Business Development Team

  • Business-Development-Team-Staff-Photo

At your service. Our Business Development Team offers you a broad range of skills. We are here to answer your questions and get you connected to what you need to grow your business.

Ethan Brown

Staff - Ethan BrownBusiness Hotline Program Manager

(707) 565-7589

ethan.brown@sonoma-county.org

Ethan oversess the EDB Business Hotline, which helps businesses find the resources and connections that they need to start up and succeed in Sonoma County. He assists entrepreneurs in understanding the regulatory process, reviewing business and marketing plans, locating financing, and navigating the details required to launch. Ethan’s background as a business owner helps him to understand the unique challenges involved in self-employment and business development, and he enjoys his role in enabling new entrepreneurs every day. His role at the EDB also includes managing special projects, such as the 2014 NExT Economy Project, and the 2016 Year of the Entrepreneur.

Ethan received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Sonoma State University. Prior to joining the EDB, he was a partner in a local construction firm, where he gained a firsthand perspective of business ownership and a passion for helping other entrepreneurs. 

Al Lerma

Al LermaDirector of Business Development & Innovation

(707) 565-6428

albert.lerma@sonoma-county.org

Al works on connecting entrepreneurs with access to capital to start, grow and expand their business. Whether it’s a microloan to expand their inventory or bond financing to help growing companies or nonprofits to make new capital investments in facilities and equipment, he can help connect you with the resources you need. He manages all agency business operations and works to foster sustainable innovation, business growth and modernization through agency initiatives and partnerships.

Al serves on the Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board and on the Sonoma County Transportation Authority Citizen’s Advisory Committee. He previously worked for the Indiana Department of Commerce, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Community Development and the Sonoma County Community Development Commission. 

Heather LoBue

Staff - Heather LoBueWorkforce Program Manager

(707) 565-6415

heather.lobue@sonoma-county.org

The EDB expanded its Business Assistance Team in 2014 with the addition of Heather LoBue to develop workforce support services. In partnership with the Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board (WIB), LoBue has been instrumental in promoting and connecting businesses to hiring incentives that compensate businesses for training costs creating needed opportunities for employment and business expansion. In addressing increasing skill gaps, LoBue also assists businesses in developing customized workforce trainings and specialized hiring events to recruit and retain quality candidates.

Prior to joining the EDB, Heather worked as the lead Business Representative for the Employment and Training Division of Humboldt County. LoBue looks forward to continuing to enhance local services and resources for Sonoma County businesses.

Christine Palmer

Staff - Christine PalmerBusiness Development Tools Program Manager

(707) 565-7296

christine.palmer@sonoma-county.org

Christine manages the Business Development Tools program, providing customized market research, industry trends and tools to help businesses get to the next level. She also works to support key industry sectors in Sonoma County, including Agriculture and Outdoor Recreation.

Christine received a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of California, Davis and a Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Washington. Prior to joining the EDB, Christine worked for the City of Tacoma, City of Mercer Island, and King County Metro in Washington State.

Tim Ricard

Staff - Tim RicardBusiness Retention and Expansion Program Manager

(707) 565-7257

tim.ricard@sonoma-county.org

Tim leads the Business Retention and Expansion Program, helping local businesses connect with the resources they need to stay and grow in Sonoma County. Tim utilizes his background in economic development and urban planning to help businesses navigate regulatory issues and obtain valuable tax credits and exemptions. Through face to face conversations with business owners, he builds relationships, addresses business challenges, and seeks to identify ways that governmental policies and regulations can best support the business community.

Tim received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Prior to his current position with the EDB, Tim worked for the Cities of Livermore, Arroyo Grande, and San Leandro.

Marcos J. Suarez

Staff - Marcos Suarez Businesses Diversity Program Manager

(707) 565-6402

marcos.suarez@sonoma-county.org

Marcos J. Suarez is the Business Diversity Program Manager at the Sonoma County EDB. In his role, Marcos informs and assists minority and underserved communities across Sonoma County, in order to foster small business entrepreneurship development, job creation, and capacity building. 

Marcos started his role at the EDB in February 2015 and has been working diligently connecting and engaging business owners and emerging entrepreneurs with business planning, workforce development, micro loans, marketing and many other resources and services that are available to Sonoma County businesses through the EDB. 

Prior to joining the EDB, Marcos was the Program Specialist for the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Sonoma County, working closely with small businesses locally and state-wide.

Contact Information

Economic Development Board
Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Contact us by Phone
Address
141 Stony Circle, Suite 110
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
 

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