Straus Family Creamery got its start in Marshall before organic dairy was a mainstay. Now, it plans to consolidate its operations in Santa Rosa. The company, led by CEO Albert Straus, is well known for its approach to organic production while decreasing the company’s environmental impact and footprint. The new location will roll the creamery, storage and administrative divisions into one spot, making the Marshall and Petaluma locations obsolete. The company is planning to design wastewater treatment to lessen the impact on the city sewer system. Other environmental goals include use of solar energy as well as a biodigester.
Most of the company’s workforce calls Santa Rosa home, so the new facility will not only keep the staff happy with a shorter commute but will also have them driving less, which will lessen the company’s impact on air pollution.
The Marin Economic Forum (MEF), the San Rafael-based nonprofit that tracks business in this county, noted recently that six of the top 200 public companies in the nation are found here: Autodesk (48), Restoration Hardware (59), BioMarin (94), Redwood Trust (188), Willis Leasing (193) and WestAmerica Bancorp (200). The rankings, courtesy of the San Francisco Business Times, illustrate the shift away from Marin being thought of as bedroom community for San Francisco to a job creator.
Speaking of BioMarin, the San Rafael-based orphan-drug developer is in talks with the city of Novato to work out a master plan amendment to let the life science company expand its Bel Marin Keys campus as well as buildings on Digital Drive, Leveroni Court and Galli Drive. The company needs more room for manufacturing, warehouse operations and research and development.
The master plan amendment could permit building changes including increased height limits. The company would also like the city to sign off on a reduced parking ratio but counter that with a plan to reduce traffic as well as run a shuttle from the SMART train station. Politically, it seems unlikely Novato would fail to make the project a priority, given BioMarin’s willingness to grown in Novato as well as the city’s public stance of wanting to retain and attract biotech companies.
BioMarin’s share price has been jumping around thanks to rumors that Swiss pharma giant Roche was kicking the company’s tires. Overall, the price has been down due to a slump in biotech as well as the company’s failure to bring its muscular dystrophy drug Kyndrisa to market. On the plus side, BioMarin still has several drug candidates in the pipeline.
The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” is being filmed in and around San Rafael, and the project is doing more than giving locals a chance for their 15 minutes of fame as extras. The series, which is filming now through the holidays, is generating 11,000 room nights at $140 per night. That means hotels like Four Points Sheraton in San Rafael and Courtyard Marriot in Larkspur are booked out and the local government picks up some nice cash from the transient occupancy tax generated by the filming.
The 13-episode series is based on a novel about teenage bullying and has the star-power of director Tom McCarthy who directed Oscar winner Spotlight. It’s being co-produced by Selena Gomez of Disney fame and is bankrolled by Paramount Television.Your Marin moment
The aforementioned MEF has named Jim Cordeiro, a former biotech exec and co-founder of San Francisco-based Oceana Technologies, as its new CEO. Cordeiro also put in time at Affymetrix Inc. in Santa Clara and Nodality Inc. in South San Francisco as well as other biotech firms. He replaces Steve Lockett, who occupied the executive suite for just six months before deciding to go home to North Carolina.
With the hiring of Cordeiro, MEF signals its desire in a more formal way to attract life science firms to the North Bay. The organization is funded by sponsors including the county of Marin, Marin General Hospital, Autodesk, Whole Foods Markets, Bank of America, Kaiser Permanente and the city of Novato. The county provides up to $150,000 per year in matching cash while sponsors are on the hook for at least $10,000 per year. The forum also receives contributions from other sources as well as selling its research. It’s best known for the economic reports it’s developed via its Chief Economist Robert Eyler, an interim dean of extended and international education at Sonoma State University.
Bill Meagher is a contributing editor at NorthBay biz and an associate editor in the west coast office of The Deal in Petaluma. He lives in San Rafael.
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