Companies selected as Best Places to Work in the North Bay were analyzed by the editorial staff of the BUSINESS JOURNAL on the basis several criteria, including the employer questionnaire, the survey ratings by employees, the number of responses, the size of the company, the breakdown of responses by management and non-management as well as written comments.

In designing the contest, the BUSINESS JOURNAL drew ideas from several national and regional competitions, including Fortune Magazine.

In all, 90 companies were nominated. Among those, 46 participated in the company and employee surveys from which 24 winners were selected. Winners are presented here grouped by size and then by their employee score.

Nominations for Best Places to Work in the North Bay were sought starting in March. Anyone within a company could nominate their business by completing a simple form. A minimum of 25 employees was required.

Nominated companies were then contacted by BUSINESS JOURNAL staff and invited to submit a company application and ask employees to complete a brief online survey. The survey was set up through Zoomerang, a widely used online polling site.

Each company was supplied a unique company and access code. All responses were anonymous.

A minimum level of employee response was required across management and non-management, depending on the company's size: 50 percent for companies 25 to 100 employees; 40 percent for those with 101 to 250; 35 percent for those with 251 to 500; 30 percent for those with 501 to 1,000 and 15 percent for 1,000 and above.

Companies were allowed about three weeks to complete the process.

BUSINESS JOURNAL staff contributing to the 2006 Best Places to Work in the North Bay were Assistant Editor Marcia Simmons, Director of Research Noelani Garcia, reporters Dorsey Kindler, Lindsay Riddell, Loralee Stevens and Jeff Quackenbush, Research Assistant Laura Cochrane and special correspondent Gary Quackenbush.

Tomas Chadsey of The Press Democrat's online staff provided technical advice and support in developing the Zoomerang survey.

? Brad Bollinger, Editor