SWOT analyses. 

Jurisdiction SWOTs

In addition to the County SWOT and the industry SWOTs, each of the seven incorporated cities and the Port of Bellingham completed their own SWOT analyses, found below. The Lummi Nation’s SWOT can be found in their CEDS report.

Click the dots to move through the SWOTs for each jurisdiction.

Industry SWOTs

In total, fourteen industry-level SWOT analyses were completed for Whatcom County: agriculture, commercial and residential real estate, construction, energy, events, healthcare, manufacturing (includes food processing), marine trades, nonprofits, technology, tourism, recreation, and retail. 

Click the dots to move through the SWOTS for each industry.


Drawing on the jurisdictional SWOT analyses, the industry-level SWOT analyses, as well as stakeholder engagement, there are several high priority issues that are currently affecting Whatcom County's ability to grow economically:

Social and economic infrastructure

- Housing availability and affordability

- Childcare availability and affordability

- Labor shortage

- Wages inconsistent with cost of living

Physical infrastructure

- Lack of or insufficient utilities, including electric, sewer, water, broadband

- Substantial wetlands and critical areas with limited wetland mitigation bank credits