SANTA ROSA -- A public-private Sonoma County partnership aimed at spurring job growth plans to survey 100 local businesses in as many days on what they need to stay and thrive in the county.[poll id="7"]

Poll runs through March 13. NBBJ Pulse Poll is sponsored by Empire College.

Sonoma County Building Economic Success Together, or BEST, calls the "100 in 100" program a "strategic business retention and expansion effort" of the organization that was founded about a year ago as a means to address persistent unemployment. This latest effort, set to launch by the end of this month and wrap up July 1, seeks to build on already-established sectors of the local economy.

"Our imbedded base of industry here in Sonoma County is most likely where additional jobs and investment will be created," said Carolyn Stark, executive director of  Sonoma County BEST. "Our goal is to concentrate our efforts first on our existing business and find ways we can help them expand as well as work to resolve issues preventing job growth."

According to the organization, "100 in 100" priorities are identifying expansion opportunities for Sonoma County businesses and discovering businesses that are "vulnerable to relocation outside the region." Other goals include the collection of business success stories, finding out how local and state regulations may be affecting growth and gathering input for business-recruitment efforts.

Other cities have similar, successful efforts in job retention and creation, according to BEST. The Virginia city of Richmond attributes 1,045 new jobs and $68 million in new capital investment over five years to its program. Sonoma County BEST plans to create 2,500 jobs over the next five years and said this latest effort is the first such countywide job-retention and -creation program.

"We are building teams from throughout Sonoma County to be the 100 in 100 interview team," said Anthy O'Brien, chief executive officer of Top Speed Data in Petaluma and chairwoman of the BEST committee conducting the outreach effort. "These volunteers are business people themselves, and likely will be able to connect with the company they are interviewing in ways the public sector may not be able to on their own."

Sonoma County BEST ( is a nonprofit operating under the umbrella of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. BEST raised $3.25 million to get off the ground in 2011 from an array of businesses and local governments.