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BEST Tech Industry Supplier Fair brings manufacturers together

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In early 2014, members of BEST’s Tech Industry Group (TIG) asked for assistance to localize their supply chains by connecting with regional suppliers. BEST saw this as an opportunity to build stronger connections among regional manufacturers and keep the flow of money in the area. “It offered a great opportunity to help several regional manufacturers with a single event,” said Brandon Jewell, Director of Business Development.

The result was the creation of the Tech Industry Supplier Fair. The second annual Supplier Fair, held this past Thursday September 24th in Santa Rosa, brought 10 original equipment manufacturers (OEM) including Altwork, General Dynamics, Keysight Technologies, L-3, Labcon, Medtronic, Reltek LLC, Small Precision Tools, Trivascular and Viavi Solutions (formerly JDSU). Approximately 30 process and component manufacturers attended to meet these OEMs in the hopes of making connections that may lead to future deals.

A survey sent to attendees in 2014 showed that last year’s Supplier Fair helped spur as much $1 million in deals among participating manufacturers. BEST will follow the 2015 event with a similar survey to measure its impact on the local manufacturing sector.

BEST hits job goal early for 2015

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BEST is pleased to announce that only nine months into the year, it has hit the annual goal of helping companies create 533 direct new jobs in Sonoma County, 88% to the five-year goal of 2570 jobs.

“In less than four years, BEST is only 316 jobs away from our five-year goal, and we will definitely exceed that goal,” said Brandon Jewell, Director of Business Development for BEST.

BEST was created to help businesses succeed and grow jobs through connections to resources, programs, and other businesses. BEST counts a job when a business that it has helped adds additional full time employees.

“Throughout the years, we have identified more efficient ways of helping businesses. Our industry groups, for example, have been very successful and we see an incredible amount of engagement from participating companies,” said Jonathan Coe, President of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce.

A majority of the job growth came from the food manufacturing industry, in contrast to the previous year, where most of the jobs were created in the tech manufacturing industry. BEST’s Food Industry Group (FIG) and Tech Industry Group (TIG) are strong drivers to this success.

FIG & TIG Update

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Recently a handful of FIG and TIG members were acknowledged for being outstanding manufacturers in the region by the North Bay Business Journal. Congratulations to Alvarado Street Bakery, Costeaux French Bakery, JDSU, Keysight Technologies, Revive Drinks, Straus Family Creamery, Taylor Maid Farms and Traditional Medicinals. See more:

This month BEST has had very successful FIG/TIG meetings. A workshop on mastering the media and DIY PR gave the group a lot of information on how to be successful working with the press. Last week was an informative Quality Assurance meeting at Cowgirl Creamery where the group toured their production and distribution facilities and discussed saving water during the drought while maintaining the quality of their products. The Growth Committee hosted a financing panel and discussed the numerous ways of financing your business. And finally, the TIG had a meeting at JDSU, where the group learned about the transition of JDSU splitting into two separate entities, Viavi Solutions and Lumentum.

Synergy Health to open in October

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synhealthOn June 25, Synergy Health hosted a facility preview event for the newest expansion set in Petaluma. Visitors toured the 30,000 square foot Electron Beam sterilization site, showcasing architectural plans and construction progress of the sterilization facility coming soon to Northern California. Last year, BEST worked with Petaluma company Labcon and the City of Petaluma to attract Synergy Health to the area.

Based on strong relationships with customers in the Bay Area region, as well as opportunities to develop new relationships in the growing life science market of Northern California, the site will be a permanent addition of sterilization services attracting more device manufacturing to the area.

Opening in October of this year, the Synergy Health Petaluma facility will launch with a single Electron Beam with designed capacity of more than two million cubic feet of capacity. The site is designed to double capacity, based on demand and lead time of an accelerator. We are thus capable, coupled with our San Diego E-Beam facility, of servicing the entire Northern California and West Coast E-Beam sterilization needs. The newest site will have a full team of 10 people in place by October, with goals to expand to over 25 adding shifts as demand dictates.

BEST Progress Update

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As we pass the midpoint of the year, the BEST Board of Directors is happy to report that we have helped Sonoma County businesses create 335 direct jobs so far in 2015 with an estimated annual payroll of nearly $22M. BEST is on track to meet our total job creation goal of 2,570 direct jobs established when BEST was launched, sooner than anticipated.

Specifically, BEST has:

  • Met with more than 450 companies over the past four years and helped them create 2,072 direct jobs by helping to solve the challenges they faced and take advantage of the opportunities they had.
  • Recruited six new companies to Sonoma County that now employ 110 people. These new companies are ones that complement the region’s existing industries and position the region for further job growth.
  • Created both a Food Industry Group and a Technology Industry Group. Each of these is actively pursuing a variety of programs that are helping participating companies and the entire industry grow and add jobs.
  • Organized a suppliers’ fair that has linked local components manufacturers with area end manufacturers to increase the amount of business being done in the community amongst these businesses.
  • Worked with area manufacturers and food producers to recruit talented young employees to the area by attending recruiting fairs at universities like UC Davis, SRJC and Sonoma State.
  • In partnership with TeamCA, BEST hosted the annual Site Selectors Meet the Consultants conference in order to influence corporate relocation decision makers from around the country.

The ongoing health of our area economy depends on efforts like ours, to work directly with area businesses to create jobs, and we are committed to continuing to do so. We are well into the process of finding our new Executive Director and look forward to continued success.

– The Sonoma County BEST Board of Directors

Food and Tech Industry Group Updates

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The Food Industry Group is going strong, with different committee meetings happening every week this year. The four subcommittees; Marketing, Human Resources, Quality Assurance and Growth all meet once a month to discuss specific topics at each meeting which has proved invaluable for member companies.

Last month, BEST offered two booths to a few smaller FIG companies at Showcase Sonoma, the region’s largest business showcase. AddGarlic, Sea of Change, Cookie Take a Bite and Not Yer Mommas Granola sampled products to the hundreds of people in attendance.

Committee Updates:

This year the FIG and TIG have been focused, discussing specific topics at each meeting which has proved invaluable for member companies.

The Quality Assurance committee has taken tours of production facilities, including La Tortilla Factory, Gourmet Mushroom, Guayaki and Taylor Maid Farms, working on topics such as co-packing, third party audits, compliance and more. The HR committee recently discussed the new sick leave law and onboarding practices. Last month’s Marketing Committee discussed how market research drives sales and marketing strategies, and next month will cover media and PR.

The Tech Industry Group has been concentrating on developing a tool for resource sharing, how to track sustainability and the group has recently toured Labcon, Small Precision Tools and EMG Pickups.

Global site consultants shown diverse, collaborative industry of Sonoma County

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03-best-mtc-590Site consultants from firms around the globe were impressed last week with Sonoma County’s diverse industry and commitment to the economy through industry collaboration and the concerted efforts of public and private organizations to help the economy grow.

Sonoma County BEST hosted the Meet the Consultants Forum from March 4 – 6, approximately 80 economic development professionals, developers and realtors attended to acquire insight from six global site selection consultants on the economic forecast, industrial trends, and to build relationships with the consultants.

BEST was not only able to bring this entire event to Sonoma County, but it gave us the opportunity to learn about how to be a competitive region for business attraction. As the host sponsor, BEST and several board members held a reception at Paradise Ridge the evening before the event to welcome in the six consultants.

The day following the event, BEST took the site consultants for a breakfast and tour of Keysight Technologies where Hamish Gray, Senior Vice President, Chief of Staff of Keysight Technologies, explained why Keysight continues to grow and thrive in Sonoma County. The consultants were impressed at hearing the different organizations and businesses that work together for the greater good of the economy and the community.

This three day event gave us the opportunity to really get to know these key players in corporate site selection while showcase Sonoma County in a very memorable way.

Read more at the North Bay Business Journal

Kombucha producer Revive and Rustic Bakery will both expand to Petaluma

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Former Barbara’s Bakery building to be re-purposed for two tenants

Sean Lovett of Revive Kombucha and Claire LeValley of Rustic Bakery.

Sean Lovett of Revive Kombucha and Claire LeValley of Rustic Bakery.

Petaluma, CA November 21, 2014 — Food and beverage producers are growing in Sonoma County, most recently with the addition of a new facility for nine year old Marin based Rustic Bakery which will support wholesale packaged goods, and Revive Kombucha’s overdue expansion from Windsor. Rustic will be consolidating its wholesale baking from its existing café’s in Marin where demand for their retail products has patrons regularly lining up out their doors. Their new 20,000 square foot facility will be much more efficient than baking in their current cafes, where they have been operating at capacity. Four year old Revive is expanding from a very cramped facility in Windsor to approximately 30,000 square feet. Both decided independently that Petaluma was the ideal location for their respective companies because of the unique brand appeal “Made in Sonoma County” appeals to consumers, as well as the specialized food and beverage production amenities the former Barbara’s Bakery building offers.

The approximate 50,000 square foot building was purchased vacant in 2013 by a group of local investors led by Scott Schadlich and Brian Muller, who own other commercial properties in the North Bay. “We had other opportunities to lease this building to distribution and warehouse users, but we stuck to our plan and waited for food or beverage producers who would value the floor drains and other attributes in the building,” stated Schadlich. Muller added, “Putting a bakery back into the building was a “no-brainer”. And Revive sees real benefits of not only the existing cold rooms, but also the office areas.”

Revive was founded in 2010 by Sean J. Lovett, who has grown his company exponentially in the nascent kombucha beverage segment to quickly become one of the top producers in the country. The triple combination of expanded and automated production capability, new distribution partners, and an expanding product line will help supply increasing demand for the popular craft brewed & fermented probiotic beverage. One of Revive’s unique market differentiators is its commitment to sustainable packaging and production practices such as the bottle exchange program, where they created a distribution network for reusing their bottles. Impressively over 75% of its bottles are returned annually. Revive has foregone significant sales this year due to limited space for production expansion. They currently work out of nine incubator units, forklifting throughout the business parking lot, so there are a lot of efficiencies to gain from consolidating under one roof. “We are grateful to have found such an awesome building and property owners who support our vision for growth and sustainable business initiatives. It’s a blessing to have landed in Petaluma, which provides us access to a dynamic community of sustainably oriented businesses, schools and nonprofits,” said Lovett. Clay Stephens of Warren Capital, and Sonoma County BEST assisted Revive with working capital for their expansion. Revive will bring 20 jobs to the new Petaluma location and they also plan to hire 20 more employees over the next year.

Rustic Bakery was founded by the wife and husband team of Carol LeValley and Josh Harris, who got their start after seeing Petaluma based Cowgirl Creamery’s beautiful artisan cheeses being served at the Ferry Building in San Francisco with mass produced crackers. With encouragement from Cowgirl founders Peggy Smith and Sue Conley, Rustic leased a former café in Larkspur. Their original plan was to bake only wholesale crackers, but the retail café was already established providing a needed revenue source, and other café opportunities came one after another in the ensuing years. Rustic is very excited to execute their original wholesale baking business plan in Petaluma, as there are many retailers they haven’t been able to supply due to constraints in their existing operations. “It will be nice to be located down the street from Cowgirl,” added LeValley with a smile, who maintains close ties with Smith and Conley.

Petaluma staff have thus far worked proactively with both Revive and Rustic on permitting issues. “Petaluma’s staff went above and beyond to help us answer preliminary questions before finalizing our plans,” said Lovett. Levalley added, “Without the timely assistance from staff, our decisions to proceed with this facility in Petaluma would have been more difficult and taken more time.”

Petaluma’s Economic Development Program has focused on the growth and development of natural and specialty food products. A study recently completed by the City found that Petaluma’s food processing businesses have a $1.3 billion economic impact on the regional economy every year through direct employment, as well as processing locally sourced raw materials.

“Revive and Rustic Bakery embody the kind of companies Petaluma envisioned attracting when it completed its Economic Development Strategy in late 2010,” explained Ingrid Alverde, Petaluma’s Economic Development Manager and Sonoma County BEST Board Member. “They are both manufacturing companies focused on high quality products, utilizing local labor, and sustainable business practices. Then occupying a formerly vacant building without having to build new a new facility is a win-win-win for everyone.” For further information, please contact Ingrid Alverde, City of Petaluma Economic Development Manager, at (707) 778-4549 or

Sonoma County BEST receives $100,000 from Sonoma County Board of Supervisors

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SANTA ROSA, CA: The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an additional $100,000 investment in Sonoma County BEST for fiscal year 2014-2015 and an extension of the term of the MOU between the County, the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce and Sonoma County BEST.

“Economic development is important not just in bad times, but also in good, and by investing in BEST, the EDB and the County are working to attract businesses and build a diverse economy,” said Supervisor David Rabbitt, and Chair of the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who also sits on the Board of Directors of Sonoma County BEST, reviewed the recent accomplishments of BEST which include being at 128% of its 2014 goal of creating 478 jobs. “BEST has assisted businesses in adding 2,586 total jobs to Sonoma County since 2012 and is at 62.9% of its five year goal of 4,100 total jobs,” said Ms. Zane. Supervisor Zane was an enthusiastic supporter of the founding of BEST and worked on the initial campaign committee to establish funding of the economic development initiative.

In 2011, the Board approved a resolution entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the County and the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, to support the BEST Program, for a term of three years, and providing $100,000 for each year of the term. In consideration for the County funding, two seats on the BEST Board of Directors were allocated to be filled by the Board of Supervisors. Currently, Supervisor David Rabbitt and Supervisor Shirlee Zane sit on the BEST Board of Directors.

“The County’s investment in the BEST Program demonstrates support and investment in jobs, workforce growth, and business attraction and encourages a diverse community economic base” said Carolyn Stark, Executive Director, Sonoma County BEST.