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Profile: City of Sumas

Rod Fadden, supervisor of utilities for the City of Sumas, at its $1.1 million ballpark.

Sumas: ‘Open for Business’ Visionary planning—such as heavy-load roads, tax breaks, and streamlined processing—provides a unique model attractive to Canadian markets and other new businesses Article and photos by Steve Hortegas


s Sumas becoming the model for businessfriendly communities in Whatcom County? The little city’s big slogan would suggest as much.

Sumas says it is “Open for Business.” The city has ample land, cheap power, fast-track permitting, and zero impact fees–all with a customer-based focus. Business and civic leaders recently gave Sumas a solid “A” for their opinion of how business-aligned their city is, using words like “user-friendly,” “open” and “welcoming.” 22 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM

Facts and numbers back up the grade. Home construction is up, population has grown, the downtown is revitalizing, and manufacturing is thriving. With a reported 36.7 percent retail sales increase for the first quarter of 2013, Sumas had the greatest year-over-year jump among local communities. Throughout the recession, the city weathered the storm without laying off staff or cutting services. What’s working here that isn’t working elsewhere in Whatcom County? Some life-long Sumas residents and members of the Chamber of Commerce offered frank and experienced takes on business in

Edited by WWU Summer Intern Lydia Love

Sumas in an interview setting for Business Pulse. Their answers were eye-opening. A bit of history helps set the table: Mayor Bob Bromley, a second-generation owner of Bromley’s Market, along with Rod Fadden, the supervisor of utilities for the City of Sumas and owner of a business in town, pointed out how the city’s roots shaped its entrepreneurial, adaptive, and survivalist attitude. Sumas became a major railway hub for the region about 150 years ago: the profile comprised a customs office, sawmills, logging operations, 11 saloons, and 2,000 people. Most of that evaporated

Business Pulse Magazine: Fall 2013  

The Publication of The Whatcom Business Alliance

Business Pulse Magazine: Fall 2013  

The Publication of The Whatcom Business Alliance