The Sonoma County Economic Development Board received its newest forecast for our local economy. It is the most optimistic in years, with technology, tourism and even our wine industry slated to lead the local economy out of our recession. The County’s total employment is at its highest level since the end of 2009. Technology, particularly medical device firms, remains a key industry driving growth in Sonoma County. Demand for new medical technologies and drugs will be a positive driver. Local hotel occupancies are higher than a year ago and they no longer rely on discounted rates to fill rooms. Off and on-premise wine sales have increased in recent months. The smaller harvest will help to reduce wine inventories in 2011, following 2 years of an oversupply of quality wines. However, higher savings rates will make the shift to value permanent for many wine drinkers, limiting any gains in pricing power for high-quality wine makers, even as job and income growth accelerates. Our Per Capita Income is $47,755 in Sonoma County, higher than California’s $44,038, and higher still than the US at $40,673.
Sonoma County will maintain its high quality of life and attractiveness for high-skilled workers. However, high housing costs will keep the county as a below-average performer, at times, over the extended forecast. It is anticipated that our unemployment rate will be below 9% by the middle of 2012. Sonoma County is still one of the best places to reside and work.
This weekend is Memorial Day – there are lots of activities to consider: Bodega Bay International Short Film Festival on 5/28-29, call 707-827-3332; Antique Fair in Healdsburg, call 707-578-7772; regular tours at Luther Burbank Home & Gardens, call 707-524-5445.