Welcome to the Best Of the North Bay issue of NorthBay biz magazine. Inside, we reveal the 2007 winners of our annual readers’ poll, and you’ll get a glimpse of why they were voted the Best in the North Bay. This year’s response was, once again, among the largest in the 18 years we’ve been conducting this poll. There were more than 1,100 ballots cast by our readers, which translated to almost 24,000 votes in the 38 different categories. There were more than 1,200 companies and individuals who garnered votes, which underscores the depth and quality of the North Bay’s companies. Given the extent of the competition, the winners are justifiably proud to have emerged as the Best. Often, the vote totals were close; that’s why, several years ago, we began awarding Gold Medals to the companies that finished second in the voting. All this year’s Gold Medal winners are listed on page 119. Also this year, we’ve included a list of companies (p. 121) that have won the Best Of designation more than once over the past several years.
The awards night party this year will take place May 10 at the new Vintner’s Inn/John Ash & Co. Events Center. The evening wouldn’t be possible without the support of all our fine sponsors: Ghilotti Construction, Discovery Office Systems, Bank of the West, Christopherson Homes, Vintners Inn/John Ash & Co., D&S Awards, Infineon Raceway and SouthWest Airlines. I’d like to thank them all, in advance, for their help making it a night to remember.
Pouring their award-winning wines that night will be: Ferrari-Carano, La Crema, J Vineyards & Winery, St. Francis, Seghesio Family Vineyards and Stags’ Leap Winery. The food complementing the award-winning wine promises to be a feast in its presentation, quality and variety, thanks to the fine catering staff of the Vintners Inn/John Ash & Co. Event Center. Also, David Correa and Cascada will set the right mood with their distinctive music.
Congratulations to all the winning companies, thanks to our staff for all they do (every day) and thanks to all our NorthBay biz readers, who took the time to vote for the Best Of the North Bay. We’re looking forward to another outstanding, memorable event.
The vast majority of companies winning an award this year are, by definition, “small businesses.” While there are differing definitions of what constitutes a small business, according to the Office of Advocacy, “a small business is an independent business having fewer than 500 employees.” Since I’m writing this column on Monday, April 23, and the U.S. Small Business Administration has designated April 23-27 as National Small Business Week, it seems appropriate to extol the virtues of these “small” companies. Small Business Week celebrates all entrepreneurs and encourages others who dream of starting their own business to take those first steps.
Here’s a partial list from the SBA of just how important small business is to our national economy.
• Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms;
• Employ half of all private sector employees;
• Pay more than 45 percent of total U.S. private payroll;
• Have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the past decade;
• Create more than 50 percent of non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP);
• Produce 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than large firms;
• Are employers of 41 percent of high-tech workers;
• Are 53 percent home-based and 3 percent franchises and;
• Comprised 97 percent of all exporters and produced 28.6 percent of export value.
As I mentioned earlier, there are several definitions of what constitutes a small business, and which definition applies varies with circumstance. One of the strictest defines a small business as any firm with less than 20 employees, so it’s really interesting to note that these tiny firms spend 45 percent more per employee than larger firms to comply with federal environmental regulations and 67 percent more per employee on tax compliance than their larger counterparts.
When it comes to startups and closures, there are approximately 671,800 new companies formed each year as opposed to 544,800 that close their doors. When it comes to job creation, small companies really shine. In the most recent year with complete data (2003), firms with fewer than 500 employees created 1,990,326 net new jobs, whereas firms with more than 500 employees shed 994,667 net jobs. And the latest research indicates that two-thirds of new employer establishments survive at least two years, while 44 percent survive at least four years. Major factors in a business’ survivability include an ample supply of capital, being large enough to have employees, the owner’s education level and the owner’s reason for starting the business in the first place.
Small business is booming in California:
• The nation’s 25 million small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms in America, and approximately 3.5 million of these businesses are located in California.
• California’s small companies created more than 230,000 net new jobs between 2002 and 2003.
• California’s small businesses provide more than 6.9 million jobs statewide.
• The majority of small firms in California are in the professional services, technology, construction and health care industries.
And as small businesses grow, they’re fueling the growth of new services, including human resources (HR) outsourcing, payroll and accounting services as well as technical assistance firms, to mention just a few. Which means all this small business proliferation is actually helping spawn other new businesses to help support the enterprises.
So, congratulations to all the small business entrepreneurs who make it happen day-in and day-out. And congratulations, once again, to all the winners of this year’s Best Of the North Bay reader’s poll. That’s it for now. Enjoy the magazine.
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