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San Francisco North Bay business briefs: Week of Aug. 24, 2015

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Education

Sonoma State University housing has again been ranked as one of the best college dorms in the nation by The Princeton Review. Taking the No. 12 spot, SSU's residential community provides housing for 3,100 students and is comprised of six residential villages.

Government

Another major milestone in the Napa River-Napa Creek Flood Protection Project was reached with the grand opening of the Napa River Dry Bypass on Aug. 4. The bypass is projected to enhance flood protection for an additional 2,700 homes and 350 businesses in the city of Napa. The completion of the bypass comes after 17 years of efforts by the Napa County Flood Control District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Napa to reduce flood dangers, provide ecosystem restoration, increase open space and recreation, and stimulate the economy. The project cost $18.5 million in federal and Measure A funds, which allow the funding of projects to improve flood protection, water supply and the health of the watershed. The quarter-mile-long bypass, which extends from the Oxbow area to the confluence with Napa Creek, will convey a large portion of the Napa River flows during a flood event around the Oxbow reach. Because the bypass will remain dry throughout most of the year, public access and recreation during non-flood periods will be available. The bypass area will include a trail and walkway system to provide access to recreational facilities and additional space for public events.

The county of Sonoma's Women-Infants-Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) agency was one of only five agencies to receive the Loving Support Award of Excellence at the Gold Premiere level from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is the highest award for a breastfeeding program in the country given out this year. It is the only agency in the Western region to receive this prestigious award. Breastfeeding is the preferred choice for all mothers and their infant children due to the immense health benefits, promoting a stronger link between the mother and her infant, and helping the infant mature and grow.

Finance

Novato-based Hennessy Advisors, Inc. (NASDAQ: HNNA) reported fully diluted earnings per share of $0.56 for the third fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2015, a record high for the firm and an increase of 60% over the prior comparable quarter ended June 30, 2014. Quarterly revenue totaled $12 million, an increase of 36% from $8.8 million for the prior comparable period. From June 30, 2014 to June 30, 2015, total assets under management increased 13%, while average assets under management, upon which revenue is calculated, increased by 24%. The increase in assets under management is attributable to both positive net inflows and positive investment performance of the family of mutual funds managed by Hennessy Advisors. Additionally, the Board of Directors of Hennessy Advisors today declared a quarterly dividend of $0.06 per share. This quarterly dividend will be paid on September 10, 2015 to shareholders of record as of August 18, 2015.

Health Care

Sonoma State University's Nursing Transition into Practice Certificate Program started three years ago with 38 students. On August 24th, 109 students will be completing the 10-week course that has a 98 percent job placement rate. The 10-week program places students into an internship at one of eight participating hospitals in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties. One of the requirements for hospitals to participate in the program is that they offer a job after a successful internship. Students from beyond SSU are part of the program, but only students from the region are selected in order to help the local economy. The program accepts applicants who have graduated within 18 months of the start of the session.

ProTransport-1, a Cotati-based leader in the interfacility medical transportation market, and Regional Medical Center of San Jose unveiled their latest venture, a dedicated sprinter ambulance, on July 30 on hospital grounds. The brand new, private-label ambulance was custom designed to meet the needs of patients as well as medical professionals providing various levels of care. The sprinter ambulance is capable of delivering on-the-go care from EMTs, paramedics and nurses to patients requiring transport to or from the hospital.

Marin Community Clinics (MCC) announced that it is now offering radiology services at its Kerner Blvd. clinic in San Rafael. It is the only community clinic in the Redwood Community Health Coalition, comprised of 17 community health centers located in Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Yolo counties, to provide this service on site. Services will include a broad array of general x-rays for both adults and children, including chest and limb x-rays. Other diagnostic procedures, such as ultrasound, are being explored for the future. To start, services will be offered four hours/day, three days/week; hours of operation will be expanded as volume increases. The service will also be available at the clinics' Novato location in early 2016, when facility expansion at that site is completed.

Empire Eye Doctors, a prominent eye care practice in Santa Rosa since 1956, has recently teamed up with Northern California Medical Associates' Eye Care Institute. Empire Eye Doctors' care team includes two ophthalmologists, David Lightfoot, M.D. and Dan Lightfoot, M.D., and an optometrist, Stewart Wolfe, O.D. The Eye Care Institute's eye care team includes Robert L. Anderson, M.D., Gary Barth, M.D., Daniel Rich, M.D., Bruce Abramson, O.D., Kalane Wong, M.D. and Esther Penn, M.D. Empire Eye Doctors are taking on the NCMA/ECI name and will maintain their current address at 720 4th Street in Santa Rosa. NCMA/ECI have offices located at 1017 2nd Street in Santa Rosa and in Petaluma at 1383 McDowell Blvd #100. The list of services offered includes: Eye exams, cataract, and corneal surgery, glaucoma treatment, laser vision correction, cosmetic services, contact lenses, and full-service optical shops.

Hospitality

Walnut Creek-based Bay Area Development Company announced that it has completed 504 funding for Chelinos Mexican Restaurant in Santa Rosa. The financing allowed the restaurant owners to create two new, local jobs and to purchase a 2,856 square foot building located at 1079 Fourth Street in Santa Rosa. Brothers Fernando and Jose Barragan opened Pepe's Mexican Restaurant in Santa Rosa in 2002 with their partner, Jose Rodriguez. In 2006, the Barragans bought out Rodriguez and changed the restaurant's name to Chelinos Mexican Restaurant. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the brothers focus on authentic tastes at affordable prices.

Insurance

EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants, a retail property, casualty insurance brokerage and employee benefits consultant, has been ranked #23 among the nation's largest insurance brokers by Business Insurance Magazine. EPIC climbed 21 spots from #44 to #23 in the Business Insurance 100 Largest Brokers of U.S. Business annual rankings. This ranking is based on 2014 revenue of $151,724,409 and is a 108% increase over 2013. Specialty practice areas served by EPIC include financial institutions; energy construction; architecture, engineering and law frms; real estate; healthcare; non-profits; transportation and logistics; and employee benefits consulting, including ACA compliance, benefits and HR technology, employee communication, wellness and the EPIC exchange platform (EXP). EPIC has North Bay offices in Petaluma and San Rafael.

Nonprofits

Northern Sonoma County Healthcare Foundation's third annual Wine Women & Shoes event in July at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens in Sonoma County raised over $575,000 to support foundation operations and programs, according to preliminary reports. An estimated 430 women and men brought their best friends to support healthcare and shop. Top Sonoma County wineries poured, chefs brought their best nibbles and local boutiques donated 20% of their proceeds to the cause. Attendees learned about critical issues facing healthcare needs including community clinics, dental clinics, local hospitals, school programs and community-based speaker series on healthcare. The fund-a-need donations to the Clinic and Healthy Farm Worker Family Fund helped keep quality healthcare close to home.

The Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children's Charities (SCC) is now accepting grant applications from Sonoma County non-profit groups for its 2015 grant cycle. SCC, the charitable arm of Sonoma Raceway, hosts events throughout the year to raise funds for distribution to Sonoma County non-profit groups. The chapter has distributed more than $4.8 million to Sonoma County youth groups since 2001. Applicants must be non-profit groups serving Sonoma County, which are tax exempt for federal (and state, if applicable) income tax purposes. To focus efforts on Sonoma County youth in need, priority is given to programs that concentrate on health and nutrition, basic family services (e.g. safety, shelter, etc.) and leadership (e.g. mentoring, gang prevention, etc.). The 2015 SCC Grant Application can be found online at www.sonoma.speedwaycharities.org/grant. Applications must be completed and returned to Sonoma Raceway by Sept. 28. For questions or more information, contact Cheri Plattner at CPlattner@racesonoma.com or 707-933-3950.

Real Estate

San Ramon-based Meridian, a full service real estate developer and owner of medical real estate, announced that it has completed construction of a 10,652 square foot medical clinic located on a 17,000 square foot site at 1415 Third Street in San Rafael. This was a ground-up urban infill development project that began with full demolition of the original existing building. DaVita Healthcare Partners will occupy the entire building. Mereidian noted that there is a big push by medical providers to have locations with access that is convenient for their patients and offer visibility to help them gain market share. Since the site couldn't support a 4/1000 parking ratio, Meridian purchased the neighboring historic Victorian triplex and reverted the triplex into a single-family home, which was sold, and changed the lot line to provide the additional land for the medical/office building parking.

Technology

Sausalito-based Sitecore, the global leader in customer experience management, announced that it has placed highest in 'ability to execute' by Gartner, Inc. in its July 29, 2015 'Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management' for the first time ever, relative to all other participating WCM vendors. The evaluation criteria for a vendor's ability to execute included product/service, overall viability, sales execution/pricing, market responsiveness and track record, marketing execution, customer experience and operations. Criteria for completeness of vision included market understanding, marketing strategy, sales strategy, product strategy, business model, vertical/industry strategy, innovation and geographic strategy. Sitecore has landed in the leadership quadrant for the sixth consecutive year.

Wine

Petaluma-based OFFbeat Brands is launching Tie-Dye Red Blend, a wine that takes its design and winemaking inspiration from the counterculture era of the 1960s. Featuring a vividly colorful label with iconography reminiscent of San Francisco's Summer of Love, Tie-Dye Red Blend takes the popular concept of the fruit-driven red blend to its most expressive level, combining seven red varietals grown in prime coastal growing regions, each bringing a distinctive flavor and textural characteristic to the wine. Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, the wine combines Syrah, Barbera, Merlot, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Syrah in a flamboyantly fruity blend with notes of spicy oak and a mouth-coating texture that is soft and supple.

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