USDA grant to nurture Whatcom County startups

The Bellingham Business Journal

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the Northwest Economic Council (NWEC) with a $99,000 grant to promote the success of innovative startup businesses in Whatcom County. The NWEC, through its Innovation Resource Center, intends to create a more robust and growth-oriented economic environment.

“This is a long-awaited and significant first step in growing and nurturing early stage and startup companies in our community,” said Bruce MacCormack, NWEC council chairman.

Recent studies from the Kauffman Foundation indicate that two-thirds of new jobs are being created through small, young businesses. While Whatcom County is rich with educational institutions and organizations providing services to businesses, it is often difficult for individual startup businesses to access them, according to an NWEC press release.

“The Innovation Resource Center will be the ‘magic glue’ to facilitate opportunities for entrepreneurs to grow and benefit from education, government, service organizations and business mentors who will be part of this exciting initiative,” MacCormack said.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said innovative business entrepreneurs can face significant hurdles, especially if they’ve never owned a business before and that the USDA grant would support training on available resources and basic business skills for Northwest Washington entrepreneurs.

“As we continue rebuilding our economy, it is critical we do everything possible to help new businesses develop and flourish,” Cantwell said.

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