The North Bay Business Journal this Thursday will be awarding 11 companies in its third annual Top Manufacturers in the North Bay Awards.

“We are proud to once again shine light on this critical economic sector,” said Business Journal Editor and Publisher Brad Bollinger. “Virtually every one of these outstanding companies export their products across the U.S. and abroad, a key driver of regional economic vitality. And contrary to the pervasive perception that manufacturing has left the region, it is in fact alive and growing. Indeed, some of the most advanced manufacturing anywhere is done here right alongside some of the most innovative specialty goods makers.”

The 2013 recipients range high technology giants such as Agilent Technologies to a small but influential project-management software company.

A special award this year goes to Dan Sunia, manufacturing technology teacher at Petaluma High School as well as president and program coordinator for the California Tooling & Machining Apprenticeship Association. A 30-year veteran machinist, he began his career at the former U.S. Navy shipyard at Mare Island in Vallejo and has been running the high school’s metal shop for 10 years. A number of shop students later enrolled at Cal Poly or entered machinist apprenticeship programs.

The Petaluma High shop last fall was one of only 15 workforce-prep programs nationwide to receive a $45,000, three-year Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education grant from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation.

The 2013 award winners by category are (click on the name for details):Community: Agilent Technologies, Santa RosaCoolest: Moose Boats, PetalumaCustomer Focus: Loring SmartRoast, Santa RosaEnvironment: Traditional Medicinals, SebastopolGrowth: Truett-Hurst, HealdsburgIndustry Leadership: KVAL, PetalumaInnovation: R.S. Technical Services, PetalumaQuality: The Barricade Company, Santa RosaSpecialty Foods: Pamela’s Products, UkiahSoftware: Metier, HealdsburgSupplier: Empire West, GratonSpecial Award: Dan Sunia, Petaluma High School and California Tooling & Machining Apprenticeship Association