Rosy, robust, upward-trending… all the popular positive buzzwords were invoked at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual economic “State of the Valley” breakfast.
The gathering was well attended, even at 7:30 a.m., by the business people and politicians that keep a keen eye on the local economic barometer. The mood was upbeat and optimistic, based on revenue figures for tourism and sales taxes, which are up an pacing well.
Congressman Mike Thompson outlined his objectives for the upcoming term. These included investing federal funds in upgrading infrastructure in this district, which would inevitably lead to job growth.
Another of his projects is promoting immigration reform, as so much of Sonoma’s economy rests on agriculture, which depends on immigrant farm labor. A disturbing fact that he offered: did we know that the Department of Defense buys its American flags in China? Thompson pointed out that a reputable American flag maker is right here in Sonoma – North Bay Industries – and he wants them to be more utilized for their local, U.S. made product.
Supervisor Susan Gorin provided an upbeat assessment of the county economy in 2013 compared to previous years, and predicted continued strength in 2014. Priority items for her are improving the infrastructure (i.e. Highway 12 and the Santa Rosa Airport), supporting businesses that stay local, and bettering the lives of children and families in need.
Gorin also said she looks to the Sonoma County Coalition to preserve the Sonoma Developmental Center and its vast property for public use.
Sonoma Mayor Tom Rouse inserted a note of levity when he began his speech by inviting all guests to stand, and then exhorted them to dance, to the music on his I-phone, “because we need rain!” (Two days later, it rained.)
Rouse said one of the city’s best investments in 2013 was Dickie, the drug-sniffing police dog, who seems to have already earned his keep in drug arrests.
– Linda Blum | Sonoma Valley Sun