NORTH BAY – The Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics and the North Bay Business Journal are collaborating on the school’s 17th annual economic outlook conference in February.

“The Time is Now: Developing a regional strategy to attract and retain jobs” is the title of the morning conference that will focus on the outlook for the economy and economic development in the North Bay.

The economic outlook conference began in the early ‘90s and has evolved into the university's signature business event.

This year, for the first time, there will be a special publication in connection with the conference that will highlight the school’s activities, programs and students.

“The Business Journal will bring its experience, expertise and economies of scale to the event’s management and planning processes while SBE will continue to organize the same great content upon which you have come to rely,” said Dr. William Silver, dean of the SSU School of Business and Economics.

The conference will open with Brian Sobel, principal consultant for Sobel Communications of Petaluma, who will talk about the political climate moving into the New Year.

Dr. Rob Eyler, chair of economics at Sonoma State University and director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis, will discuss the regional economy.

“Fiscal and monetary policy are on the forefront of everyone’s minds,” he said.

There will also be a panel, consisting of Emerson Estrada, director of expansion and retention at the Fresno Economic Development Corporation; Michael Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation; Naheed Ali of the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, and Tracey Grose, vice president of research and strategic development at Collaborative Economics in Mountain View.

They were chosen to participate, said Dr. Eyler, because they all are currently or have been involved with innovative programs on economic development in their areas.

The School of Business and Economics is in the beginning stages of creating an economic development corporation.

“It will be a resource for businesses in and coming to Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Lake, Mendocino and Solano counties,” Dr. Eyler said.

The conference will be from 7:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 25 at the Sheraton Sonoma County, Petaluma. To register or for further information, call the Business Journal at 707-521-5264.