SR Self-Help Housing Project Moving Again

Jan 28, 2014

  As the local housing market shows increasing signs of revival, a big new sweat equity housing project in Southwest Santa Rosa is preparing to break ground. Bruce Robinson talks with the project’s manager.

Online Barter System Seeks to Boost Local Resiliency

Jan 27, 2014

Bay Bucks is a new community currency, now rolling out from Santa Cruz to Santa Rosa. Essentially a web-based barter system, it is intended to offer a local alternative to the big banks of Wall Street.

Go Local Cards Gain Traction

Jan 17, 2014

The number of people actively using Go Local rewards cards, and the number of businesses honoring them, both grew substantially in 2013. And the local economic multiplier program anticipates even greater expansion this year.

Many Go Local card-holders use them infrequently, often just once. But Co-manager Terry Garrett says increased repeat usage began to trend upward during 2013.

Automation Drives Wage Inequality

Jan 15, 2014

  Beyond the extreme  income inequality that has characterized the US economy over the past decade, there is also a growing gap in the wages earned by workers. The result is further contraction of the American middle class.

Professor Steven Cuellar will talk about the Causes and Consequences of Wage Inequality at tonight’s Science Buzz Café event in Sebastopol.

Convenience Shop Meets Health Food Store

Dec 17, 2013
Susan Butler

One Sebastopol woman is working to make eating healthy and locally as easy as stopping at the convenience store for a bag of chips. We visit a the construction site of a local business aiming to change the way food is bought and sold in Sonoma County. Susan Butler is starting Locastore -- a micro-franchise focusing on local-only products. 

Watch a video about Susan Butler's Locastore project, or donate to the project at

Redefining Poverty for California

Oct 22, 2013

 National formulas for setting the poverty line don’t allow for higher regional costs, such as Bay Area housing expenses. Factor those costs in, and the number of people who are actually living in poverty here takes a substantial jump. 

Local Economy Looking Up

Oct 16, 2013
Graton Resort and Casino

A new casino, expansion of the Sonoma County airport, and a close-to-home workforce all contribute to renewed confidence in the local economy, as revealed in a recent survey of area business leaders.

   The runway expansion has drawn most of the attention at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, but concurrent construction will create a SMART train station very close to it, a prospect that Tom Duryea, CEO of Summit State Bank, sees as an enormous benefit.


Building Economic Resilience Close to Home

Sep 26, 2013

A concerned and thoughtful gathering of consumers, entrepreneurs activists and financial thinkers convened at Santa Rosa’s Flamingo Hotel yesterday to share ideas on strengthening the local economy. 

Slow Money activist Marco Vangelisti anticipates that global corporate hegemony is in a decline that is not yet widely apparent, but could come with unexpected quickness.

Shareholder Activism

Jul 15, 2013

 The most effective way to redirect corporate behavior into more socially responsible actions may be from within—though shareholder activism.

  Even the biggest corporations can be influenced by a single shareholder, or a small group of them, says Dale Wannen of Sustainvest. And an increasing number of them are making that effort.

Courtesy of Flickr user Corey Templeton.

On today’s North Bay Report we look at a regional initiative to strengthen then middle class -- the Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan is a three-year initiative funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. 

Assets at Risk?

May 31, 2013

  Wall Street’s biggest banks remain “too big to fail,” thanks in part to their recently legalized ability to seize depositors’ assets if another crisis should hit. Bruce Robinson talks with banking industry critic Ellen Brown.

  Local credit unions are a popular alternative to big commercial banks for many households and small businesses, Brown agrees, but they also have limitations.

Anticipating New Economic Realities

May 7, 2013

Say goodbye to cheap oil, high-wage manufacturing jobs, and rampant consumerism, says energy analyst Richard Heinberg. The coming new economy will get along just fine without depending on them.

As the era of inexpensive fossil fuels wanes, so too will big agribusiness go into decline, Heinberg predicts. But already he sees a resurgence of family farming rising to take over the critical role of providing sustenance for local communities.

Economic Inequality in Sonoma County

Apr 25, 2013

Sonoma County presents a prosperous and inclusive face to the world, but upon closer examination, this area is also home to serious and growing income inequality. A new report spells it out in detail, and Bruce Robinson has this preview.

Ginny Browne, author of The State of Working Sonoma in 2013 report, says that in summary, it shows that the “hourglass economy” is expanding in Sonoma County.

Business is Booming for CA Baby Boomers

Mar 28, 2013

Proposed cuts to federal "entitlement" programs would likely ripple through California's business economy, in ways that most analyses have not examined. Lori Abbott outlines a recent study that focuses on those impacts.

Employment, business optimism up for Sonoma County

Jan 28, 2013
Sonoma County Economic Development Board

Sonoma County leads the state in job growth right now, but will need to make adjustments as much of the current labor force turns toward retirement. Bruce Robinson summarizes the news from the 2013 State of the County breakfast presentations.

"Shift Change" documentary examines coops worldwide

Jan 28, 2013

  A new documentary examines worker-owned cooperative businesses, from a huge complex in Spain to small start-ups here in the Bay Area.