Whatcom County ranks No. 2 in US for vitality of independent businesses, in a new report about the vitality of independent retailers in the US. The Bellingham metro area - which includes all of Whatcom County ranked second out of 363 metro areas studied. The top spot went to Ocean City, N.J.; followed by Bellingham, Medford, Ore.; Carson City, Nev.; and San Jose, Calif.
Whatcom County residents have a regularly supported local, independent businesses.
The survey takes metro areas and looked at the amount of sales from major chain stores to determine market saturation. The less chain store saturation, the higher the ranking in the Indie City Index.
Whatcom County's high ranking was surely spurred by the growth of the Sustainable Connections organization and its "Buy "Local" campaigns.
The Indie City Index was released at the Advocates for Independent Retail National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 20. To see the full report, visit IndieCityIndex.com.
Sunset Magazine listed Bellingham among its 2011 "Best Towns" in an article headlined "Places to make you happy" in it's February issue.
"So depending on what makes you smile, here are the ten best places to live (and find happiness) in the wondrous amusement park of the American West," the article says in an introductory passage.
"American West" is defined to include Canada, since the first "town" on the list is Salt Spring Island, B.C. It made the list based on its excellent conditions for vegetable growing.
Every town makes the list for a different reason. Bellingham is characterized as "a seaside haven 90 miles north of Seattle" with 65 miles of multi-use trails within city limits, plus nearby access to mountains and sea.