[caption id="attachment_43079" align="alignright" width="299" caption="Carolyn Stark"][/caption]

SONOMA COUNTY -- The Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce has appointed Carolyn Stark as executive director of the  Building Economic Success Together program, a countywide economic development organization created to spur job growth while making Sonoma County  more economically competitive.

The BEST program was formed last year under the umbrella of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. Its  strategic plan calls for the creation of more than 2,500 direct jobs and 4,100 total jobs over a five-year period.

“One of the most important things within a community is to have good jobs,” Ms. Stark said. “BEST represents a terrific collaborative effort to create these for Sonoma County, and I am excited to be asked to take this initiative to the next level.”

Ms. Stark will start on Dec.1.

Her career has been focused on promoting economic growth and community vitality, according to the chamber. Most recently, she was in the Coachella Valley in the Palm Springs area. While there she helped create the region’s long-term economic strategy to diversify the economy, develop workforce excellence through improved education, promote regionalism and preserve the "quality of place" in the Coachella Valley, according to the chamber.

Ms. Stark was also CEO of the Austin Technology Council, a nonprofit organization of business, community and government leaders that worked together to promote the growth and expansion of the technology business sector in Texas in the post-dot-com economy.

In 2007, Ms. Stark founded the Desert Lyceum at University of California, Riverside, in collaboration with Riverside County Supervisor S. Roy Wilson. The purpose of the Desert Lyceum was to bring together community  in the public and private sectors to explore issues of consequence to the future of the Coachella Valley.

The Desert Lyceum sought to emphasize constructive private sector, public sector and individual responses to these issues with the larger purpose of smart planning for growth and enrichment of the Coachella Valley and to help bring a better understanding of these issues to key decision makers.

Ms. Stark also served as the director of business development for Stanford University, from 1988 to 1998, where she developed business relationships between industry and the School of Engineering.

“We had a national search for the BEST executive director, and Carolyn’s experience in Silicon Valley, Austin, and recently in the Palm Springs area -- being a catalyst for getting community leaders to create productive and prosperous economic conditions -- was exceptional,” said Jonathan Coe, Santa Rosa Chamber president and CEO. 

BEST has raised approximately $2.4 million in cash and about $700,000  in in-kind donations, according to the chamber.

“BEST has brought together leaders from both private and public sectors in an effort to stimulate job growth in Sonoma County, and we are excited to be moving into the next phase with Carolyn’s experience and leadership,” said Carl Campbell, a Kaiser Permanente spokesman and chairman of the chamber board for 2011.

The chamber projects big gains from the plan for the region -- $155 million in consumer expenditures, $37 million in state and local tax revenues, $87 million in bank deposits, $268 million in payroll earnings and $182 million in disposable income.