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[caption id="attachment_12039" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="Doug Clark, president, founder and CEO of Metier"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA - The Santa Rosa Economic Development Division can take a lot of the credit in Washington, D.C.-based Metier's decision to open its first branch office in the city.

Since April the division has been working overtime to smooth the software company's way through the process.

"We got a tip from the state economic development department that a software company was looking to open in California and had mentioned Santa Rosa as a possibility," said Dannielle Surdin, Santa Rosa economic development manager.

Her division, which was recently expanded to include her and two specialists in addition to director David Gouin and coordinator Nancy Manchester, sprang into action.

"We established a relationship with Metier immediately and met with company representatives when they came scouting in California," said Ms. Surdin.

Doug Clark, the president, founder and CEO of Metier, had lived in the Bay Area, it turned out.

"I've always loved Sonoma County: the weather, the scenery, the availability of hiking and biking trails," said Mr. Clark.

But he also loved San Joaquin County, and Ms. Surdin and her team were quick to point out the advantages of doing business in the North Bay.

Both areas are experiencing tough times in the commercial real estate sector, which was a draw to fiscally conservative Metier.

"We pointed to proximity of our airport, with its connections to Washington and Oregon. Metier has customers there, so Horizon Air was a huge factor in the decision," said Ms. Manchester.

Mr. Clark asked about tax incentives.

"Washington, D.C., has a very attractive financial incentive program for software companies. I hoped to find something similar here," he said.

But there was nothing to offer him.

"We suspected other cities he was looking at would offer incentives, but we couldn't match them," said Ms. Surdin. "But we could offer the incentives of wonderful wine and foods and lifestyle."

More importantly, her division worked with commercial real estate professionals and property owners to expedite the lease on a cool-looking temporary office near Railroad Square.

Anticipating the company's need for a larger space, they also lined up possibilities. Metier has found a location within the city that it likes, and the permitting process for improvements is already under way.

Metier plans to grow an initial staff of about half a dozen employees to 50 to 125.

Although Mr. Clark expressed enthusiasm for the future SMART train and development of Railroad Square, "he knows those projects are a marathon, not a sprint," said Ms. Surdin.

"His company will be a draw to other businesses to settle in the downtown area."

Metier intends to be a good corporate citizen and add to the resources in Sonoma County.

"I was impressed by the educational institutions in the area. Sonoma State University has been quite a help in our recruitment efforts," said Mr. Clark, who hopes to establish training programs with the university and with Santa Rosa Junior College.

Although Ms. Surdin is fairly confident that Metier will be happily settled in permanent quarters in a year or so, she doesn't rule out the possibility of other cities trying to woo the company away.

"We'll continue to provide concierge service," she said.

"A case like Metier, where optimism and persistence find success, is an encouragement to the whole business community," she said.