The Economic Development Investment (EDI) Program was developed by the past Whatcom County Executive, Pete Kremen, and his staff. The Washington State Legislature in 1997 authorized rural counties, like Whatcom County, to retain a portion of the sales tax collected to finance public facilities. The goal of the legislation is to improve the economy of rural counties. To achieve this, the Executive and his staff, following County Council approval, implemented a countywide program that would allow local governments to utilize funds to help build needed facilities that would enable economic development opportunities.
To help accomplish the goal of improving the economy of Whatcom County, the EDI Program will provide financing for "public facilities" through very low interest loans, grants, or a combination of both. The applicant for the financing must be a public entity or local government. Normally local governments include the county, cities, port, Planned Unit Development, water and sewer, and other districts. Private firms cannot apply for funding directly. However, the private sector is a critical part of this process.
The EDI Program can assist private sector businesses by making grants and low interest loans to Whatcom County public agencies and political subdivisions. A goal of the program is to assist in financing public facilities that are required by business in order to create or retain jobs. The EDI program is intended to finance public facilities that will stimulate private investment and will facilitate the expansion, retention or attraction of businesses and increase employment opportunities in Whatcom County.