Banking and Finance

Redwood Credit Union received preferred lender status from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through its preferred lender program. The designation allows Redwood Credit Union to streamline the loan process and provide faster approvals and funding to local small businesses in the North Bay and San Francisco. As an SBA preferred lender, Redwood will have the authority of approval, closing, servicing, and liquidation of SBA loans. In 2008, it became the first credit union in the North Bay to introduce SBA lending, and has consistently ranked among the top local SBA lenders for the past two years.Beer

Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur announced that its White Knuckle Double IPA was awarded Grand Champion in the Imperial/Red Ale Category of the United States Summer Beer Tasting Competition, where 447 total beers from 171 breweries were examined and judged across 15 categories.  At the 2011 Great American Beer Festival,  the brewery's 3 Flowers IPA was awarded a gold medal in the Rye Beer Category.Hospitality and Tourism

Flavor! Napa Valley has added Richard Blais, Bravo's "Top Chef All-Stars" 2011 winner, to its line-up of culinary stars, being held Nov. 17-20, 2011 in the Napa Valley. Mr. Blais will hold his cooking  session, "California Cuisine: Reinterpreted" demonstration on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 2:30pm to 3:30pm at the Culinary Institute at Greystone, St. Helena, CA. Pricing for the event is $95.00 per person. A graduate of the event's beneficiary, The Culinary Institute of America, Blais also studied under renowned Napa Valley chef Thomas Keller.Government

Sonoma County has ranked first statewide again this year in volunteerism, according to a Corporation for National and Community Service report. A total of 36.1 percent of local residents volunteer on a regular basis, over 10 percent more than most other California communities. And 145,000 people volunteer regularly throughout the county, for hundreds of local nonprofit agencies. To see all the rankings, please go to to the Volunteering in America website. A total of 24.8 percent of California residents volunteer - ranking it 36th among the 50 states and Washington, DC.