Chief Executive Officer Bruce Cosgrove of the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce and agricultural marketing guru Joanne Neft were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards during the 23rd annual Placer County Economic Development Summit Wednesday.
“I can’t think of a better, more deserving recipient than Joanne Neft for a lifetime achievement award,” said Placer County Supervisor Robert M. Weygandt.
Former Chamber President Wayne Manning introduced Cosgrove, telling the audience, “Throughout his tenure, he has exercised his ability to pull together individuals, member businesses and the community at large to forge events, programs and initiatives that continue to improve the quality of life for all Auburnites.”
Other award winners included:
- Donahue Schriber, the company that is developing the Rocklin Crossings and Rocklin Commons shopping centers at Interstate 80 and Sierra College Boulevard in Rocklin.
- Homewood Lumber, which was honored for providing friendly, knowledgeable and personalized service in the Loomis Basin for generations and contributing to a host of community organizations and projects.
- mPower Placer, a popular, innovative program pioneered by Placer County Treasurer-Tax Collector Jenine Windeshausen that provides financing for owners to make energy-efficiency, water-conservation and renewable-generation improvements to their properties.
- The Roseville Higher Education Task Force, University Center Working Group and City of Roseville, which were recognized for their efforts to establish a University Center in Roseville where students will be able to enroll in a range of degree programs offered by participating universities.
- Cokeva, Inc., which won the Business of the Year Award presented by the Placer County Business Advantage Network. The Roseville-based company was recognized for its commitment to staying within Placer County when it needed to relocate and expand recently and for its support for local schools and charities.
More than 200 people attended this year’s summit breakfast at Sun City Roseville. This year’s theme was “Placer County: Rich in Land, Labor, and Capital.”
The summit is sponsored by the Placer County Economic Development Board (EDB) and organized by the county Office of Economic Development. Each year, the EDB presents awards to recognize public and private-sector contributions to the county’s economic well-being.
The EDB is an advisory board that assists the county with its business attraction and retention efforts. It promotes the creation of new jobs and tax revenue and supports tourism, agribusiness, film production and workforce development initiatives.
The EDB includes representatives from the Placer County Board of Supervisors; the town of Loomis; and the cities of Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville. It also has members who represent agriculture, public and private education, healthcare, utilities, manufacturing, tourism, communications and nonprofit organizations.
“He always is quick with a quote and a wonderful spokesperson for the things that make Auburn unique,” Manning said of Cosgrove, crediting him with playing a leading role in many of the business community’s successes over the years.
Cosgrove has been Chamber CEO for 30 years. He plans to retire this spring.
Manning credited Cosgrove and his organization with playing a vital role on many community projects such as revitalizing Downtown Auburn through the Auburn Main Street Program, establishing the Auburn Symphony, sponsoring the Black & White Ball and setting up the Leadership Auburn program.
“But perhaps his most enduring legacy will be his passion for the virtues of Auburn,” Manning said, noting that Cosgrove has played a pivotal role in festivals, parades, recreational events, the arts, Cruise Nights and many other local events.
“To say that Joanne Neft is a remarkable person is an understatement,” Supervisor Weygandt explained when he nominated her for an award. “There aren’t enough awards to give a person like this that could fully recognize all of her contributions.”
He noted that Neft founded the position of Placer County agricultural marketing director, overseeing a program that serves as a model for other counties. She was instrumental in the creation of PlacerGROWN, the county’s agricultural marketing organization, and founded the Foothill Farmers’ Markets in 1989.
The agricultural marketing efforts provided the impetus for community events such as the Mountain Mandarin Festival, Placer Farm and Barn Tour, and Placer Hills Winery Tour.
Neft has teamed up with Laura Kenny to create two cookbooks: “Placer County Real Food” and “The Art of Real Food.” Neft’s goal was to help educate the public about the value of farm-fresh produce and simple ways to prepare meals using locally grown produce.
Supervisor Weygandt noted that Neft also is a philanthropist, successful businesswoman and volunteer who assists nonprofit organizations throughout the county.
The Costa Mesa-based company received a Private-Sector Award that recognizes its development of necessity-based retail centers that serve as distinctive shopping destinations. The two centers are expected to employ more than 1,000 people at build-out.
City of Rocklin Public Affairs & Economic Growth Manager Karen Garner and Senior Manager Clay Schmidt of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. presented the award to the company, saying both of its projects are first-class regional shopping and entertainment destinations.
The 503,000-square-foot Rocklin Crossings is anchored by a Walmart Supercenter. Rocklin Commons is a 359,000-square-foot center anchored by a Target store.
“Both centers will be developed over time and should be completed over the next two years,” explained the City of Rocklin and PG&E when they nominated the company for its award. “A ground-up development of this scale is relatively unheard of these days, and it reflects a great confidence in the market from Donahue Schriber, as well as two well-known national retailers like Target and Walmart.”
Senior Vice President of Construction Scott Lawrence and Director of Property Management Laurie Sweeney were on hand to represent Donahue Schriber during the awards presentation.
The lumber company received a Private-Sector Award for sustained contributions to the local economy over many years.
“They are to be highly commended for creating jobs and generating additional tax revenues in a tough economy,” Loomis Town Council Member Robert Black told the crowd.
He saluted owners Hamid and Adam Noorani of Homewood for building a 5.5-acre new facility during the economic downtown that allowed the business to expand and better serve its customers. The company also plans to move a door-manufacturing facility to a vacant commercial property in Loomis.
Homewood has been a dedicated partner with the Town of Loomis and local schools and a supporter of programs such as Habitat for Humanity.
Black nominated Homewood for its award, emphasizing that the company is a respected, family-owned business that has been able to compete successfully against big-box stores by offering friendly, knowledgeable and personalized service to all customers, regardless of how big their needs are.
Homewood Lumber began as a lumberyard in Loomis in 1990.
The program won a Public-Sector Award for playing a leading role in establishing public-private partnerships and enhancing regional competitiveness.
Treasurer-Tax Collector Windeshausen, the driving force behind creation of the program, was on hand to accept the award with members of her mPower team: Liz Weil, Rick Julian and Eric Waidmann.
Launched in 2010, the innovative program provides financing for property owners to make energy-efficiency, water-conservation and renewable-generation improvements to their properties.
“These improvements increase property values, generate sales tax revenues and embody clean and green technology,” Chief Deputy Treasurer Kimberly Hawley told the audience.
The program’s goals include creating local jobs, encouraging energy and water conservation and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
As of Jan. 31, 175 applications had been approved and 112 of those had been funded for a total of almost $4.2 million.
Hawley noted that other agencies are using the mPower model to create their own programs. “This is the sincerest form of flattery,” she said.
ROSEVILLE HIGHER EDUCATION TASK FORCE, UNIVERSITY CENTER WORKING GROUP AND CITY OF ROSEVILLE
They won a Public-Sector Award for creating innovative and dynamic pathways for expanding higher education opportunities locally.
“Higher education is a fundamental component to sustainable economic development and a direct input into Placer County’s factors of production, the theme of this morning’s summit breakfast,” explained City of Roseville Development and Operations Manager Mike Isom.
Last November, the City of Roseville, Sierra College, California State University at Sacramento, University of the Pacific, Brandman University, and William Jessup University entered into an agreement to work toward establishing a University Center where students will be able to enroll in a range of undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degree programs. Participating students will spend their freshman and sophomore years at Sierra College, which will provides pathways to ensure their course work will transfer seamlessly to the four-year universities of their choice.
The University Center’s goals include creating strong links between area schools and businesses, lowering costs and reducing how long it takes to earn degrees.
Cokeva is a minority-owned and woman-owned business that provides complete aftermarket support and services for the electronics industry. It is an industry leader in electronics repair services.
The company relocated to a former HP facility recently when its lease was set to expire at its old location.
“Acquiring 300,000 square feet of space not only helped to retain over 200 primary wage-earner jobs, but also paved the way for new jobs as their business expands,” explained Program Supervisor Marcy Schmidt of the Business Advantage Network. “The company also supports local schools and charities and recently participated in the county’s Help to Hire Program by establishing a new position in their human resources department.”
The Business Advantage Network is a team of workforce development professionals that provides no-cost hiring assistance to local employers. Schmidt noted that Cokeva’s human resources department works closely with the network through a focus group created as a vehicle to share resources and best practices among human resource managers.
Ann Nguyen, Dominick DeRosa and Lisa Hutchinson of Cokeva were on hand to receive the award.