Economic Development Corporation
A Business Overview
CLALLAM BUSINESS OVERVIEW
Clallam's Economic Outlook Today
The year 2015 holds economic promise for the county with a number of projects under way that will support growth. Infrastructure improvement projects are employing residents and injecting important funds into the local economy. The Elwha River dam removal project began in 2011 with the goal of removing the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams. Now completed, the river, which supports major salmon runs, flows unimpeded for the first time in a century.
Around 1851, the first white settlers staked their claims in the area. Clallam County was created in 1854 from bordering Jefferson County. The county’s name is derived from the Klallam or S’Klallam people who continue to play a significant role in the county. In 1890, Port Angeles was named the county seat. Sequim and Forks are the other two incorporated cities in the county.
Logging was the primary industry, and benefitted greatly when railroads made it possible to reach further and further into the great conifer stands. Hydroelectric power from the Elwha River dam spurred the first large sawmill in the area. The “Big Mill” was the largest employer in the county for the next 25 years. World War I fueled the need for spruce, which was vital to building the first airplanes. In the 1920s, pulp production took off in Port Angeles, supplying the nation's growing need for newsprint and cellulose.
After World War II, growth continued in timber and agriculture. Commercial and sport fishing activities became increasingly important. In the 1960s, Clallam County tribes reclaimed
traditions and reasserted tribal rights to shares of the fish harvests. The Jamestown S’Klallam tribe won federal recognition in 1981, and received trust land at Blyn on Sequim Bay, which now houses a tribal center and casino.
The service sector has been experiencing growth over the past decades. The county houses two prisons, a hospital and school district, which are top employers. Forks became a tourism craze when the Twilight movies put it on the map.
Other new industries have moved into the county in the past decade. Advanced composites manufacturing has been established in and around the Port Angeles area, providing manufactured parts to the aerospace and marine industries.
Over the past 20 years, the economy in Clallam County has experienced slow but steady growth. This economic growth has been shaped by a vibrant port district in the county’s major coastal city of Port Angeles. New migration is also on the rise as many retirees are attracted to Sequim’s “sunbelt” climate.
Clallam County is full of natural wonders. Many tourists and locals visit the vast Olympic National Park which attracted over 3 million visitors in 2014. The region’s 200 miles of coastline have fostered the maritime and fishing industries. Traditionally, much of the economy in the county has reflected this natural abundance, with jobs in forestry, wood products and fisheries. As opportunity and demand for these industries have declined in the county, new positions in leisure, tourism and emerging technologies have grown in their place. The labor market continues to develop, benefiting from the region’s many resources.
Science and academic institutions in the county continue to research important topics and educate the next generation of the labor force. The Department of Energy’s Marine Sciences Laboratory is based at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim. Current projects at the lab include ocean energy development, impact of populations on marine environments and improved coastline security. The hope is to find a vibrant opportunity for growth in the areas of marine conservation and aquaculture.
A state of the art institution offering programs in fields of business, healthcare and the trades. Current enrollment is approximately 5,169 full-time and part-time students.