Dominican University's Venture Greenhouse in San Rafael officially opened Wednesday with the goal of becoming a hub for green business in Marin County.

The opening event filled the 4,800-square foot space, with many roaming through the office area to learn more about the eight companies currently calling the incubator/accelerator program home.

San Rafael Mayor Albert J. Boro helped cut the ceremonial ribbon with Dominican University President Mary B. Marcy, noting the new program will be a good complement to other programs helping to support business in the city.

[caption id="attachment_41815" align="alignright" width="350" caption="The Venture Greenhouse at Dominican"][/caption]

"I'm very proud, and the city is very proud, to be a partner with Dominican," said Mr. Boro.

Also speaking at the event were greenhouse Director John Stayton, President Mary Marcy, and director of sustainability at Autodesk, Lynelle Cameron. (For more about the center, see our Education special report on p. 13.)***

Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute has announced a series of fall classes for its Tasting Room Management Certificate Program.

The classes, which can be taken individually or towards a full certificate, include subjects like Social Media and Wine Marketing and The Experts’ Secret to Selling Wine Grapes.

A full certificate requires that three core courses and five electives be taken. The three core topics are Building a Profitable Wine Club, Current and Upcoming Winery Compliance Issues, both on Oct. 21, and Introduction to Tasting Room Management on Oct. 28.

In addition to the new classes, students can now enroll in an online version of the Wine Business Management program. The deadline for enrollment is Oct. 21.

There are no prerequisites for the program, and classes are $150 each. Contact Marcia Harringan at 707-664-3011 to enroll or visit***

Extracurricular activities at Santa Rosa middle and high schools will receive a financial boost after the volunteer fundraising organization Schools Plus held its second-annual “A Night Under the Lights” event on Sept. 24.

The organization raised $110,000 while auctioning items like a full set of braces, wine and several vacation packages.

The largest single donation was from Celebrate Community/The Press Democrat, at $12,000, according to Schools Plus President Ashley Haskins.

The money raised beat last year’s total of $100,000, but gains were largely achieved though cost savings at the organization, said Schools Plus's John Bribiescas. Donations were actually less in 2011.

“I think that’s a reflection from the economy ... with nonprofits, it’s across the board that it hasn’t been the same kind of year,” he said.

This year, the organization has highlighted donations to Maria Carrillo High School’s culinary program and Santa Rosa High School’s floral program.

Since forming in 1991, Schools Plus has donated more than $2 million to the city’s schools....To submit items for this column contact Business Journal staff writer Eric Gneckow at 521-4259 or