2023 Accomplishments

At NBLC we rise to meet the challenges.  The mission of NBLC is to advocate for sound public policy.  Addressing the issues facing employers is our core work and reason for existence.  We are here to be at the table devising solutions and fighting for sound public policy that will help our region be prosperous, innovative, and sustainable.  We represent you at every level of government and collaborate and build coalitions whenever we can.  We are committed to a more equitable future where diversity and inclusion are encouraged and respected.

Major Accomplishments

  • Hired a new CEO, Joanne Webster, to take NBLC to the next level.
  • Advocated for more than 10 bills to address the housing crisis that were signed by the Governor.
  • Participated in the updating and adoption of the housing elements in Marin and Sonoma counties and the larger cities within those counties.
  • Joined the campaign for the regional housing bond measure in both Marin and Sonoma and worked to improve the contents of the measure to get more housing built.
  • Led the effort to get funding for Hwy. 37 improvements through tolling and the Federal infrastructure package as well as fought for the improvements to be done in phases as the money is available.
  • Worked with other business groups to allow commuters to use the third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge during commute hours and for improvements on the exit of the bridge to the Marin side of I 580.
  • Worked with SMART proponents to begin working on renewing the sales tax measure that expires in 2029.
  • Worked in collaboration with other employer-oriented groups to support the business community and economy at the state and regional level, including the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, California Forward, REAL Coalition, California Stewardship Network, New California Coalition, Bay Area Council, 21ST Century Alliance and California Jobs First regional planning group.
  • Raised urgency of childcare crisis and successfully obtained more funding and accommodations at the state level. Successfully got the Governor to include in the FY 2023-24 budget support of Early Care and Education (ECE) rates and for the adoption of a new family fee schedule that is more equitable and will enable more families to stay in subsidized ECE programs.
  • Sent and/or signed on to over 100 letters regarding support or opposition to legislation, projects, policies at all levels of government. The areas of advocacy were housing, transportation, CEQA reform, water and energy resiliency, climate change adaptation and wildfire resiliency, regulations and permitting, childcare and early child education, education (from Pre-K to higher ed), Career Technical Education, and workforce development and training, and apprenticeships.
  • Produced the Leaders of the North Bay Awards Luncheon, State of the North Bay Conference, four Board Meetings, four Good Government Get Togethers, seven Member Forums, and four Business Edge Breakfast Briefings, Summer Social, plus hosted and sponsored numerous meetings and events.
  • Our State of the North Bay Conference provided original research on the North Bay economic ecosystem as we looked forward to 2024 and spotlighted the growth in entrepreneurism as a great opportunity to create jobs and have companies scale up in the North Bay.
  • Continued building support and understanding for more workforce and affordable housing by working collaboratively with coalitions in Marin and Sonoma counties; chaired the Marin Housing Crisis Action and advocated for project approvals in Marin and Sonoma Counties and hosted workshops on advocating for more housing, supporting new housing elements and efforts in the North Bay to streamline housing approvals and remove barriers. Worked on building support for employer-provided housing and for more accessory and junior accessory dwelling units throughout the North Bay. Successfully supported state legislation to allow for more density in in-fill development, reduction in parking requirements, and building housing on commercial land and church property. Successfully advocated for more affordable housing to be built in dense areas in the North Bay.
  • Continued serving as Chair of the REAL Coalition’s Education and Workforce Development Committee.
  • Collaborated with business organizations in the North Bay for increased economic competitiveness, job creation and more training of workforce to have skills needed to fill job vacancies; helped do polling of employers on return to the office looking at remote working and transit use.
  • Continued advocacy for expansion and improvement of broadband network in the North Bay.
  • CEO gave speeches, moderated panels, wrote opinion pieces and was a resource to members, employers and the community.
  • NBLC and the President/CEO received media coverage on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, blogs and newsletters.
  • Produced 12 issues of Policy Watch newsletter and grew subscriptions by 5%.
  • Managed social media on Facebook, LinkedIn and X (Twitter).

Showcased Members

  • Broadcasted members good news and leadership in Policy Watch, website, blog and social media.
  • Showcased Board members in the Profiles in Leadership feature on the website.
  • Provided members speaking opportunities at events, board meetings and forums.

Proactive on Public Policy Issues

Produced NBLC Member Forums on Hot Topics of interest:

Held seven Forums on these topics: Canine Companions, Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa, CEQA Reform, Commercial Real Estate, Reparations, Sonoma County Winegrowers, Sonoma State’s incoming president Mike Lee.

In Housing, NBLC:

  • Chaired Housing Crisis Action in Marin. Held Housing summit, meetings and workshops to build the political will for more housing in Marin and support policies, regulations and legislation to enable more housing to be created.
  • Continued to raise awareness and bring the North Bay together to confront the housing crisis by writing opinion pieces in newspapers and Policy Watch
  • Successfully advocated for new housing project approvals in the North Bay, sending numerous letters of support and speaking at hearings. Most of which were approved.
  • Held meetings with developers of new housing projects to provide feedback and support for moving forward.
  • Supported numerous housing bills for new housing funding and removing barriers to construction at the state level.
  • Met with housing advocates and formed coalitions to partner on housing legislation, regulations, permitting, zoning, housing bonds, etc.
  • Supported cities and counties adopting of new regulations to streamline creating accessory and junior accessory units.
  • Monitored North Bay jurisdictions updates of their housing elements to include higher housing quotas and realistic identification of land on which housing could be built.

In Education, NBLC:

  • Supported streamlining of transfers from Community Colleges to CSUs and UCs; allowing CSUs to grant doctoral degrees; universal screening for dyslexia; stopping book banning; adding curriculum on climate change; and opened the door to more teacher recruitment.
  • Supported Early Childcare and Education programs in the region and at the state level as chair of REAL Coalition Education and Workforce Development Committee and member of the California Preschool Business Advisory Council. Restarted garnering support for a sales tax in Sonoma County to fund early childcare and education programs and facilities to go on the ballot in 2024.
  • Advocated for continuing implementation of transitional kindergarten and preschool for all children at the state and local level.
  • Collaborated on how to close the achievement gap and digital divide for students of color.
  • Served on the board for the Barowsky School of Business and the LePage Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Dominican University
  • Participated in the Marin School to Careers Partnership.
  • Participated in the Northern California Apprenticeship Network meetings.

In Economic Competitiveness, NBLC:

  • CEO is working on a variety of fronts to improve workforce readiness including helping more students get post-secondary education and training, reskilling/upskilling existing workers, building a web of educators, employers, government, and labor to anticipate job displacement and preparation for skills needed for job creation. Workforce displacement and the need for training/education are one of our biggest challenges.
  • Through the Healthy Marin Partnership, helped form a program to train more health care workers.
  • Serves on the Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute’s board, Bay Area Business Coalition, REAL Coalition, California Stewardship Network, 21st Century Alliance, and CA FWD and advocated for economic resilience at state and regional level.
  • Partners with the heads of the business organizations in Marin County and Sonoma County to exchange ideas about creating jobs and improving the local economy and meet with County Supervisors and other elected officials.
  • Co-produced four Business Edge Briefings in partnership with Dominican University’s Institute of Leadership Studies.

In Transportation, NBLC:

  • Advocated for tolling on Hwy. 37 to fund the improvements needed; opening up the third lane to commuters on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge; and supported the renewal of the sales tax that funds SMART
  • Supported the Governor’s plan to expedite approval and construction of essential water, transportation, climate, and other infrastructure projects across California, consisting of a package of 10 budget trailer bills includes $180 billion in investments over the next decade to address the state’s aging infrastructure, create jobs, and help meet ambitious climate goals.
  • Participated in the Highway 37 Joint Committee meetings to look at options for Highway 37 improvements and funding to deal with congestion and sea level rise.
  • Wrote letters to advocate for Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) request for $50 million from the 2023 Local Transportation Climate Adaptation Program (LTCAP) for the Resilient State Route 37 – Sears Point to Mare Island Improvement Project (Project) and $20 million of 2023 Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) grant funding for the Resilient State Route 37 – Sears Point to Mare Island Improvement Project (Project) in Sonoma, Napa and Solano Counties of California.
  • Advocated for more funding in the state budget to prevent Bay Area transit systems from going off the “fiscal cliff” due to reduced ridership.
  • Collaborated on surveys to understand commuters return to workplace and transit use.
  • Supported efforts to increase ridership on SMART and other public transit.

In Government and Public Pension/Regulatory Reform, NBLC:

  • Held 4 Good Government Get Togethers.
  • Held a Legislative Advocacy focused Board Meeting in June.
  • Continues to work for real CEQA and other regulatory reforms.
  • Informed legislators and staff of key policy positions and explored ways to work together where there is common ground in our Good Government Get Togethers, meetings with elected officials and Board meetings.

In Sustainability/Environment, NBLC:

  • Partnered with other business organizations on water policy and sustainability.
  • Advocated for environmental stewardship – including greenhouse gas reduction efforts, alternative energy systems, reduced energy and water consumption, encouraged car and van pooling, and much more.
  • Worked collaboratively to build resiliency to climate change and foster better adaptations to new normal of heat, drought, intense storms and fires.

In Healthy Communities, NBLC:

  • Serves on the Healthy Marin Partnership.
  • Serves on the Petaluma Heath Care District’s CHIPA committee and subcommittees.
  • Serve on California Preschool Business Advisory Council.
  • Working to increase funding for children in Sonoma County by exploring new funding options.
  • Supported hospitals in efforts to get what they need as the disruption from the pandemic continues and funding is not keeping up with costs.

In Connecting to the Community, NBLC:

  • Produces North Bay Policy Watch, an e-newsletter discussing topical news concerning the issues of importance about public policy priorities, NBLC members and events.
  • Produced State of the North Bay Conference and the Leaders of the North Bay Awards Luncheon.
  • Gave five students college scholarships.
  • Broadcasts information via NBLC’s blog and social media, including LinkedIn, X (Twitter), and Facebook.
  • Pens Opinion Pieces for the local newspapers.
  • Speaks at conferences and events in the North Bay and at request of groups/organizations.
  • Facilitated Sonoma Business Consortium and Keep Marin Working business coalitions.
  • Co-sponsors events and programs like the Business Edge series with Dominican University’s Institute for Leadership Studies.

Good Relations with Elected and Appointed Officials

NBLC meets often with elected and appointed officials.  The CEO meets with the Sonoma and Marin County Supervisors regularly and often with Mayors and Councilmembers.  We hold a Legislative Advocacy meeting in June. And we had four Good Government Get-Togethers (GGG) to help build relationships between its members and elected and appointed officials to further understanding and cooperation.  We also invite elected officials as our guests to our signature events and Holiday Luncheon.

NBLC endorses candidates and ballot measures that represent the goals and values of our organization.  NBLC has two Political Action Committees that contribute to candidates and measures that have won our support.

Signature Events

NBLC produced two Signature Events:

  • Economic Insight Conference “State of the North Bay”
  • Leaders of the North Bay Awards Luncheon

Original Research to Gain Economic Insight

NBLC researches public policy issues and economic trends and presents that information in its Policy Watch newsletter, speaking engagements and often at its State of the North Bay Conference.

NBLC Fosters Partnerships, Collaborations, and Participates within:

  • 21st Century Alliance
  • Bay Area Business Coalition
  • Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute
  • Bay Area Council’s Water, Government Affairs, and Transportation/Land Use Committees
  • Bay Area Economic Development District
  • California Preschool Business Advisory Council
  • California Stewardship Network
  • Healthy Marin Partnership
  • Keep Marin Working
  • Marin Housing Crisis Action, Steering Committee
  • Marin Schools to Career Partnership
  • New California Coalition
  • North Bay Children’s Center, Advisory Committee
  • Northern California Apprenticeship Network
  • Petaluma Healthcare District’s CHIPA
  • Pepperwood Advisory Council
  • REAL Coalition (statewide business organizations)
  • REAL Coalition Education & Workforce Development Committee, Chair
  • Sonoma County Business & Ag Consortium
  • XR Marin Leadership Council