These are some surprising positives for Whatcom County’s spring economic outlook
Despite inflation, rising interest rates and the lingering impact of COVID-19, business activity in Whatcom County remains in relatively good shape heading into summer.
More people are interested in starting a business, business debt is being paid down while vacancy rates for retail, office and industrial space continue to remain tight, according to several local reports about the first quarter. At the Western Washington University’s Small Business Development Center, advisors dealt with twice as much activity in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the first quarter of 2019, before COVID-19. CJ Seitz, director at the center, said it’s an exciting time for innovation and problem-solving as start-ups and existing businesses try to figure out an economy that recently saw many pandemic restrictions lifted.
That doesn’t mean every business is doing great. Companies involved in industries that were hit particularly hard with pandemic restrictions and lockdowns are still trying to get back on their feet. Eric Grimstead, an advisor at the Western center, said gyms, yoga studios and other indoor exercise facilities had membership levels “drop like a rock.” During the harsher periods of the pandemic restrictions people found other ways to exercise, so it’s been tough getting them back.