“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” Henry David Thoreau

During the past year at West Center, we have seen amazing acts of determination and survival among our clients. Our daily engagement with these entrepreneurs has shown us that many are living lives driven more by fortitude than by fear. Their tenacity in the face of the unknown gives us, the West Center team, the strength to help them in every way we can.

In 2021 our direct counseling served more than 700 clients and we helped over 35 businesses receive $10 million in loans. We held 135 different business workshops with 2,950 attendees receiving training and education. We delivered an economic resiliency plan to the County of Mendocino that lays out key recommendations for us to implement in order to build a prosperous economic future. With funding support from federal, state, regional, local, and private agencies, all of our confidential services were delivered at no cost.

As amazing as this delivery has been, we know it is still not enough to patch up the cracks that have emerged in our economy. The COVID health crisis will eventually be put to rest, but the COVID economic fallout will be with us for years to come. Not just in our local economy but across the nation, COVID laid bare the need for a coordinated single-focus vision to improve infrastructure, modernize delivery systems, and deliver a workforce prepared for the future. Our small businesses continue to struggle to compete globally and locally. They need basic infrastructure including high-speed connectivity, adequate housing, affordable healthcare, and childcare.

I have worked with many inspiring and amazing people this year who continue to find ways to help their community and our economy flourish. As we close this year there are a few bright stars on the horizon that may yet transform our economy in ways that will be regenerative and community-focused. Among them is the Noyo Science Center as part of a string of exciting innovative research centers stretching from Crescent City to Bodega Bay creating a new blue ocean economy in our region. New technologies in timber processing, biomass, and forestry have the potential to become a bedrock of economic growth for the entire north state region. And with the advancement of the Great Redwood Trail, we will not be united just by a path but our economies will be connected on the future road we will all be traveling.

Prosperity will come but only if we travel together. So let us be grateful for this past year and the lessons it has taught us. We are thankful for all of you who have supported us during this time of transition and we look forward to 2022 and the extraordinary wonders we will uncover.

We wish you all a very happy holiday season and best wishes for the New Year!

From the West Center Team