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WatchSonoma Watch

Sonoma County’s economy passing up much of nation

By CATHY BUSSEWITZ
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County’s economy is growing while the rest of the nation is just plodding along, an economic expert said Friday.

Job growth in Sonoma County is outpacing the rest of the United States, said Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist at UCLA Anderson School of Management. For the 12-month period ending in November, employment grew 2.1 percent in Sonoma County, compared to around 1.6 percent nationwide, he said.

Sonoma County sealAnd the U.S. is muddling through with 1 to 3 percent growth in GDP, he said. The predicted 3 percent growth rate in national GDP is not exactly stellar, Nickelsburg said.

“That progress is good, but it’s not so good that we want to put our party hats on yet,” he said. “The good news in the U.S. economy is very geographically dependent, so you can feel quite fortunate to be here in Sonoma.”

Nickelsburg addressed several hundred business and policy leaders from Sonoma County at the 2013 State of the County forum in Rohnert Park.

The county’s success is due in part to its ability to adapt to a changing world, where skilled laborers are being replaced by machines and technical skills are becoming paramount, he said.

“You all have been much more nimble in making this transformation,” Nickelsburg said. “You’re becoming a much more entrepreneurial county.”

The Sonoma County Economic Development Board successfully lured several companies to locate within the county last year. Together, those new companies created about 70 new jobs, said Ben Stone, executive director of the Economic Development Board.

“The fact that we’ve become part of the knowledge economy gives us buoyancy going forward,” Stone said. “We’ve become part of that innovation economy.”

Among the new companies are Petaluma-based World Centric, which sells compostable containers and products, and Santa Rosa-based Applied Chemical Laboratories, which relocated from Silicon Valley and makes epoxies and sealers. The City of Petaluma and Sonoma County BEST also were a part of bringing World Centric to the county.

Executives at Applied Chemical had been concerned that it would take a long time to get county approval and permits, but the Economic Development Board helped speed the process, Stone said.

“If we can remove the obstacles and facilitate a smooth entry, that’s good,” Stone said.

Stone also said that Sonoma County ranks higher than comparable counties in creating an innovative environment. Business costs in Sonoma County are 7 percent lower than the national average, he said.

The Economic Development Board also showed a video highlighting the strides Sonoma County made in the past year. It featured shots of the Graton Resort & Casino, the Barlow in Sebastopol, where tasting rooms and artisanal shops are opening, and the abundant microbreweries and vineyards.

“Sonoma County didn’t just survive this recession,” Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire. “We’re coming out stronger, more nimble … and ready to innovate and grow our local economy.”





5 Responses to “Sonoma County’s economy passing up much of nation”

  1. R.B. Fish says:

    “70 NEW JOBS” and the executive director calls that an “innovative economy” and McGuire says we’re “more nimble.”

    SOCO is doing SOSO because of the wine industry, tourism and the weather. Wine growers are doing OK because the politicans and liberal left are giving them cheap labor with the taxpayers picking up the tab.

    Small tech firms would probably more here because the quality of life is so much higher than down south. However, the cost of doing business is so costly and burdensome with the all the permits, politics and fees process they may just where they are or move to a business friendly location.

    Stop trying to squezze the last dime out of businesses just to keep union public employees working. Building fees, development fees and other environmental fees are mostly used to contribute to retirement costs and sadly for work that doesn’t need to be performed.

  2. Robert James says:

    What their talking about is they have more Illegal’s working in Sonoma County and that’s not just Farm worker’s. Because of them not a livable wage and worker’s here have to compete with them for Housing and job’s they then count them as part of our legal work Force. Traitor’s need to be in jail

  3. Francis says:

    Are you going to believe the PD or your lying eyes?

  4. Originalist says:

    The old saying figures don’t lie but liars figure is clearly reflected in the propaganda.
    Why no mention of the numerous firms that went belly up and lost jobs as a result. And what is the average wage in the county? How does that compare to say Nassau or Suffolk county both suburbs of a city?
    The point is the figures cited don’t reflect the truth!

  5. James Bennett says:

    Propagandizing us ’till the very end.