Today, a random-access column of items:

Piece of the puzzle: It wasn't a big story, but it was emblematic of a much larger need for the region's manufacturing sector.

The story was about the small Santa Rosa company Milner's Anodizing receiving a key certification. The National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Association Program approval means Milner's can perform metal coating to meet the highest specifications demanded by manufacturers.

The certification also meant that local manufacturers making products for the defense, aerospace and other industries now have anodizing performed locally. No more shipping parts to Southern California or out of state. Anodizing can be done locally, improving product delivery times and increasing competitiveness for everyone involved.

The North Bay is blessed with a rich mix of small manufacturers supplying sophisticated products to companies like Boeing and others.

Maintaining that variety, including suppliers like Milner's, is critical to their ongoing success.

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An aside: The Business Journal's annual Women in Business awards are always a source of inspiration, and the 2009 gala got off to a particularly strong beginning June 25.

Addressing the 170 attendees, construction category winner Marlene Soiland made a passionate appeal for a return to working together as a community.

Noting that the awards ceremony at the Sheraton Petaluma was just across the river from the proposed Dutra Materials asphalt plant, the president and owner of Santa Rosa-based Soiland Management Co. Inc. expressed concern that the debate over the facility had devolved into us versus them.

With jobs, livelihoods and the environment at stake in the debate, she urged everyone to stop working at odds and begin to work together for the betterment of the larger community.

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Last word: Here's a thought. As governments come under increasing budgetary constraints, could it dawn on mayors, supervisors, state legislators and members of Congress that the only long-term way to secure more taxes is to encourage free enterprise and innovation, not suppress them with regulation and higher taxes?

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Brad Bollinger is editor in chief and associate publisher of the Business Journal, 707-521-4251 or bbollinger@busjrnl.com. See his blog at northbaybusinessjournal.com.