NORTH BAY – With the construction industry severely weakened by the current recession, the Business Journal decided it was time to give a fresh face to its annual Building the North Bay Construction Conference.

This year’s event, entitled Public Meets Private, will move the focus away from individual presenters and instead facilitate a discussion among the region’s public officials and the private sector.

This year’s conference aims to bring these groups together to initiate a dialogue and find common ground so that potential solutions may be identified to help support recovery of the industry and serve the community.

Local building and development leaders and the community at large were invited to submit questions for the panelists on topics they feel are critical to the future success of North Bay construction.

Several themes emerged, including regulatory issues, permitting and fees, water, urban-centered growth, green building and environmental issues, housing plans and stimulus funding for projects.

Public-sector participants in the discussion are Santa Rosa Mayor Susan Gorin, San Rafael Mayor Al Boro, Napa Mayor Jill Techel and Fifth District Napa County Supervisor Keith Caldwell. Joining them will be Keith Rogal of Napa Development Partners, Craig Lawson of Pinnacle Homes and co-chair of the Construction Coalition, a collaboration between the Home Builders Association and the North Coast Builders Exchange, and John Bly of Ghilotti Construction, also co-chair of the Construction Coalition.

President and CEO of the North Coast Builders Exchange Keith Woods will give an industry outlook and overview.

The conference will be held Thursday at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa. Registration begins at 1 p.m., and the program runs from 1:30 to 4:30. A wine and hors d’oeuvres reception will follow. Cost is $49 per person.

To register, contact Linda Perkins at or 707-521-5264, or go to to register online.

A sampling of questions individuals submitted for the construction panel

How can we efficiently incorporate water-saving systems into new construction?

The focus on future development is on urban-centered growth, infill and mixed-use projects. Is there demand for this type of space in the North Bay, and what does a successful urban-centered growth project for our region look like?

What can municipalities do to spur the local economy? What kind of incentives can they provide to attract businesses to create jobs which will increase housing demand?

What is the public sector, specifically councils and boards, doing in reducing the perception that our cities and county is anti-business? Why is it that during bad economic times building and planning fees have gone up?

It seems like no matter how much rain we get there is never enough to meet everyone’s needs. How can we better balance the needs of residents and agriculture with the endangered fish and the environment?

How can elected officials and seniors city officials get more “customer service” in the processes?