SANTA ROSA -- The Business Performance Index for Sonoma County this winter increased from the summer rating to the first positive estimate of local business confidence since fall 2007, according to a report released this afternoon by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board.

The index for the winter months increased 9.6 percent from summer 2009 to 5.63.

"More than seven out of 10 surveyed executives reported expectations that the holiday retail season for local businesses was improved or unchanged from a year ago," the report said.

The seven-page report is available from the board's Web site.