Please answer the following multiple-choice question:

Question: The North Bay is home to the following:

A. A maker of key components used in DNA sequencing.

B. A leading supplier of rugged, high-quality electrical connectors and cables for offshore oil platforms and other industrial uses.

C. One of the world's leading suppliers of tiny precision tools and components used in the semiconductor and medical device industries.

D. A maker of high-quality guitar pickups used by many well-known musicians.

E. The largest small-animal watering device manufacturer in the world.

F. A high level of awareness among the public, education and political leadership of the region's manufacturing assets and their needs.

Select one answer:All of the aboveNone of the aboveA through EShare your thoughts

Are North Bay and state leaders doing enough to sustain a strong local manufacturing base?

Leave your comments and take the NBBJ Pulse Poll. This poll ends July 24.

If you selected A through E, you are correct: The North Bay is home to all of these manufacturing enterprises that together provide hundreds of high-paying jobs both skilled and unskilled. (The companies, IDEX Health & Science, ITT BIW Connector Systems, Small Precision Tools, EMG, Inc. and Lixit Corporation are profiled in the July 16 edition.) But the public and political awareness of these important regional manufacturing assets is  not what it should be.

North Bay Business Journal selected 13 North Bay companies for the 2012 Top Manufacturers Awards from more than 40 nominations.

The winners produce products ranging from foods to animal care to high- tech and medical products. The companies range in size from just a few dozen employees to several hundred. Some are young companies, while others have widely recognized names.

The Journal also is recognizing a program of the local manufacturing association 101mfg called “100 in 100″ designed to bring high school students into companies to observe and in some cases fill internships.

Enter the Business Journal's Top Manufacturers Awards, which culminate in an awards reception Thursday evening at the Sonoma Mountain Village Event Center. (Register online or call 707-521-5264). These awards are designed to, yes, honor these important employers and to provide opportunities for them to network among themselves and perhaps find ways meet their common challenges and collaborate. But they also are intended to increase public awareness of the major role these enterprises play in the regional economy.

Our awards underwriters, Bank of Marin and Burr Pilger Mayer Accountants and Consultants, understand the importance of a strong regional manufacturing base and have supported many of this year's 13 award recipients with their finance and other expertise. And the organization of North Bay manufacturers, 101MFG, has been a key partner in the awards and is committed to a healthy future for manufacturing.

But even with this level of support, much more needs to be done on multiple fronts from education to collaboration. Through its "100 in 100" program -- one of the honorees at our awards reception Thursday evening -- 101MFG is introducing high school students to the career opportunities at local companies. Meanwhile, 101MFG has undertaken a study of how the local manufacturers can collaboratively capture work and supply sourcing that is now going outside the region. If successful, the effort could mean tens of millions of dollars in business and jobs for the region.

All this is happening at the same time many companies that moved operations overseas are starting to come back. "Onshoring," as it is called, is a very real response to the uncertainties and disappearing cost advantages of doing business in faraway developing economies. Meanwhile, the development of "3D printing" technology has the potential to transform small-scale manufacturing.

The North Bay is uniquely positioned to benefit from these trends. But it must capture the moment and the opportunity.•••

Brad Bollinger is the Business Journal's editor and associate publisher. He can be reached at 707-521-4251 or bbollinger@busjrnl.com.