Venture capital flows for energy, other technologies; big boost for Napa tourismIt's not even a close call on the top story of 2010. It was the economy -- the persistent 10 percent unemployment, public fiscal crises and struggling real estate markets -- that weighed on the North Bay.
But as is always the case, it wasn’t all bad. As one can see reading the comments of experts on the economy and employment in this issue, there were many successes in 2010. The stock market has touched two-year highs. Strong companies today have huge stocks of cash and the future in energy, medical and communications technology are bright spots across the North Bay.
And the economic and employment experts are unanimous that 2011 will be better. They are going confidently, if cautiously, forward. And while doing so, it never hurts to remember the major developments in 2010 that brought the North Bay to the New Year.
So here are the Business Journal’s Top 10 Stories of 2010:
No. 1: The economy.
No. 2: Boom in medical facilities.
Just as Kaiser Permanente was completing a five-story hospital tower and new emergency facility, Sutter Health broke ground for a new hospital in Santa Rosa.
Meanwhile, health centers that serve the under-and-uninsured were expanding rapidly from Santa Rosa Community Health Centers’ new Vista facility to other community clinics in Petaluma and Napa.
The total value of all of the projects was north of $500 million.
---Business Journal Staff Report
No. 3: The communications, energy, medical device and research technology sectors were among the bright spots of the North Bay economy in 2010.
Agilent Technologies’ Electronic Measurement Group reported fourth-quarter revenues up 35 percent from a year ago, the strongest growth the Santa Rosa division has shown in 10 years, according to group President Ron Nersesian.
Calix raised $100 million in debt and equity funding in June. The amount was the largest raised by a North Bay company in 10 years. In November, the Petaluma maker of broadband access equipment filed for an initial public offering, raising another $82 million.
Meanwhile, solar microinverter systems maker Enphase Energy in Petaluma closed a venture capital round of $40 million in March of this year, and another round of $63 million in June, for a total of $146 million since it was founded in 2008.
In July, abdominal stent graft maker TriVascular, announced new investment funding of $60 million, bringing the Santa Rosa company’s total funding since its restart two years ago to $155 million. TriVascular will add 100 to its staff as a result of the new funding. The year saw the launch of its first product in Europe.
Other technology companies such as Petaluma laser startup Raydiance were also poised for growth.
And in Marin County, the Buck Institute for Age Research announced in April it planned to sell tax-free bonds to the amount of $30 million toward the construction of a $41 million, 65,000-square-foot stem cell laboratory, partially funded by $20.5 from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The showcase lab is expected to be completed during 2011.