With thousands of new homes on track to be built and with the attention-getting Green Music Center and Graton Rancheria casino on opposite sides of the city, Rohnert Park is poised to be at the center of Sonoma County housing, cultural and entertainment development for years to come.
The city's future, along with the release of the inaugural Business Journal-Summit State Bank countywide Business Climate Survey and a report on the expansion of the Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport, will be the focus at the Business Journal's annual Impact Sonoma Conference from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. Oct. 16 at the Sonoma Mountain Village Event Center.
"The developments in Rohnert Park, which have implications for the entire county, are flying largely under the radar," said Business Journal Publisher Brad Bollinger. "Between Sonoma Mountain Village's environmental commitment and University Park across from Sonoma State University, these are some of the most forward-thinking, important housing projects to come forth in a decade or more.
"Meanwhile, the world-class Green Music Center is a transformational project for the arts at SSU and the entire region. Throw in the thousands of visitors the casino will attract, and you have a recipe for enormous change in the center of the county."
Impact Sonoma panelists will include Lori Nelson, vice president of corporate communications for Station Casinos, the operator of Graton Resort & Casino; Marilyn Ponton, development services manager for the city of Rohnert Park; Dan Condron, vice president of University Affairs for SSU; Brad Baker, CEO and president of Codding Investments, the owner of the 200-plus-acre Sonoma Mountain Village development, and a top-level representative from Brookfield Homes, the developer of the 1,400 University Park.
In addition to the panel, Airport Manager Jon Stout and Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire will detail how the $53.8 million runway expansion project now underway likely will mean the addition of new destinations. Those possibilities include Denver, a major hub for travelers and a key destination for employers such as the region's largest high-tech employer, Agilent Technologies.
The Journal's first-ever Sonoma County Business Climate Survey will measure how businesses feel about the economy, hiring, access to talent and the regulatory environment. Summit State Bank President and CEO Tom Duryea and Sonoma County Economic Development Board Executive Director Ben Stone will be on hand to analyze the results.
"We had a very strong response to the survey," Mr. Bollinger said. "The results show businesses are gaining confidence. And despite conventional wisdom about the challenges of doing business in Sonoma County, nearly 70 percent of respondents rated the overall business climate as favorable or very favorable. That bodes well."
Nonetheless, businesses said they face challenges on hiring, primarily in finding the talent they need locally.
The conference is underwritten by Summit State Bank. Cost is $49 per person or $425 for a table of eight. To register, go to NorthBayBusinessJournal.com or call Linda Perkins at 707-521-5264.