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Acknowledgements& Approach

Strategic Plan

Strategic Sonoma would not have been possible without the support of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the hard work of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board staff, including:

Ben Stone, Executive Director
Al Lerma, Director of Business Development & Innovation
Ethan Brown, Program Manager, Business Retention & Expansion
Jack Percival, Project Coordinator, Strategic Initiatives

Funding for Strategic Sonoma and critical input also came from the Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board, Santa Rosa Junior College, and the Morgan Family Foundation.

The EDB staff and consulting team would like to thank:

  • Jerry Miller, Senior Dean, Career & Technical Education and Economic Development, Santa Rosa Junior College
  • Katie Greaves, Director, Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board

And special thanks to members of the Strategic Sonoma Advisory Group, who have given their time and expertise to provide guidance for the strategy. The Advisory Group includes: 

  • Brett Martinez (Strategic Sonoma Co-Chair), Redwood Credit Union
  • Pam Chanter (Strategic Sonoma Co-Chair), Vantreo Insurance
  • Bill Angeloni, Tenzing Consulting
  • Blair Kellison, Traditional Medicinals
  • Brian Elliot, Fire & Emergency Services Consulting
  • Brian Ling, Sonoma County Alliance
  • Chris Denny, The Engine is Red
  • Chris Snyder, Operating Engineers #3
  • Cindy Gillespie, Amy’s Kitchen
  • Craig Nelson, Nelson Staffing
  • Cynthia Murray, North Bay Leadership Council
  • David Guhin, City of Santa Rosa
  • Doug Hilberman, AXIA Architects
  • Frank Chong, Santa Rosa Junior College
  • Herman G. Hernandez, Youth Connections – Community Action Partnership
  • Jennifer Edwards, The Passdoor
  • John Burns, Sonoma Media Investments
  • Judy Coffey, Kaiser Permanente
  • Karissa Kruse, Sonoma County Winegrowers
  • Kathy Goodacre, CTE Foundation
  • Larry Florin, Burbank Housing
  • Lisa Wittke Schaffner, John Jordan Foundation
  • Margaret VanVliet, Community Development Commission
  • Mia Bowler, Friedemann Goldberg LLP
  • Oscar Chavez, County of Sonoma – Human Services
  • Patricia Shults, Sonoma Valley Chamber
  • Patrick Harper, Keysight Technologies
  • Percey Brandon, Vintners Inn
  • Rick Toyota, The Family Coppola
  • Suzanne Smith, Sonoma County Transportation Authority
  • Tom Scott, Oliver’s Markets

About Avalanche Consulting

Avalanche is the nation’s premier economic development strategic planning firm. Avalanche is deeply driven to make a positive impact and seek clients who are equally inspired to energize their economies. Established in 2005, Avalanche and its team have assisted more than 200 communities across the US and abroad. Led by economic development strategist Amy Holloway, Avalanche guides client partners through economic analyses and development strategies—small towns and major metros, entire states, chambers of commerce, community foundations, and regional economic development corporations.

We believe that modern economic development must be holistic, inclusive of every opportunity to make your community a more prosperous place for all residents and businesses. Traditional job attraction strategies cannot be the only area of focus for economic developers today, especially when topics of affordability, social equity, and mobility are top of mind.

Vvalanche’s support of Strategic Sonoma was led by President Amy Holloway and Vice President Tony DeLisi.

Amy Holloway, President – Amy Holloway is the energetic leader of Avalanche Consulting, Inc., one of the nation’s leading economic development strategy firms. Avalanche provides targeted economic development plans, custom research, workforce analyses, and communications platforms for the most dynamic communities in the country. In her 23 years of experience as a consultant, Amy has authored strategies for more than 100 communities across the US and abroad, including the Atlanta Regional Commission, Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Charlotte Regional Partnership and Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Columbus 2020, Greater Houston Partnership, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, JAXUSA Partnership, Miami-Dade County’s Beacon Council, and Provo City Utah, just to name a few. Amy received BBA and MS degrees in Environmental Economics from Baylor University.

Tony DeLisi, Vice President – Tony DeLisi is Avalanche Consulting’s Vice Presidents, where he focuses on workforce and economic development strategies, project management, research, and client support. He is passionate about helping communities build on their competitive strengths to address challenges, inspire innovation, and grow in an inclusive manner. Most recently, he led a workforce strategic for Troup County, GA and comprehensive economic development strategies for Amarillo, TX; Pflugerville, TX; Frisco, TX; and Paducah, KY. He also completed target industry studies for Georgetown, TX and Sandoval County, NM. Tony received a BS in Earth Systems with a focus on Land Management from Stanford University and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Before his economic development career, Tony worked on energy infrastructure planning and permitting in California. 

Holistic Approach

holistic approach

To be effective, communities
must think holistically about
the interconnectivity
among issues.

The practice of economic development continuously evolves along with the overall economy and the needs of communities. Communities must increasingly address more issues with fewer resources. For many communities today, pressing topics include affordability, equity, infrastructure, technology adoption, environmental change, and education. Their broad implications on the economy mean that these interconnected issues are increasingly part of economic development conversations, and subsequently part of economic development strategy.

trategic Sonoma is an economic development strategy for Sonoma County, but it does not separate itself from these diverse issues. Instead, Strategic Sonoma examines Sonoma County from numerous angles – shining a light on the most pressing issues, assets, and stories and how they influence each other. The Competitive

Assessment and Target Cluster Analysis reports draw from extensive data analysis and stakeholder input to understand these dynamics.

On the surface, Sonoma County is a naturally beautiful, thriving region, but success brings challenges. Affordability, education gaps, equity concerns infrastructure, and other issues present distinct challenges for residents, businesses, and the long-term resiliency of the economy.

ddressing these issues will also require a holistic approach. Although initiated by the Sonoma County EDB, Santa Rosa Junior College, and the Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board, this Action Plan is for the entire community to implement – public sector, private businesses, educators, community-based organizations, and residents.