The Financial Impact of COVID-19 on Marin County Businesses

Executive Summary

Marin County’s businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact will have lasting effects on our local economy. Leading Business Associations at Keep Marin Working launched a survey to understand the immediate stability and financial needs of our businesses to better support them moving forward. This survey was created for businesses throughout the County to provide information to be used to inform initiatives and activities that forge opportunities for their survival and success during and after the pandemic.

Keep Marin Working (KMW), a collaboration of business and economic development organizations, drafted and distributed the survey in both English and Spanish. The results painted a picture of major financial struggle for businesses across the County during this time. Of these participating businesses, 78% percent had seen a decline in revenue causing much concern about their financial security and economic stability and not knowing how long they can survive. In fact, 58% of the businesses that participated in the survey said they are using their personal savings, accumulating massive credit card debt or borrowing from family members just to stay in business. Seventeen businesses have said they have permanently closed, and thirty-two additional businesses say they plan on closing for good in the near future. Almost 70% of respondents stated their business decreased by 10% or more with 35% stating revenues were down between 50-100%. When asked what their businesses needed to survive, surprisingly 25% of businesses said they could maintain in operation for six months if they received a grant of $5,000 or less, while twenty one percent felt that $20,000- $50,000 would be necessary to survive.

Of the participants, 70% of the businesses that participated have been in operation for over 10 years. 74% had 5 or less employees and 92% had 20 or less employees. 44% were single owner businesses and over 66% were women owned. 67% percent of the participants were from the city of San Rafael, 8% from Novato, nearly 6% from unincorporated Marin, and 5% from the city of Mill Valley with the remainder from every other local jurisdiction.


In review of the survey data, it was revealed that the businesses in Marin County were affected dramatically by the COVID-19 pandemic and went to great lengths to survive. In fact, without personal financial support and support from a local, state or federal source a significant portion would not survive. This shows us the temporary tenacity that these sole proprietors and brick-and-mortar entities have, yet many of these businesses are hanging on by a thread.

The most alarming fact was that 58% of the Marin businesses have been forced to use personal
savings, credit card debt or family loans for a means to continue operations. The life-blood of
Marin’s economy is in the retention and expansion of our small businesses. As we have witnessed
many of our local businesses adapting and embracing the changes in our environment, they are
taking on more and more debt. Uncertainty is still a factor and it is our concern that many of these
local businesses will simply not be able to take on more debt. If our businesses do not re-invest in
their operations and grow in the coming years, it will slow down or even shut down our local

Given these findings, there is an urgent need to assist Marin’s businesses now to help them stay
afloat, so they can continue to provide us with the jobs and services we need. Based on the
collected information, the KMW group strongly recommends another county-wide business relief
grant program. It is estimated that if the program was funded up to $2,000,000, the county could
provide immediate relief to save our local businesses. This would drive a quicker economic recovery
that would benefit all of Marin. However, we need more than a program that provides immediate
relief; we need a program that provides ongoing support until the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
have dissipated. KMW recommends a longer-term commitment to recover affected industries to
secure an economic base in Marin that is strong, diverse and resilient.


Using a well-known survey tool, the survey was emailed out through newsletters and posted on
websites and in social media channels by all organizations in collaboration with the cities and the
County. The survey was available for three weeks from February 3rd to February 24th. A total of 1191 surveys (capturing over 10% of the total licenses countywide) were completed, and in these results, there was a fair distribution sample of small, medium and large businesses representing every major business sector. Although we translated the survey in Spanish, distribution of the survey to Spanishspeaking business owners proved to be more complex, due to digital literacy and the digital divide that exists in Marin. We acknowledge that more work needs to be done to reach both Latino and other BIPOC owned businesses and we will continue to work with our community partners to capture and track this data. This survey is a strong start that represents an ample array of businesses across the region.

View Survey Results-English
View Survey Results-Spanish

Keep Marin Working (KMW), is a collaborative of diverse Marin organizations, whose purpose is to
coordinate and strengthen the voice of business throughout the county and take positions to create a more business-friendly climate. This group includes the North Bay Leadership Council, Marin Realtors Association, Marin Economic Forum, Marin Builders Association, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, Latino Council, Novato Chamber of Commerce, Marin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Canal Alliance.

Contact: Josh Townsend
(415) 910-0464

NBLC Statement on Violence, Racism, Misogyny and Anti-Semitism

North Bay Leadership Council mourns the loss of the eight souls murdered in Atlanta, including six Asian/Asian American women.  We are saddened by the continuing acts of violence against people of color throughout the United States.  The fact that hatred, racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and violence are ever present in our communities shows the need for us to become more united in the efforts to stop hate in all its forms.

There is a cumulative effect of the hatred and violence we are witnessing and far too many are experiencing.  The prevalence of hatred and violence causes fear not only among the people being targeted but for all right-minded people who recognize that hatred and violence are a cancer in our communities.  If one person isn’t safe, none of us are.

It is apparent that there is a much work to do to end racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and violence in our country. NBLC is committed to that cause and looks to partner with other groups in achieving that goal.  We support efforts like those of Santa Rosa Junior College to stand in Solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities and Denouncing Anti-Asian Racism/Violence. You can read the SRJC Resolution here.

In response to challenges, NBLC seeks to be a problem-solver and part of the solution.  We think that contributing to nonprofits who serve the AAPI community in California would be helpful. Below are some suggestions or consider giving to any group with likeminded objectives:

Let us join together to put all of our resources and hearts into ending racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and violence.  We call on our colleagues to stand with us in grief and solidarity against systemic racism and gender-based violence. Violence against Asian American communities is part of a larger system of violence and racism against all communities of color, including Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.

In this time of crisis, let’s come together and build just communities, where we are all safe, valued, and treated with dignity and respect.

SPARC Joins North Bay Leadership Council

SPARC, represented by Erich Pearson, its Founder and CEO, has joined the board of North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC).

“NBLC values the cannabis industry as an important economic engine in the North Bay that will continue to contribute much needed jobs and revenue as the region strives to recover from our economic shock,” said NBLC Board Chair Patty Garbarino. A leader in the cannabis industry, we welcome Erich and SPARC’s participation in our advocacy efforts.”

SPARC currently operates five retail locations: three in San Francisco and two in Sonoma County (in Santa Rosa and in Sebastopol), with its Sonoma location coming online later this year. SPARC has 25,000 square feet of manufacturing, processing and distribution space in Santa Rosa, where its corporate offices are located, and 20,000 square feet of centralized processing at its Glen Ellen estate farm anticipated to be up and running this summer.

“I am honored to be appointed to the North Bay Leadership Council. SPARC is committed to serving the North Bay community to ensure that we have a strong economy, skilled workforce and protected environment,” said Pearson.

Born in Indiana, Pearson moved to California to cultivate cannabis and quickly immersed himself in San Francisco’s cannabis reform movement, spearheading efforts to protect the industry from criminal prosecution and implement programs to provide free cannabis to medically ill patients.

Pearson opened SPARC’s first retail store in San Francisco 2012. In 2015, SPARC merged with Peace in Medicine, a highly respected industry peer with two retail facilities in Sonoma County and began cultivating cannabis in Sonoma County’s wine country in 2017. The following year, the SPARC farm became Demeter Certified for Biodynamic cultivation, making it one of the largest Biodynamic cannabis farms in California.

SPARC currently employs 150 people. Pearson’s business partner Sean Kelley serves as President and Chief Operating Officer, leveraging his experience in retail, consulting and supply chain. Other longstanding members of the team include Vice President of Finance, Kelly Rogoff, and Vice President of Human Resources, Jo Galauski.

Pearson has maintained his commitment to developing compassionate care programs, providing free cannabis to qualified medical patients in the communities they serve. He also continues to promote social equity in the industry, instituting practices that promote the hiring of individuals from disadvantaged communities and communities of color.

When SPARC’s Sonoma location opens later this year, Pearson will donate 5 percent of its profits in support of various local nonprofits, including the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation and La Luz Center.

Like many local businesses, SPARC is facing the challenges associated with the pandemic. “I look forward to working with the NBLC to tackle the challenges affecting our business climate and working with my fellow Board Members to advance policies that foster business expansion and greater economic prosperity in the County,” said Pearson.

ArchiLOGIX Joins North Bay Leadership Council

ArchiLOGIX, a comprehensive design and development consulting firm that focuses on responsible, sustainable compact development and public safety projects, is now a member of North Bay Leadership Council. Patty Garbarino, Chair of NBLC’s Board and President of Marin Sanitary Service, welcomed ArchiLOGIX, saying “ArchiLOGIX is a model architecture and planning firm whose projects in the North Bay show how ArchiLOGIX values the environment and the community.  They are leaders in helping navigate today’s difficult development climate and will contribute greatly to NBLC’s work to have more housing built in the region.”

ArchiLOGIX focuses on three areas of architecture: Health and Wellness; Manufacturing and Infill Development. They provide strategic solutions for revitalizing communities through urban infill. They work with private and public sector clients to revitalize and repurpose existing special re-use districts and projects. Together, they develop and execute a vision that meets their needs and helps bring economic vitality, prosperity and an enhanced quality of life to their community. ArchiLOGIX is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and has been a donor, managed projects for the Santa Rosa Chapter of Rebuilding Together and is a Platinum member of the local housing advocacy organization, Generation Housing.

The member representative will be Peter Stanley, Principal and LEED BD+ C.  Stanley said, “We share NBLC’s commitment to creating more housing in the North Bay and fostering more innovation and prosperity in the region.  Their mission and values dovetail well with our firm’s sustainable philosophy and goals for the built environment.” In 2004, Stanley founded ArchiLOGIX and in 2006, teamed with award-winning architect Mitch Conner to provide planning, development consulting and architectural services.

Along with his business interests, Stanley is very involved in community work both locally and abroad. He chaired the City of Santa Rosa’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board and was a board member from 2007 until February of 2011 when he was appointed to the Santa Rosa Planning Commission and the Mayor’s Open Government Task Force. He is also the current President and former vice chairman of two international nonprofits respectively, Developing Communities and Clinica Verde, which are dedicated to providing housing, education, economic development and medical services to low-income families, women and children in Nicaragua. He has recently co-founded Verday Health with Susan Lyons, a startup looking to provide healthcare delivery options to underserved rural communities in the US.

North Bay Leadership Council Welcomes American River Bank as a New Member

North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC) welcomes American River Bank as a new member.  American River Bank is a regional bank serving Northern California since 1983. American River Bank is a subsidiary of American River Bankshares, a publicly-traded company.

Patty Garbarino, chair of NBLC and president of Marin Sanitary Services, said, “We are excited to have this regional bank joining our membership because of their commitment to the community and shared values. We look forward to seeing American River Bank grow in the North Bay and become an important contributor to our region’s quality of life.”

American River Bank has been profitable every full year since their founding, which they attribute to their demonstrated history of providing value to clients, shareholders, and employees. American River Bank has 107 total employees across 11 locations and generated $27 million in revenue (USD) in 2019.

As of September 30, 2020, the Company had consolidated assets of $858 million, net loans of $472 million, deposits of $729 million and shareholders’ equity of $92 million. The Bank’s principal office is in Sacramento and the North Bay offices are in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg with plans to increase its presence in the North Bay.

Julianna Graham, SVP Market Manager, is the member representative.  Graham has a background in commercial lending, strategic planning, project and sales management, and business development. She is active in the North Bay community serving on nonprofit boards and is a faculty member of Pacific Coast Banking School.

Graham said, “American River Bank is proud to be a part of the North Bay community and North Bay Leadership Council.  We are committed to joining with other community leaders to help to make this region more innovative, resilient and prosperous.”

An integral part of American River Bank’s community engagement is the American River Bank Foundation which is committed to supporting organizations that create opportunity, enhance self-esteem, increase awareness about culture and community, and provide physical and emotional well-being for the most vulnerable women and children. The Foundation is solely supported by American River Bank, its employees, clients and partners. They have donated over $1.5 million to local nonprofit organizations since the Foundation was established in 2004.

Burbank Housing Joins North Bay Leadership Council

The North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC) announced today that local affordable housing nonprofit Burbank Housing has joined its membership ranks. Burbank Housing currently manages more than 3200 rentals throughout 86 communities and serves more than 10,000 residents. During its 40 years of operation, Burbank has also built 915 single family subsidized homes and has almost 230 homes in development.

Patty Garabino, NBLC Board Chair and President of Marin Sanitary Services, expressed excitement, pointing to Burbank Housing’s knowledge in the field gained over four decades as Sonoma County’s largest nonprofit affordable housing developer.

“The housing crisis is a major concern to North Bay employers,” said Garabino. “Burbank Housing is a leader in affordable housing development and operation with an impressive track record of success. We look forward to having their expertise and wherewithal to help drive our housing advocacy efforts.”

Burbank Housing believes that communities thrive when housing is affordable. The nonprofit has led the region in creating and maintaining quality, sustainable housing and rental opportunities, and inspired education and acceptance of affordable housing initiatives. Their work fosters community development and revitalization, and provides opportunities for residents to lead healthier, more successful lives.

Burbank Housing’s member representative will be the organization’s CEO and President Larry Florin, who brings more than 30 years of experience in real estate, as well as community and economic development expertise in both the public and private sector, to Burbank Housing and the Council.

“Building new homes for North Bay residents requires a lot of advocacy and political will-building,” said Florin. “Joining with housing advocates like the North Bay Leadership Council is vital for success. Burbank looks forward to working with the North Bay Leadership Council and its membership to help get much needed affordable housing built in the region.”

Prior to Burbank, Florin served as the Director of Housing and Intergovernmental Affairs for Napa County. Before Napa County, Florin spent more than 10 years in the private sector co-founding a development company that specialized in adaptive reuse of underutilized industrial property. During his tenure, he oversaw some of the company’s largest development projects in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the redevelopment of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Treasure Island.

Florin also possesses more than 15 years of experience working in senior management positions in San Francisco, including executive level positions in Mayor’s Office, the Redevelopment Authority and the City’s Port. He served as the first Executive Director of the Treasure Island Development Authority. Other accomplishments include serving on the Executive Board of the Association of Bay Area Governments, the State Governor’s Task Force on Military Base Conversion, the State of California Housing Element Working Group and California Forward’s One Million Homes Initiative. He also received the San Francisco Business Times Real Estate Transaction of the Year Award and the San Francisco Mayor’s Manager of the Year.

PLEASE RESPOND TO THIS SURVEY: What help are businesses getting? What help do businesses need?

The business councils and chambers in Marin County asks that you complete the short survey linked to below.  We are trying to assess how the businesses in Marin are faring, what kind of help they have received and what additional help do they need.  Armed with this data, we hope to have more fuel to lobby for more relief funds and other assistance to help Marin businesses weather the storm of the pandemic, recession and natural disasters.  Thank you for sharing this information which will be kept anonymous.  In strategizing the best way forward, the more we know of how you are doing the more we hope to advocate on your behalf.  We are eager to gather this data in anticipation of new funding become available from the Federal government shortly.

Please see the links/QR Codes to the survey in both English and Spanish.














Thank you!  We appreciate your prompt response.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

‘The Hill We Climb’ By Amanda Gorman

When day comes we ask ourselves,
Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it
– Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate, read the following poem during the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20

North Bay Leadership Council Welcomes the LIME Foundation as a New Member

Petaluma, CA  North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC) is pleased to announce its newest member, the LIME Foundation.  The mission of the LIME Foundation is to serve the specific needs of the disadvantaged community across all ages and income levels by collaborating with key community leaders to provide new skills to students and adults looking to reskill or upskill.  Steve Page, Chair of NBLC’s Board and President and General Manager, Sonoma Raceway, said “NBLC is aligned with the mission of the LIME Foundation because it is fundamental to having the workforce we need in the North Bay. We are impressed at how the Foundation’s work has been very successful in addressing inequities by helping their graduates gain access to new jobs at higher wages.”

The LIME Foundation was founded by Letitia Hanke, who is also the CEO of ARS Roofing in Santa Rosa.  Hanke has a wealth of experience in breaking barriers as a businesswoman and person of color and long list of accomplishments.  NBLC is proud to have honored Hanke as a Leader of the North Bay with an award for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Hanke said, “Joining NBLC is a good way to further connect the work of the LIME Foundation with the employers of the North Bay so that we can work together to create the workforce needed today and tomorrow.  Those served by the LIME Foundation learn vital skills to harness individual potential in music, performing arts, construction careers, technology, and health.”

Some of the programs offered by the LIME Foundation include the

Nextgen Trades Academy, which is a roofing and construction vocational program that trains youth in construction fields like roofing, solar, general contracting and more. The program also offers home repair services, specifically roofing, to the under-served. This allows seniors, veterans, the disabled and low-income families to remain in their own homes, independent and safe.

​Another program is the Turner Arts Initiative which brings positive, structured activities to disadvantaged youth, giving them the opportunity to learn technology or play a musical instrument – great alternatives to substance abuse, teen pregnancy, truancy, loneliness, obesity, bullying, exclusion, etc. Most importantly, this initiative uses music and dance as a positive, constructive means of expression. It features an activity center and a summer and after-school mentoring and tutoring program.

Another standout program is the Senior Activities Program, which provides a venue for seniors to remain active and make new friends. This program promotes healthy eating, exercise through dance, bowling, hiking and many other activities in order to prevent or reverse heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Letitia Hanke will be the member representative.  Hanke has received a many awards and recognition as head of the foundation and her roofing company.  Some of her recognitions include a Champion for Children Award by the Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County, Nonprofit Leadership Award and Women in Business Award from the North Bay Business Journal, and a North Bay Spirit Award Winner.  Hanke is also the former President, North Bay Black Chamber of Commerce.

The alternate will be Andrew Leonard, who is the Program Director for the LIME Foundation.  Community collaboration is a core tenet of Leonard’s work, for the Foundation and as Sonoma County Office of Education Board Trustee. Leonard’s past work with United Way of the Wine Country’s and with First 5 Sonoma County connects him directly to schools, students, and their success.

NBLC looks forward to having the LIME Foundation contribute its knowledge and experience to its public policy work to make the North Bay a better place to live and work.

North Bay Leadership Council is an employer-led public policy advocacy organization committed to providing leadership in ways to make the North Bay sustainable, prosperous and innovative.  The Council includes more than 50 leading employers in the region.  Our members represent a wide variety of businesses, non-profits and educational institutions, with a workforce in excess of 25,000. For more information please contact Cynthia Murray at 707.283.0028 or visit us at

New Year New Relief Grants, Loans, and Tax Credits!

Happy New Year!  I hope that you enjoyed the holidays and look forward to working together to make 2021 a much better year.  To help get you started, below is information on new funding, note that some deadlines have been extended.


SHARE WITH YOUR SMALL BIZ FRIENDS: A new $500 million Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program for eligible small business owners and nonprofits. Grants up to $25,000 are available. The deadline to apply has been extended to January 13APPLY TODAY!

CA grant relief deadline is extended to January 13 at 11:59 PM.

From Lendistry, the administrator of the grants:

  1. We have received thousands of completed applications!
  2.  To ensure fair and equitable opportunities for California’s small business community, we are extending the closing date for Round to January 13th, 2021. This will allow us time to help those still in process (editing applications + uploading documents) and to provide additional time for new applicants.
  3.  We are adjusting the update and upload process. If applicants experienced disruptions in the application process, they will be notified when they can log back in for updates and uploads.
  4.  Applicants will be notified of these changes via email tonight starting at 6PM.

If you need to contact Lendistry for any reasons, here is the contact info:

Lendistry Call Center: 888.612.4370


Hours: 7am-7pm PST

Again, here is the LINK TO APPLY



SBA announced that the deadline to apply for a COVID-19 pandemic Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) has been extended. All eligible small businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to apply for these affordable loans. Learn more and apply by clicking here.


  • California STEP grant program opened the application window for Individual Company Export Program (ICEP) grants. The ICEP program is designed to reimburse eligible California small businesses up to $5,000 for eligible export promotion-related expenses. Click here for more information.