I could not be more proud of the West Business Development Center team. Their dedication to serving our business community is demonstrated by the tremendous growth we have seen over this past year; serving 455 small business clients, launching 67 new businesses, with more than 2264 hours of business advising time. We provided technical assistance for 58 clients to get access to more than $7 million in capital and contributed to 134 jobs being created. In addition to our staff we have an incredible cadre of smart advisers who are working to help small businesses uncover the answers they need to grow and prosper.

As a nonprofit we rely on the financial support of many to fuel this growth. We are grateful to our core financial funding partners from the federal Small Business Administration and the state California Office of Business & Economic Development. In addition, this year I am proud to say, we put those funds together with local support from The Community Foundation of Mendocino County, Adventist Health, Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Mendocino College, Harvest Market, North Coast Brewery, Economic Development & Financing Corporation(EDFC), Mendocino County, Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce, Willits Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Ukiah Chamber of Commerce. Combining public and private as well as, Federal and County and State funding offers us the opportunity to create more unique programs and deliver a high level of advising expertise to our small businesses for free. 

New, innovative approaches are always required when we think about ways to approach how to strengthen our Counties and create ways for all of us to grow and prosper. In addition to the advising and low-cost workshops we provide all year, we have created a variety of new programs to continue to power economic development in our region in 2019.

Community Marketplace

This was a customized training to assist emerging entrepreneurs from the Latino community with hands-on experience in public sales of their products and services. This joint venture was developed with Healthy Mendocino, Economic Development & Financing Corp. (EDFC), Ukiah Vecinos en Accion (UVA), ARC Family Resource Center (FRC), and the Alex Rorabaugh Recreation Center (ARRC). We provided expert technical assistance training these emerging entrepreneurs in how to set up their businesses, business plans and gave them help with identifying their markets and customers as well as product viability and financial tools like profit and loss statements.

Startup Mendocino

Startup Mendocino was a business pitch competition designed to ignite and spark thinking about what is possible in Mendocino County. This program exceeded our wildest expectations, with more than 82 applicants with phenomenal ideas. 12 finalists participated in an intensive pitch workshop series, and five finalists competed live, on-stage at Mendocino College to win cash prizes of more than $20,000. The level of our competing entrepreneurs clearly demonstrated that entrepreneurial ingenuity is alive and well in Mendocino County. The local community came out in full force as did State and Local officials all of them in support of rural innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset. We are grateful for the local support received from, The John & Sandra Family Economic Fund of the Community Foundation of Mendocino County,  Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Economic Development & Financing Corporation, Adventist Health, North Coast Brewing Company, Harvest Market, The Mendocino Coast, Willits and Greater Ukiah Chambers of Commerce, and KOZT The Coast. The Ukiah Daily Journal, Willits Weekly, Mendocino Voice, Fort Bragg Advocate, KZYX, all supported Startup Mendocino with interviews and front-page stories which got people talking and thinking about what we can achieve here in Mendocino County. And like any great success it takes many helping hands. For this we are grateful to the regional Norcal Small Business Development Center, the Governor’s Office on Business and Economic Development. the California Women’s Business Centers and California Association of Micro Enterprise (CAMEO) We’ll be running Startup Mendocino again in 2020 and excited to meet a new crop of entrepreneurs next year.

Emergency Preparation

This year, like the past three years since I have been CEO of this organization, fires, and natural disasters have plagued our region. After the 2017 Redwood Valley fires West took immediate action to craft a training program to help businesses address many of the preparation challenges they faced after the fire. Our Emergency Preparation for Small Business workshop, sponsored by Wells Fargo, is now being used by several counties throughout California including Napa, Sonoma, Kern, Lake, and Shasta. We presented this program in Washington, DC at the Association of Women’s Business Centers and have now have been approached by several states to conduct workshops in their disaster-prone regions. Advance planning for disasters is a way to safeguard the years of work put into a business and protect its people, assets and our communities. Helping businesses grow is our mission. At West we will continue to create programs like this one to help to businesses when they need it.

Online Webinars

This fall we launched a series of online webinars to make it easier for clients to get help anytime, from anywhere on topics like HR, Marketing, Sales and eCommerce. More will be rolled out this spring!

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the tremendous output of our marketing and communications that has been done by the team. We continue to utilize a variety of digital communication platforms to get information out to the community. Please check out our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube accounts for information and inspiration. Amorette, Clara and Meghan are the engine behind the content and thanks to them we have received much praise for our timely stories and information.

For all of these and many more reasons, I am so grateful to be a part of this thriving rural entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mendocino and Lake County. After three years of service, I have only grown more optimistic as to what the future can hold. Our strategic mission will continue to support, bolster and ignite economic development so that our entire region can thrive. I look forward to 2020 and with your help unlocking more opportunities to create a vibrant and diverse economy. 

Mary Anne Petrillo, CEO

West Business Development Center

Emergency Prep Workshops in January:

January 7th, Fort Bragg, FREE

January 8th, Ukiah, Fort Bragg, FREE

Free Business Advising at West Business Development Center

If you are a business of one or a company of 100 employees, at any stage from startup to established, WestBDC offers free business advising  — on whatever topic you might be stuck on. If it’s finding the right loan to expand, staffing your business with the right people or even just wading through new minimum wage requirements, we have experts ready to help you right now. 

Click here to sign up for free advising. We’ll schedule a free, thirty-minute call and then we’ll assign you the free expert advisor you need.

See how these successful businesses set up, grew and expanded with West Business Development Center Free Advising services:

Frosted: Cupcakes & Goodies, Fort Bragg

Seagull Inn, Mendocino

Peace and Plenty Farms, Kelseyville

Smithwood Mercantile, Mendocino

To see more Client success stories check out our Client Stories or our YouTube channel.

Are you a woman-owned business? 

Please join us for our monthly networking events where you can meet other women entrepreneurs and share best practices, knowledge and make friends.

If you are a women-owned business and are interested in hosting Women’s Mendopreneurs Empowerment Night we would love to hear from you! Send us an email at events@westcenter.org