Welcome to the North Bay Business Journal’s 11th Best Places to Work special section recognizing 98 companies and organizations from across the North Bay.

The recipients, who will be recognized at an awards reception Sept. 29, include 10, first-time winners: Beyers Costin Simon PC, Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty, Hanna Boys Center, Healdsburg Lumber Company, Oliver’s Markets, PsychStrategies, Inc., Solairius Aviation, Top Speed Data, Workrite Ergonomics, and YWCA Sonoma County.

A special congratulations goes to the 11-time winners: Burr Pilger Mayer, Exchange Bank, First Community Bank, Ghirardo CPA, Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Rosa Medical Center and San Rafael Medical Center, Redwood Credit Union and Valley Tire & Brake. These are eight very special organizations. To be selected any year is an achievement. To do so for 11 consecutive years is testimony to the enduring strength of these organizations.

This award started out humbly in 2006 with 24 winners. The concept was to recognize exceptional employers and highlight the best workplace practices.

This year’s recipients represent nearly 17,000 employees from a broad range of industries. More than 8,000 employee surveys were completed, a record.

Over these 11 years, we have learned that the award is important. But the award itself is only part of Best Places to Work.

The larger, long-term value is in the anonymous feedback of employees. Used expertly, this feedback can tell an organization where it is doing well and where it might improve.

And the designation can be an invaluable tool for employee attraction and retention.

On behalf of our co-hosts, Nelson, Exchange Bank and Kaiser Permanente, as well as our presenting sponsor Trope Group, congratulations to our winners.