Registration closes Wednesday for a conference on the economic toll of North Bay fires

Employees of Excel Site Services clean up burned debris at Mountain Mike's Pizza on Cleveland Ave on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California . (BETH SCHLANKER/The Press Democrat)


Registration closes Wednesday for an economic conference on the North Bay’s recovery.

The Business Journal’s 25th annual Sonoma State University Economic Outlook Conference Friday includes the first assessment of the full economic impact of the fires and local stories of resilience and rebuilding.

“A good friend told me recently that our region will never be the same — it will be better,” said Business Journal Publisher Brad Bollinger. “Yes, there will be serious economic issues to discuss at this conference, but there will also be stories about recovery and moving into the future.”

Sonoma State University economics professor and Dean Robert Eyler, Ph.D., will once again deliver his annual outlook for the North Bay along with an assessment of the financial impact of the fires in the immediate aftermath and moving forward into the recovery.

In addition, the conference will include “Stories of Resilience” from businesses that suffered losses in the fires, including Sonu Chandi, president and founder of the Chandi Hospitality Group; and Sonia Byck-Barwick, co-owner of the iconic Paradise Ridge Winery that was destroyed in the October firestorm. The new School of Business and Economics Dean Dr. Karen Thompson will moderate.

Also presenting will be Jennifer Gray Thompson, executive director of the Sonoma-based Rebuild Northbay Foundation, which is committed to “gathering the right business, community and environmental leaders to better prepare ourselves for the future. “

“Getting this recovery right is perhaps the most important task for the region since the 1906 earthquake,” Bollinger said. “If we get it wrong, we could suffer long-term damage to our economy and communities – think like the impact the loss of the timber and fisheries had on the North Coast. Get it right – better and safer – and we can thrive in the decades ahead.”

The event, from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park, is underwritten by Exchange Bank and sponsored by Empire College and the SSU School of Business and Economics. Tickets are $70 and a table of 10 with company sign is $715. To register go to or call 707-521-5261. Sponsorship information is also available.