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New group backs small business development in Sonoma County

Federal funds for small business development will continue to flow in Sonoma County now that a new organization has taken over the work.

Napa Valley College on Friday opened the Sonoma Small Business Development Center in Santa Rosa, six months after a similar operation closed at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Santa Rosa center and a future one in Marin County mean the two counties won't lose federal funds and local matching dollars to help small business owners, said Ann Johnson-Stromberg, a manager with the regional small business development network based at Humboldt State University.

"Sonoma and Marin were at risk of losing $430,000," she said.

The centers provide free, one-on-one consulting and low-cost training for small business owners.

SRJC hosted the center for both Sonoma and Marin counties for more than 20 years. But budget woes prompted the college to sever ties with the network last August.

In the interim, Johnson-Stromberg oversaw services without a central office for the two counties. She managed a dozen small business advisors and scheduled training sessions. But without a local center, she said, Sonoma and Marin stood at risk of losing $215,000 in aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Napa Valley College will receive $144,000 this year to operate the Santa Rosa center. The Renaissance Center in San Rafael, which will begin services to Marin by early summer, will receive $71,000. Both organizations must match the federal funds 100 percent with dollars or in-kind services, for a total of $430,000.

The Santa Rosa office is located at 1377 Corporate Center Parkway. It will operate each week on Monday and Wednesday through Friday. The phone number is 595-0060.


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