Take Your Specialty Food Business from Passion to Profit in Lakeport

Cookies, cakes, fruits, nuts, jams, jellies, crackers, chips, pancakes, sauces, meats, seafood, mushrooms, organic, local, homemade – is your mouth watering yet? These are just a few of what we know as specialty food items – those delectable tidbits we fill up our grocery cart with or send to friends and family on special occasions.

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Fierce Women Make a Difference

Over the years my work has taken me to many conferences and gatherings around the world that celebrate the achievements of women and their organizations. Woman are often in the forefront of social innovation tackling societal problems in creative ways using science, technology and the arts. Think of organizations like Woman to Women International, Girls Who Code or The Malala Fund; all global organizations conceived by women who saw a corner of the world that was in dire need of help.

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Sheilah Rogers and West Company: Women Empowering Women (and Men too!)

When Mendocino County native Sheilah Rogers went off to graduate school at the prestigious School for International Development in Vermont she had no idea pursuing her love for international initiatives would bring her right back home.

In 1987 the James Irvine Foundation, a California-based grant making organization partnered with the Coalition for Women’s Economic Development. This was an organization dedicated to lifting women and people with low incomes out of poverty through what was then called, self-employment.  

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Profit Mastery in Point Arena

Most entrepreneurs start their business fueled by a passion, after they identify a need in the market, or simply go out on their own after working for a company for many years. Entrepreneurs are a special breed, combining creativity, drive and a lot of hard work in order to see their dreams come true. Often, even with the best business idea, solid financials and a thriving customer base, true profit year over year can be elusive.

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Going Digital in 2019

One of the top things I hear from the hundreds of businesses we work with every year in Mendocino County, is about “going digital”. Clients ask us everyday, “How do I even start?” or “I want to learn digital but I don’t have time”. As a person who had her own small graphic design business back when I used a ruler, drafting table and a telephone, I know how daunting dipping a toe in the digital world can be.

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The Government Has Returned – But is it Fast Enough to Help Rural Non-profits?

Running a non-profit has never been an easy job, driven by a mission, dictated by a Board, and more often than not scrambling to pay the bills each month. In a rural economy, non-profits often fill the necessary gaps in social services when local governments and private enterprise cannot. In Mendocino County there are more than 600 non-profits serving a county of 89,000 people.

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Open the Doors: Up and Running in the Food Service Biz

Whether you just bought a food truck or you’ve had an idea for a restaurant business for years, now’s the time to learn everything you can about opening up your own food services business.

Our first workshop this year on food service in our Food for Thought series, is Thursday, February 21st in Ukiah. Julia Siderakis, former owner of Ukiah’s beloved Garden Café and instructor at Mendocino College, and Steve O’Mara, entrepreneurial expert, will teach you all the basics you need for getting up and running in your culinary business.

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Take Your Business Online with West Business Development Center

If you’ve had a brick and mortar business, or are thinking of starting an online business, this is the workshop for you.


Join Veronika Monell, the CEO of JumpStartNOW in Fort Bragg or Willits, February 13th or 14th or 15th to learn everything you need to know about going online. This dynamic workshop will cover why eCommerce is a huge opportunity to increase your profits, what to consider before you start, how to identify customers and creating your online marketing strategy.

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eCommerce, WorkshopsClara Shook
New Workshops for 2019

We’re celebrating the new year by offering a whole new slate of exciting workshops this year on everything from how to use Instagram to turning your passion into profit. We’ll also be partnering with Visit Mendocino for a workshop series on Hospitality in the Digital Age and, offering a full program of workshops on Culinary Entrepreneurship called Food For Thought and more.

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Ukiah Daily Journal shares the news about our name change

Our local paper is getting the word out about our name change:

[CEO Mary Anne] Petrillo says that now is a very exciting time for small business. “Technology is allowing entrepreneurs to live where they want and still access global markets.” With the new name, new website and expansion of services, she hopes to send the message that WBDC is moving with the times. She says, “We’re still here. Changing, growing and making a difference. We are in a new economy and even established small business owners are facing new challenges every day.

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West Company Receives $50,000 from Wells Fargo to Support Small Businesses Recovering from Impacts of Fires

West Business Development Center (formerly West Company) announced today that it has received a grant of $50,000 from Wells Fargo to help small businesses in Mendocino and Lake Counties that are suffering from the impact of recent fires in the region. The funds will allow West Business Development Center to create a natural disaster preparedness toolkit for small businesses. The toolkit will include a workbook, videos and workshop curriculum designed to help get businesses back up and running after a disaster strikes.

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Business Coach Rachel Clark on Preparing Your Business for Natural Disasters

Like so many other places, California has experienced historic natural disasters in the past few years. Rachel Clark discusses the important steps you need to take to safeguard your business in case a catastrophic event affects you. Her article “Are You Prepared For A Natural Disaster?” is important advice for all business owners for, as she points out, “emergencies happen, things don’t go as planned and life changes on a dime." The sooner we accept that and take the necessary measures to protect the businesses we’ve worked so hard to build, the better off we will be when disaster strikes.

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September 24th: Back to Business Mendocino Roadshow.

West Center is participating in the Back to Business Mendocino Roadshow. Come find out how to recover from unexpected business impacts or do business with federal and state agencies during this morning event, hosted collaboratively with the U.S. Small Business Administration, West Company, the Northern California Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and The Veteran's Business Outreach Center.

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