The chart in a recent post below tells the North Bay jobs story, tracking the percent change year-over-year employment in Sonoma County since January 2001. The most encouraging news is that for the first time since January 2008, Sonoma County had more jobs in December than the previous year.

The punishing job losses -- which had been lessening for months -- may finally be over.

But it is not time to rest on jobs. All told, Sonoma County alone lost more than 20,000 jobs in the recession, far exceeding the telecom bust that began late in 2001.

In fact, it’s time now to accelerate efforts to create and retain jobs for the North Bay rather than let them slip away to a more competitive region as the economy gains steam, and it clearly is.

Two companies -- and there are many more as the Manufacturing special report in this issue demonstrates -- are among those showing the way.

Speaking this week to the Sonoma County Alliance monthly meeting, Douglas Clark, CEO and founder of project management software creator Metier, and Steven Harrison, chief financial officer of medical-device maker TriVascular, agreed the region has the ingredients to grow jobs and economic vitality – but it needs the recipe to bring them together.

Mr. Clark’s company actually selected Santa Rosa to locate a new office after an exhaustive national search.

What attracted him here was the availability of affordable space, nearness to the Bay Area and lifestyle amenities that appeal to youngish software engineers.

Mr. Clark has raised the concept of “300-tens,” that is, attracting or creating enough small companies to account for 3,000 new jobs.

These companies are likely to come in the tech space, iPhone apps, for instance.

But their young workforce will want a centralized, vibrant restaurant and entertainment district close to where they live. Sonoma County has some of that, but needs more, Mr. Clark and Mr. Harrison agreed.

Mr. Harrison’s company, which has raised $140 million in venture capital, said the new workforce also wants a fun and innovative work environment.

Add in flexible workspaces where companies can grow and contract as needed, plus some local venture funding and the region will have the right ingredients to attract and retain the people behind exciting new small ventures, Mr. Clark said. TriVascular, in fact, started in Sonoma County because its founders wanted to be here.

There have to be many like Metier and TriVascular -- perhaps they are looking for a new location as you read this -- but they have to know we want them and have what they need to be successful.

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Brad Bollinger is Business Journal editor in chief and associate publisher. He can be reached at 707-521-4251 or bbollinger@busjrnl.com.