The city of Auburn and Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce were among the award winners honored at the 21st annual Placer County Economic Development Summit Thursday.
Other award winners were Goodwill Industries of the Sacramento Valley and Northern Nevada, the Loomis native who was the main organizer of a high-tech expo held last year in his community and a family farm that provides badly needed cold-storage facilities for other local farmers and ranchers.
More than 200 people attended this year’s summit breakfast at Sun City Roseville. The theme this year was “Health & Wellness – Healthy Lifestyles Build Vibrant Communities.”
The summit is sponsored by the Placer County Economic Development Board (EDB) and is 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. Thursday’s award presentation was led by Bridget Powers, a city of Auburn council member who is the 2012 chair of the EDB.
The recipients of this year’s EDB awards were:
* Karin Sinclair of Sinclair Family Farm Cold Storage, who won a private-sector award for providing badly needed cold-storage facilities for use by local farmers and ranchers;
* Peter Oakes, who received a private-sector award for being the driving force behind the Content Creation and Distribution Expo in Loomis last year;
* The Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce, the recipient of a private-sector award for its Rocklin Walk & Talk; and
* The city of Auburn, winner of a public-sector award for the first two phases of a streetscape project that has helped revitalize the community’s downtown business district.
Goodwill Industries received the Business of the Year Award from the Business Advantage Network, a coalition of local government and nonprofit agencies involved in job-development work.
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 has elected-official representatives from Placer County; the town of Loomis; and the cities of Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville. The board also includes members who represent agriculture, education, utilities, manufacturing, tourism, healthcare, communications and nonprofit organizations.
SINCLAIR FAMILY FARM COLD STORAGE
Karen Killebrew, an Applegate marketing consultant, nominated Karin Sinclair for her award, crediting her with finding a solution when a survey documented a shortage of cold-storage facilities facing local farmers and ranchers for lamb, beef, pork, poultry, eggs and other PlacerGrown products.
Karin and her husband, Keith, operate Sinclair Family Farms and Sinclair Concrete in Penryn. The couple installed a refrigerator-freezer unit in an underused warehouse in 2010 and soon added two additional units when the first reached capacity. The units provide convenient, affordable storage space and create new business opportunities for users.
“There is a growing demand by large buyers such as schools, hospitals and retail stores for Placer County agricultural products,” Killebrew explained. “Only by aggregating products in central storage facilities will small farms be able to take advantage of these large-scale opportunities.”
Killebrew described Karin Sinclair as one of the hardest-working, most even-tempered business owners she knows. “She is constantly innovating, learning and sharing her knowledge with others,” Killebrew said.
Gary Liss, a member of the Loomis Town Council who also serves on the EDB, credited Oakes with blazing new trails and sailing uncharted waters when he led the drive to organize the first-ever Content Creation and Distribution Expo.
Oakes is executive director and co-founder of the group that put on the expo, a unique event that was a combined trade show, conference and festival. It featured noted guest speakers, internationally recognized companies and regional businesses, and attracted more than 1,500 people.
“Organizers and volunteers moved heaven and earth, even constructing a beautiful new stage in downtown Loomis, completed just five hours before the ribbon cutting,” Liss explained.
The expo was held at several locations throughout the heart of downtown Loomis. The event’s sponsors included the Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Office, a part of the county Office of Economic Development, and the Placer County Visitors Bureau.
The expo’s main focus was new technologies that make it easier, faster and less expensive to create and distribute content for television, home computers, digital theaters, hand-held devices and other electronic equipment.
Liss noted that the expo attracted winners of Academy, Emmy and Grammy awards, and featured new equipment never seen before in the United States.
THE ROCKLIN AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Chief Executive Officer Dave Butler of Linking Education and Economic Development nominated the Chamber for its award, noting that the Rocklin Walk and Talk was a first-of-its-kind event in Placer County, the region and perhaps anywhere.
“While businesses are routinely surveyed about business conditions, reaching out to individual community residents about their priorities for community and economic development was an original idea,” Butler explained.
The Chamber organized the event in partnership with the city of Rocklin, William Jessup University, Sierra College and the Rocklin Unified School District. Almost 100 volunteers collected responses from more than 600 residents. Another 55 people responded online.
Participants were asked two primary questions:
* What do you value most about Rocklin?
* What can be done to make living and working there even better?
“Stakeholders believe this effort has the potential to have a very significant positive influence on the tax base, property values, job creation and retention of residents,’ Butler said. “An effective physical outreach by community partners demonstrated a commitment to providing residents with the services they value and will enhance the city’s competitive advantage as a desirable place for capital investment.”
CITY OF AUBURN STREETSCAPE PROJECT
The city was honored for its work on the first two phases of the Auburn Streetscape Master Plan.
“A once-unattractive, underutilized and poorly functioning intersection has been transformed operationally and its Central Square has become one of the focal points within the city,” said Senior Account Manager Chuck Heisleman of Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the person who nominated the city for its honor.
He noted that the square now hosts many community events year-round. The square includes seating, outdoor art pedestals and a fire circle to help promote it as a gathering place.
Pedestrians move safely and happily through the area while motorists travel more slowly than before. Amenities such as benches, drinking fountains and public art help create an inviting ambiance. Interpretive signs identify historical features and directional signs and kiosks offer assistance. Landscaping and lighting have been improved, drainage is better and infrastructure and utility services have been modernized.
“Perhaps most importantly, retail opportunities have been increased, contributing to economic revitalization,” Heisleman said.
The project’s goals including improving the corridor between Old Town and Downtown Auburn, celebrating the community’s identity and sense of place, providing an inviting setting for pedestrians, contributing to economic revitalization, improving infrastructure and strengthening the community social fabric.
GOODWILL INDUSTRIES OF THE SACRAMENTO VALLEY AND NORTHERN NEVADA
“This community-based nonprofit organization provides unsurpassed job training and jobs to people with disabilities, those who lack education or job experience and others who face challenges to finding employment,” explained county Program Supervisor Marcy Schmidt.
Goodwill Industries sells donated clothes and other items online and at three retail stores in Placer County and 16 stores elsewhere in the region, using the proceeds to fund job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs.
Schmidt reported that more than 60 participants in a county Work Experience Program have received job training through the three stores in Placer County, Goodwill Industries hired six employees last year through a new county wage-subsidy program; and the company hired seven Placer County Welfare-to-Work participants last year.
Schmidt said Goodwill Industries has 132 employees in Placer County, describing it as an entrepreneurial leader, environmental pioneer and social innovator.