From the CEO’s Desk | Written by Mary Anne Petrillo

January 20, 2020 – With the backdrop of so much going on across the U.S. and the world, at the start of this new decade, I continue to be grateful to call Mendocino County my home.

We have so many exciting developments happening this year at West Business Development Center (West BDC), and I am really excited to share them with you. First, in line with our strategic plan, we are building out our capacity to serve more businesses in Mendocino and Lake Counties and bring more great programs to you. We have hired two wonderful additions to our team and moved one of our team members into a new role to do just that.

I’m proud to announce Jo Williams is now our Director of Operations. You may know Jo already if you have come in for an orientation, to meet with an advisor or stopped by to say hello at our office in Fort Bragg. She started with us in 2017 as our administrative coordinator and was the first face or voice many of our clients talked to on the phone or in the office when they came by for advising. She has stepped into her new role and we’re excited to have operations in her capable hands. Marian McDavid is a new addition to our team who will be taking over as Administrative Coordinator, and with her extensive background in customer service, sales and financial reporting, she is a great asset to our team and our Board of Directors.  

We’ve also brought on Laura Carrithers as our Director of Strategic Programs who will oversee the development of strategic programs including Startup Mendocino, Community Marketplace and our Women’s Business Center.  She brings more than 15 years of experience helping people and organizations determine their goals and create clear directives to overcome any obstacles through her work with community-based services. We’re thrilled to have Marian and Laura join our team and have Jo move into her new role in order to serve more people in Mendocino and Lake Counties.

Our 2020 workshop program kicked off this year with our popular and free (thanks to our grant from Wells Fargo), Emergency Preparation for Small Business. This workshop is taught in both Fort Bragg and Ukiah and we encourage everyone with a business large or small to attend, even if you’re a solo-preneur. Rachel Clark, our trainer for this program, provides a fresh perspective about preparation for your business during hard times. The positive feedback this workshop has generated, has our offices inundated with requests to come and teach the program throughout the state at businesses and organizations large and small. If you’d like to offer this workshop onsite to your employees and/or organization, just reach out and we will get one scheduled for you.

We’ve also just launched a *new and improved* Business Basics workshop as well as The Art of Managing Employees and Tax Prep workshops. Last Fall, we launched our webinar series and will continue this spring with a new Advisor-driven workshops and webinars on topics like Marketing Basics, Foundations of Finance, How to Sell, and more. 

At the state level, Governor Newsom and the Office of Business & Economic Development have made the North Coast one of their key priorities as they address inclusive economic development, stagnant median household incomes and wealth disparities in rural regions. West BDC will continue to be active in the Regions Rise Together initiative to support small business growth and expansion in our region. 

This year, as part of a Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant, Mendocino County has selected West BDC to coordinate the development of an Economic Recovery and Resiliency plan. Over the next 12 months, we will be working closely with stakeholders across the county to put together MOVE 2030: Mendocino Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy. The plan will take a data-driven look at what we need to build resiliency in the face of changing climate, demographics, and technology. We will be partnering with stakeholders in the County to get feedback and report out on our findings at Town Halls and on our blog as well. We are looking to hire an Economic Development Coordinator to help administrate this program if you’d like to apply, click here.

As always, West Business Development Center grateful to host two technical assistance programs from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The  Mendocino Women’s Business Centers of California, with a proven track record of creating successful businesses and growth for female entrepreneurs, minorities, and individuals seeking entrepreneurship as a way out of poverty, and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The SBDC assists West with many services, including securing experienced advisers in the field of capital acquisition, buying and selling businesses and restaurant management.

All in all, change is in the air. I’m looking forward to this year and this decade and making it the best yet for all we serve in Mendocino and Lake Counties.