City offers drop-in help for business owners

Posted on September 20, 2012 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Business owners or those interested in starting a new business will now be able to drop in at City Hall to meet with the Economic Development Program Manager Laurie Decker at regular office hours.

Decker’s City Hall office hours will be held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Upcoming dates are October 3 and October 17.

“The City wants to make it easy for new and expanding businesses to find the resources and information they need earlier in the process,” said City Manager Linda Kelly.

The city’s traditional loan and business improvement grant programs were ended when the state eliminated redevelopment funding. Sonoma, though, said Kelly, remains supportive of providing a robust economic development program for the benefit of our local businesses.

“Having drop-in office hours for business assistance right here at City Hall allows businesses another way to tap into the full range of resources that they find useful,” she said.

Services and resources include:

  • Assistance with understanding licensing and permitting processes
  • Information to aid in business site selection
  • Resources to assist in developing a business plan and launching a business
  • Business workshops and one-on-one advisory services for existing businesses
  • Connections to regional resources.

Meetings are also available by appointment at the Chamber of Commerce on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  Contact Laurie Decker at (707) 327-7338 or at [email protected]

The Economic Development Partnership is a collaboration of the City of Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, providing assistance to both prospective and existing local businesses as well as various initiatives to support the local economy.  More information can be found online at

Biz notes….

Bank of Marin has named Susan Walker of Sonoma as Vice President and Business Banking Team Leader in its Novato headquarters office. Walker has more than 30 years of commercial banking experience in various management roles at U.S. Bank. She has also worked with numerous non-profit organizations benefiting the arts and education as a board member and volunteer, and has been a committed fund raiser for the American Cancer Society.

Sonoma Music Arts School has a new piano teacher: Deirdre Egan. She is a Music Therapist at the Sonoma Developmental Center and Kaiser Permanente, and plays regularly at parties, wineries, weddings, local events and concerts. Ms. Egan is excited to return to teaching. “I love the resources available at the school,” she said. “Having a centralized location where a student can focus on music without the distractions of home or work is priceless.  As a teacher, the space where one teaches is just as important as the material being taught.”

Edward Jones associate Sharon Sweeden has been honored for her client service excellence for her work as Senior Branch Office for the branch office of Matthew Lightner in Sonoma. For the second time, this recognition earned Sweeden an invitation to Edward Jones’ annual conference in October at the firm’s St. Louis headquarters Sweeden said that being invited to the conference is not only an honor but a chance to freshen ideas for enhancing client service. “Service excellence is how Edward Jones distinguishes itself in the financial services industry, and that is how Matt and Sharon have distinguished themselves,” said Edward Jones Managing Partner Jim Weddle. “We want to learn from their success and share their insights with others.”

The Kenwood Inn and Spa has named Heike Pacchetti as General Manager. A 20-year industry veteran, she has held top management positions at Calistoga Ranch, Auberge du Soleil, Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, among others. A native of Germany, Heike graduated from Hotel Business School in Mainz, Germany in conjunction with a three-year apprenticeship at the Lendershof Guest House (Germany). “We couldn’t be more pleased with our selection of Heike as the next general manager of The Kenwood Inn and Spa” says Bret Matteson, the company president. “Her background working at other world class, luxury properties combined with her experience as Kenwood’s director of operations, makes her the ideal person to further enhance Kenwood’s award-winning legacy for a stellar guest experience.”

Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy is first business to be recognized as a Five-Time Award Winner by the US Commerce Association. The USCA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. “We are thrilled to be recognized for the hard work we perform in serving the Sonoma community,” said Michael Stowe, manager of the Sonoma store, which opened at 303 West Napa Street in 2002. “We’re also celebrating our tenth anniversary in Sonoma this year, so receiving this award is the icing on the cake.”

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