Sonoma County BEST

(Building Economic Success Together)

BEST is a program designed to provide businesses with the information, resources and assistance needed to grow and succeed. Devoted to inspiring job growth in Sonoma County, BEST focuses on promoting business retention and expansion, attracting new business, and supporting innovation and entrepreneurship within the region.

History

In response to the challenges of the recession, the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce began work on a campaign to help improve the region’s economy through business growth and job creation. With the financial and in-kind support of more than 75 private investors, as well as public funds form the County of Sonoma and some of its cities, Sonoma County BEST began implementation in 2012 with the purpose of assisting companies to create over 2,570 direct and 4,100 total jobs (direct and indirect) by the end of 2016. In its first two years, BEST has worked with over 300 businesses and helped companies create over 1,600 jobs.

Goals

To help companies grow 2,570 direct jobs within BEST’s first five years of implementation through business retention, expansion, and attraction within the region.

Strategic Plan

BEST focuses its work on industry clusters that leverage the positive attributes of Sonoma County and represent the best opportunity to create high-value jobs for our region. Targeted clusters include food manufacturing, specialty foods, tech and advanced manufacturing, health care and wellness, and professional services.

Economic Development

(Is a Team Sport)

BEST collaborates with local and county government and their agencies, business and education to coordinate all available resources for business expansion, retention, and attraction.

Our Progress

5 Year Goal

100%
3214
Jobs BEST helped create
462
Companies Assisted
75
Companies Involved in BEST Industry Groups

Frequently Asked Questions

How is BEST funded?

BEST is a public-private partnership with the financial support of more than 50 private investors, as well as public funds from the County of Sonoma and some of its cities. See the investors page.

What are the benefits of investing in BEST?

Investing in Sonoma County BEST means investing in the economic success of the business community and the growth of high quality jobs in Sonoma County. BEST is helping to strategically plan and strengthen Sonoma County to grow as a diverse and vibrant economy.

How was BEST formed?

In response to the challenges of the recession, the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce began work on a campaign to help improve the region’s economy through business growth and job creation. With the financial and in-kind support of more than 50 private investors, as well as public funds from the County of Sonoma and some of its cities, Sonoma County BEST began in 2012 and continues to be a branch of the Chamber with a separate non-profit 501(c)(3) status. Initial funding was raised to sustain BEST’s in a 5-year plan. As BEST continues to perform above expectations, the SR Chamber, BEST investors, and the business community agree that the program is making a positive impact on the community and that it should continuing past the initial 5-year plan.

How many jobs has BEST helped create?

Between January of 2012 – to January 2015, BEST has helped businesses create 2,594 jobs, or 63% of our 5-year goal of 4,100 jobs.

Does BEST plan to continue at the end of the original 5-year plan after 2016?

Yes, BEST is in the process of planning “BEST 2.0”.  This plan includes a more focused approach that allows BEST to continue in the processes which brought the largest positive impact on the regional economy. The business retention and expansion (BRE) methodology and programs like the Food Industry Group and Tech Industry Group will continue to grow as they have proven to be very valuable in the growth of local businesses and job creation.

How does BEST count job growth?

BEST began implantation in 2012 with the purpose of assisting companies to create over 2,570 direct and 4,100 total FTE jobs (direct + indirect* jobs) by the end of 2016.  BEST defines a job as a position created and filled by a company after BEST has met with them, identified one or more requests for assistance, and resolved one or more of these requests.

*Note: An indirect job is a term used to describe additional jobs subsequently formed or filled by the creation of a direct job. A standard average among economic development organizations is the .6 multiplier. This means that for every 1 direct job created, there are another .6 additional jobs being created.

What industries does BEST focus on?

For the greatest impact on the local economy, BEST is focused on helping specific industries that are major economic drivers and employers in Sonoma County. Our strategic efforts concentrate on the food, tech, and advanced manufacturing, professional services, and health services.

Does BEST assist the Wine and Tourism industries?

Wine and tourism are major contributors to the regional economy and workforce, but already have a significant amount of support through organizations like the Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB), Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, and many others.  As not to duplicate efforts, and to serve growing industries that generally do not get as much assistance from other organizations, BEST focuses job creation efforts on the manufacturing, professional services, and health services industries.

How do I get involved in the Food Industry Group (FIG)?

The Sonoma County BEST Food Industry Group (FIG) consists of Sonoma County specialty food producers and food manufacturers, educational institutions, and investors. The FIG also has four subcommittees that meet monthly to discuss specific issues: HR, Marketing, QA, and Growth (support for small growing food companies). Members are invited to come to all meetings. At this time, there are no membership dues for the FIG.  For more information about the FIG, contact BEST through the contact page.

To learn more about the FIG and the companies involved, click here to visit the Food Industry Group page.

What is the Tech Industry Group and how do I get involved?

The Sonoma County BEST Tech Industry Group (TIG) consists of large tech and advanced manufacturers within Sonoma County, educational institutions, and investors.  The TIG currently has three subcommittees: HR, Supply Chain, and QA.  At this time, there are no membership dues for the TIG.

To learn more about the TIG and the companies involved, click here to visit the Tech Industry Group page.

Does BEST help startups?

Yes, entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses make up the largest percentage of employers. They are also the most vulnerable when times get tough. BEST supports new and small businesses by helping connect them to local resources that offer funding, mentorship, workshops, and other types of opportunities. Through the industry groups, BEST has the unique capability to leverage the resources of large companies to help smaller ones.

Is BEST involved in the local education system?

Yes, BEST works strategically with K-12 and higher education, including organizations like SCOE (Sonoma County Office of Education), Career Pathways, Mike Hauser Algebra Academy, and the Career Technical Education (CTE) Program to help build a more skilled and educated workforce.  BEST helps to strengthen the career pathway by advocating for the workforce needs of local business and by bridging the gap between educational institutions and local employers. Our goal is to make sure that education reflects the needs of the local economy and future trends so that students can enter careers in Sonoma County after college.

"We have been considering new locations throughout the North Bay, but because of the BEST FIG, our company is very confident that growing our company in Sonoma County is the right thing to do for our company."

− Bob McGee, Straus Family Creamery

"I just wanted to take a moment to thank you, and the Sonoma County BEST organization, for the help and support you have given me and my start-up food company, Smash Foods. You didn’t hesitate to set up an appointment and even brought along a seasoned businessman to sit in. He even offered to help me write a business plan. "

− Jennifer Hedgpeth, Smash Foods

"Sonoma County BEST helped World Centric connect with both people and organizations who were able to assist us at different levels of our decision-making process about moving to Sonoma County. They have continued to work with us after the move to ensure that our needs are being met and that we are accessing the right resources within the county. It is wonderful to have their help and support!"

− Aseem Das, World Centric