NORTH BAY -- The Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics' 17th annual economic outlook conference, "The Time is Now: Developing a regional strategy to attract and retain jobs,” will be Feb. 25 at the Sheraton in Petaluma.

Produced in collaboration with the Business Journal, registration is at 7:30 a.m. and the program from 8 a.m. to noon. Tickets are $49 per person and include continental breakfast. To register, contact Linda Perkins at or 707-521-5264, or register online at

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 and give his annual forecast.

A panel discussion will further examine the importance of a regional approach to economic development and attraction and retention of jobs. The panel will feature Emerson Estrada, director of expansion and retention at the Fresno Economic Development Corp.; Michael Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corp.; 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.

Brian Pretti, senior vice president at Mechanics Bank, will close the program with an outlook for 2010. Mr. Pretti heads the investment management group responsible for managing $1.4 billion of client assets.

This year, for the first time, there will also be a special publication in connection with the conference that will highlight the school’s activities, programs and students. It will be published as a supplement to the March 1 issue of the Business Journal.