Economic Development Week

2022 economic development week. Celebrating economic development in Sonoma County. Artwork with fisherman, parachute, tress, cyclist, truck, farm, airplane, and housing.

En Español

May 9th through 13th, 2022, the Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB) invites you to celebrate National Economic Development Week. Economic Development Week was created by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2016 to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities, and improve the quality of life in every community. Sonoma County residents and businesses are immersed everyday in economic development activities such as patronizing a local business, learning new skills, planning for disasters, enjoying local recreation, and more. On this page, learn about economic development and what it looks like in Sonoma County.

    Economic Development Projects in Sonoma County

    CAL FIRE Los Guilicos Fire Base

    firefight holding walkie talkie in front of fire engine

    Wildfires are detrimental to quality of life and can cause significant loss of income for households and business small and big (Read full economic impact reports at sonomaedb.org/data-center/special-reports). As a result of damage caused by wildfires in recent years, Sonoma County continues to work tirelessly to improve response and resiliency against devastating wildfires. Efforts include formation of the Department of Emergency Management, coordinated alert systems, business preparedness and services, and more. Recently, the County of Sonoma took another important step toward wildfire resiliency.

    On Feb. 8, 2022, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors authorized a three-year lease with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to occupy the Los Guilicos Campus in East Santa Rosa to be used as a year-round fire base. Firefighting teams are anticipated to be stationed at the base during the 9-month fire season and a fuel abatement team will occupy the space for the remaining three months. The installation of CAL FIRE’s base is expected to further improve emergency response times, increase access to critical resources, and provide needed mitigation to make Sonoma County better prepared and more resilient.

    This important step toward wildfire resiliency improves economic development in the following ways:

    • Prevents further loss of critically needed housing for our community and workforce
    • Limits disruptions to small business and economic activity
    • Improves overall quality of life and peace of mind in Sonoma County, important in maintaining a diverse workforce

    Helen Putnam Regional Park Improvements

    public park with rolling hills, tress, and blue skies. Hikers on trail in background.

    One of the best rewards of living in Sonoma County is the abundance of access to the outdoors. Sonoma County is home to more than 50 regional county parks, from rocky coastlines to rolling hills blooming with wildflowers. To ensure equitable access, improvements and maintenance are always underway.

    One such regional park that recently underwent improvements was Helen Putnam Regional Park in Petaluma. Improvements included wildflower and oak regeneration, enhancing trailhead access and parking areas, natural resource management to mitigate wildfires, and way-finding and interpretive signage. Construction of these projects was completed thanks to hours of volunteer labor and community workdays coordinated by the Sonoma County Trails Council, in addition to contracted work, and assistance with crews from Conservation Corps North Bay, a nonprofit dedicated to providing training and skills for youth while serving the environment.

    Improvements to Helen Putnam Regional Park fosters economic development in the following ways:

    • Improves quality of life which helps in workforce attraction and retention
    • Fosters more opportunities for the growing outdoor recreation industry
    • Supports the training and economic advancement for young adults working in environmental conservation
    • Maintains vegetation to mitigate wildfire danger, which prevents economic and community disruptions.

    Learn more about what is new at Helen Putman Regional Park

    Mitote Food Park and Tierra de Rosas

    map of tierra de rosas

    One can find a great deal of transformation and economic development in action at 665 Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa, the current site of Mitote Food Park and future location of Tierra de Rosas. Mitote Food Park offers locally crafted food from small vendors, celebrations of Latino heritage and culture, and a place for the community to gather. In its first year of operation, it has hosted several community events and offered a variety of economic opportunities for small vendors.

    Mitote will continue to serve as a community hub throughout the construction of Tierra de Rosas. The 7.5 acre development will include a community center, library, food market, 1 acre park, and affordable and market rate housing, something critically needed in Roseland to retain community and part of our workforce.

    Mitote and Tierra de Rosas support economic development in the following ways:

    • Provides economic opportunities and space to Latino and Latinx entrepreneurs, a growing sector nation wide
    • Strengthens community with celebrations of heritage and gatherings, which increase quality of life
    • Provides much needed housing for families and local workforce.

    Learn more about Tierra de Rosas.

    Sonoma County Airport Expansion

    Alaska Airlines plane on tarmac at Sonoma County Airport

    What once was an airport with only a handful of flights, the Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport has expanded to a bustling hub with direct fights to Los Angles, Denver, Dallas, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Reno-Tahoe, Orange County, Burbank, and Las Vegas. The airport is still in a growth phase and continues to add more flights.

    According to a recent economic impact analysis, the Capital Improvement Plan at Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport will support an average of 164 jobs annually; generate $100.9 million in total payroll, $31.2 million in tax revenue, and $231.7 million in economic output in Sonoma County. Across all North Bay Counties, the Capital Improvement Plan will support an average of 169 jobs annually; generate $104.1 million in total payroll, $32.3 million in tax revenue, and $240.9 million in economic output.

    The Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport expansion supports economic development in these ways:

    • Increases access for Sonoma County businesses to conduct business with major metropolitan areas
    • Creates opportunities for a workforce pipeline
    • Attracts visitors from other areas to Sonoma County

    Bodega Bay Harbor: Intersection of Activities

    marina with boats parked and grassy hills in the background

    Sonoma County is full of diverse landscapes that provide a variety of economic activity. This is especially true with the Bodega Bay Harbor on Sonoma County’s coast. The harbor is an intersection of commercial fishing, coastal recreation, and life sciences.

    Commercial fishing has a long-standing history on the Sonoma County Coast with several generational family businesses. In 2020, more than 3 million pounds of fish, from Dungeness crab to salmon, were caught off the coast totaling over $10 million in value. Along with catching fish, the coast is also known for catching visitors. Although the community has a population of just about 1,000, the Sonoma Coast Visitors Center in Bodega Bay saw more than 26,500 visitors during their pre-pandemic height, many of them interested in camping, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and more.

    Observing the intersection of commercial fishing, coastal recreation, and 250+ species in Bodega Bay is the Bodega Marine Laboratory. Bodega Bay’s biological diversity and productivity make ideal conditions to study and discover the impact of daily interactions to coastal environments. The research helps inform and identify strategies for sustaining coastal environments.

    Bodega Bay Harbor’s diverse activity fosters economic development in the following ways:

    • Creates coastal outdoor recreation haven that supports several small businesses in the area
    • Supports generations of fishing activity and livelihoods
    • Serves as an epicenter of critical research with global impacts to help preserve coastal environments

    Happening at EDB

    Access Sonoma Broadband Action Plan

    For many years, the EDB has steadily worked towards closing the digital divide in Sonoma County. The COVID-19 pandemic only further increased the need for accessible and affordable broadband as it is often a means of 

    • Access to economic activities and advantages
    • Access to education and upskilling
    • Access to healthcare
    • Access to important emergency information. 

    On June 8, 2021, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved the Access Sonoma Broadband Action Plan. The purpose of the plan is to explore the creation of a publicly governed broadband entity. This entity could deploy, own, and manage broadband infrastructure within Sonoma County, reducing the cost barriers for broadband providers, and closing the regional digital divide. Additionally, the Board of Supervisors allocated $3 million to implement the creation of a broadband governance organization. 

    Read full Access Sonoma Broadband Action Plan (PDF: 2.97 MB)

    Childcare Apprenticeship Program

    mother reading to children

    Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonoma County lost more than half of its childcare slots and continues to struggle to reach pre-pandemic levels. Sonoma County has seen several facilities close permanently due to the pandemic, a shortage in the childcare workforce, and limited access to training and certifications to become a childcare provider. This decrease in access to childcare has also become a barrier for parents trying to reenter the workforce. 

    EDB, in collaboration with the Santa Rosa Junior College, Workforce Investment Board, and various childcare organization are currently working on a Childcare Apprenticeship Program, which will increase access to childcare training and certifications. The paid apprenticeship will assist participants to

    • Open a home day care or
    • Teach early childhood education

    The program will also offer a career pathway for childcare providers who want to obtain a four-year college degree and teaching credential. 

    How EDB can Help

    Starting or expanding your business?

    EDB business assistance team

    A critical piece to economic development is providing accessible and affordable business services. This is especially important in Sonoma County where a majority of businesses are small and independently owned. 

    EDB provides free and customized services to help start and move businesses to the next level. EDB’s Business Assistance Team brings together a wide range of knowledge and resources that have helped thousands of Sonoma County businesses thrive.

    EDB assists businesses with

    • Navigating the startup process
    • Accessing workforce development tools and funding for on the job training
    • Troubleshooting a wide variety of businesses challenges
    • Connecting businesses with key contacts, financing, and training opportunities
    • Researching market trends and accessing economic insight reports
    • Expanding and relocating operations
    • Collaborating on issues affecting our regional economy

    If you or someone you know is looking to start or grow a business, reach out to EDB today and learn more about our services.

    Are you a creative or part of a creative organization?

    artist wood working in studio

    Creative Sonoma provides programs and services to help Sonoma County’s creative community grow and prosper. This investment in our creative and culture sector makes Sonoma County more vibrant and increases overall quality of life.

    Creative Sonoma assists the creative sector with

    • Individualized business assistance
    • Access to grants and funding
    • Art education strategy
    • Developing critical partnerships
    • Professional development
    • Participation in special art programs

    Learn more about Creative Sonoma initiatives and services at CreativeSonoma.org.