Welcome to the Business Journal’s sixth Best Places to Work in the North Bay.

The record 67 companies selected this year and featured on these pages are once again inspirational and instructional, providing the North Bay with key benchmarks for what makes a company a great place to work.

We are especially pleased that along with an impressive group of 15 new winners, seven truly exceptional companies out of 24 winners at the start of the awards in 2006 have returned as honorees for a sixth consecutive year.

The winners, representing a broad range of industries, including banking, wine, engineering, technology, health care, insurance, accounting, consulting, entertainment, food manufacturing, automotive, landscaping and building, will be feted at an awards reception Thursday.

Once again, congratulations to our winners. They have shown exceptional character during a very difficult time for all businesses. Many of the nearly 5,000 employee responses to the question in this year’s survey, “How has your company dealt with the challenging business environment?” are inspiring. We hope you gain insight from reading these company stories as much as we did finding and telling them.Brad Bollinger, Editor in Chief, Associate Publisher