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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, July 18, 2011, 7:00 am

Brad Bollinger: Who’s hiring, investing, and innovating? These North Bay manufacturers

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    The Business Journal today devotes a significant part of this edition to the 13 winners of our inaugural Top Manfacturers Awards.

    These are good news stories. They are stories about growth, jobs and innovation, all the things that everyone talks about but that these companies and their employees are achieving every day.

    The honorees include a recent presidential export award winner. They include a 300-employee, family owned SBA Small Business of the Year for Northern California. They include a 14-employee electronics component company that won a coveted supplier award from a global manufacturer.

    They include a Marin County pharmaceutical company that is pioneering treatments for rare diseases that afflict children and adults. The winners include one of the fastest growing renewable energy technology companies anywhere.

    And they include companies that make products that must meet the highest standards of the aerospace and wireless communications industries. They include champions of the environment.

    When reading about many of these companies, the response might be “I didn’t know that was here in the North Bay.” And that is completely understandable. After all, many of the winners never make headlines and reside in office and industrial parks off the beaten path and out of view from the general public.

    And while many of us focus our attention locally, most if not all of the winners and other manufacturers in the North Bay out of necessity direct their energy to other regions, states and countries because that is where their customers are.

    Because they do that, the North Bay reaps the significant economic benefits of exports that bring dollars and jobs into the region.

    Spend some time talking to the leaders of these companies and one will learn that they want to keep jobs here at a variety of skill levels, whether high-school educated or Ph.D-trained engineers. And they are willing to provide training and good wages.

    But they need our help.

    One will also learn from the leaders of these companies that their most difficult task is finding talent. Yes, they need engineers. But they also need high-school or technical-trained workers that can think on their feet. Training and work force development are among these companies’ top priorities.

    Meanwhile, as was mentioned at the beginning here, many of these enterprises are growing. That means they need facilities and resources that often require building and other public permits. A month of delays might mean little to some. But to these companies it can mean the difference between getting a big order – and the jobs that go with it – or losing it.

    These award winners and scores more like them constitute the North Bay’s unknown jewels. They deserve our safekeeping.

    •••

    Brad Bollinger is Business Journal editor in chief and associate publisher. He can be reached at 707-521-4251 or bbollinger@busjrnl.com.

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