Archive for May, 2011

An Optimistic Forecast!!!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

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.

Budget Issues

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

I guess it’s back to budget issues being at the forefront of news.  Sonoma County is suing the State of California to block its plan to use voter-approved local early-childhood funds for state deficit reduction.  The suit challenges recent legislation that requires Sonoma County to give up half of their fund balances in certain local First 5 Commissions—a loss of about $15.5 Million.  Five other counties have filed similar lawsuits.  In 1998 voters authorized a 50-cent tax on tobacco products to help fund programs that target early childhood health & education programs.  So, what is the cost to Sonoma County in pursuing this lawsuit?  We know what the cost is if we don’t; $15.5 Million plus minimal funds available for childhood health & education.  The fun never ends, does it?

On the other end of the teeter-totter, I read that Microsoft is going to buy Skype for $8.5 Billion (that’s right, Billion).  Skype is the largest provider of international calling services in the world.  The money that is being spent to purchase ownership or majority ownership in Internet-type companies is astounding; and, yet, our cities, counties and our State are in a big mess, economically.  This economic mess will probably be around for a while also. 

On the bright side, it is Spring, weather is great (even if it rains a little) and there are lots of activities out there to enjoy.  Our Santa Rosa local Farmers Market starts tonight, Wednesday night (5/11) at 5 pm and continues each Wednesday till about September.  Also, it is Passport Weekend in Sonoma Valley (wine tasting) this weekend.  Go and enjoy!

What Does Credit Have to do With Private Money Lending?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Nothing like the death of the most wanted man in the world to take our minds off the budget & economy.  Most likely we will see retaliations from various al Qaeda groups but hopefully they will be minimal.  I was reminded on the news last night that our country should not be defined by what happened on Sept. 11th but by what happened on July 4th.  We should never forget Sept. 11th; however, focusing on the future might ease some of the pain of the past. 

So, back to business.  What does credit have to do with private money lending?  Credit is a nebulous condition and a casualty in today’s economy.  Private money lenders consider the collateral securing the loan as the primary factor in lending; however, the borrower’s character and capacity to repay, along with an exit strategy, are very important in making the ultimate decision to lend to a borrower.  If one area is weak, the other needs to be stronger; it is a fine-line balancing act, a lot like politics.

There are some events this weekend worth considering:  The Human Race, 8 am, call 707-573-3399; don’t forget Mothers Day on Sunday.  Get outside and enjoy the gorgeous Sonoma County weather!