Sonoma County and Mendocino County, California, (Sonoma Mendocino) constitute a region of immense natural beauty, quality of life, and economic drivers that attract visitors from around the world. The region’s storied history of technology innovation and strategic geographic positioning in proximity to San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area provide for a wide array of economic development opportunities. Locally grown and organic food, natural products and healthy living industries, clean energy, and, potentially, legal cannabis, are other drivers that will play an increasingly important role in diversifying and strengthening the economy in the future.
Sensing an opportunity to collaborate on issues impacting the entire region, Sonoma County and Mendocino County formed a joint powers agreement in 2015 to create the Sonoma-Mendocino Economic Development District and launch Innovate, Sustain, and Compete, a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) built around four core themes: economic diversification (resilience), human capital, innovation and entrepreneurship, and inclusive economic development.
The call to action was clear:
• Sonoma-Mendocino must diversify its economy to build resilience against downturns in consumer confidence, discretionary spending, and real estate investment.
• Educational attainment, a traditional strength for the region, has not kept pace with US gains and now trails the national average for postsecondary completion.
• Average earnings are not keeping up with housing costs, creating a disproportionate impact on minority workers.