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PD Editorial: A week of positive news for the county

  • Chris Thornburg a founding partner of Beacon Economics gives his take and forecast on the local, state and national economy to a large group from the Sonoma County Economic Development Board, Friday morning Oct. 19, 2012 at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

The news from the past seven days has given Sonoma County residents plenty to smile about, and it's not all related to a certain black-and-orange baseball team.

First, we heard that Sonoma County home sales were continuing to grow along with home prices. September sales were up 4 percent from a year earlier. The median price also was up 4 percent to $357,000.

Then came the report mid-week that home foreclosures were at a five-year low. Overall, the number of homeowners who lost houses and condominiums to foreclosure during the third quarter was down 38 percent from a year ago.

Finally, Friday brought positive news on several fronts.

First, the latest jobless figures showed unemployment in Sonoma County had dropped five points to 7.6 percent, down significantly from 9.5 percent a year ago.

Meanwhile, community leaders who gathered for an economic forecast breakfast at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel Friday morning were told that the Foreign Trade Zone linked to the Port of San Francisco could be extended soon to include most of Sonoma County.

This means that Sonoma County manufacturers and those involved in exports may be able to see the duty fees they pay on imported components reduced. The long and short of this is that a trade zone designation will make it easier for manufacturers who do business here, and it will make Sonoma County more attractive for others to move here.

As Supervisor Mike McGuire noted Friday, it will allow Sonoma County to compete on a global stage.

Finally, there was the forecast itself by economist Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics, who offered as rosy an outlook as we've heard in some time.

He reported that Sonoma County has outpaced the rest of the state in terms of job growth, that the local economy was continuing to grow, buoyed by the strength of agriculture, tourism and hospitality, and that the foreclosure crisis was over.

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