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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, February 18, 2013, 5:00 am

Business News: Week of Feb. 18, 2013

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    Agriculture

    The herd of beef cattle at Petaluma’s Spring Hill Ranch is now certified by the Alexandria, Va.-based Animal Welfare Approved program. Required for certification and use of the food label is verification of high animal-welfare standards and use of sustainable agriculture methods on an independent family farm. Spring Hill Ranch is said to be the seventh farm to earn this certification in Sonoma County.

    Banking & Finance

    Working Solutions, a nonprofit microlender that recently opened an office in San Rafael, recently funded Marin County businesses. The most recent was Spot on Square, which provides high-end, eco-conscious furniture for children and adults. Owners Robert and Nicole Springer approached Working Solutions to obtain capital to expand their product line and grow inventory. Spot on Square obtained a $45,000 loan plus five years of business advising at no extra cost. Spot on Square has seen a surge in demand recently due to favorable mentions in Pregnancy & Newborn Buyer’s Guide and magazines Pregnancy and Parents.

    Education

    Three wines produced by students at Santa Rosa Junior College won medals in the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Shone Farm 2010 pinot noir won a gold medal, while its 2009 syrah and 2011 rosé won a silver and bronze, respectively, in the January competition. The college has an extensive viticulture and enology program, where students learn the art and science of grape growing and wine making at the college’s 365-acrefield laboratory located in Russian River Valley near Forestville. The winery, bonded in 2008, serves as a teaching laboratory where students learn wine making skills from some of industry’s eminent wine makers.

    Keiretsu Forum, a large global private-equity angel investment network, and The Venture Greenhouse at Dominican University of California plan to hold the Green Technology Investment Showcase on April 3 from 1–4:30 p.m. at the early-stage green business accelerator in San Rafael. The event will feature seven early-stage green technology companies that will present to more than 80 key attendees from the North Bay angel investment and economic development community. Expert guest speakers will discuss trends in energy investment in emerging markets, crowdfunding, impact investment models, evolution of sustainable investment, intellectual-property issues and trends in venture capital investment in green technologies. Attendees will enjoy networking over locally sourced appetizers and wines from sustainable North Bay wineries. Showcase partners include the North Bay Angels, the largest and oldest investor group north of the Golden Gate, Investor’s Circle, the largest impact investing network in the world, and North Bay iHub, a regional economic-development collaborative.

    Hospitality

    An abandoned elementary school on Main Street in the west Sonoma County’s Monte Rio community will be transformed into a destination where residents and visitors can enjoy a café, hiking trail, a skate park and a community farm. The board of directors of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District approved a $389,000 matching grant as part of a $1.4 million project that also includes matching funds of $995,000 in former redevelopment funds, and $5,000 from the Tony Hawk Foundation.  The project was accepted into the district’s matching-grant program in September. Construction at the 3.8-acre site, which is part of the Monte Rio Recreation and Park District, is expected to be finished by year-end.

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