Sierra Business Council
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Organization Details


The Sierra Small Business Development Center (SBDC) helps entrepreneurs start, grow, and sustain businesses. The Sierra SBDC provides free one-on-one consulting and workshops to small businesses on a variety of topics including: lean start up, cash flow management, financial planning, marketing and branding, sales strategies, business planning, and access to capital. The Sierra SBDC believes in the power of small businesses to create thriving local economies.

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the Sierra SBDC provides critical economic emergency support and resources to businesses in the Sierra that have been severely impacted. The team provides access to capital for Sierra small businesses through information about the federal and state resources available to them. Their goal is to support a sustainable new economy by fostering a renewed entrepreneurial ecosystem through no-cost one-on-one consulting to small business owners, helping their businesses start, grow, and thrive.
Program Successes
- In 2019, the Sierra SBDC served 515 unique clients with free one-on-one business consulting.
- Helped create 109 new jobs and retain 1045 jobs in the region.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the Sierra SBDC has ramped up consulting offerings, helping small businesses apply for and secure loans, track federal and state emergency response resources, and increasing the number of consultants ready to serve and support Sierra small businesses.

From Associate Director, Jessica Carr:
"SBDCs have been in existence for nearly 40 years, but we are never more critical than in times of economic instability and crisis. The Sierra SBDC is your community partner in surviving the COVID-19 hardships. From assisting businesses with the SBA Economic Injury loans to creative cash flow management to simply listening and problem-solving with you, navigating the new landscape for your employees, and digesting the federal legislation, we are here to help. I am speaking with nearly 70 businesses per day that are all facing the challenges of COVID-19. These businesses range from self-employed acupuncturists to service providers and restaurants, retail shops and childcare centers. Our small businesses need our support right now, and the Sierra SBDC is here to help navigate these challenges with a team of expert advisors who are all hands on deck for the business community."
The mission of the Gold Country Broadband Consortium (GCBC) is to close the digital divide for rural mountain county residents. In partnership with locally owned internet service providers and local governments, the Consortium is working to increase digital access and use of high-speed broadband in designated counties in the Sierra Nevada, including: Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Sierra, and eastern Alpine counties. GCBC seeks to bring digital equity and accessibility in education, healthcare and workforce development to the region to close the ever-widening gap in regional between disparities in opportunities. A dependable and affordable network also enables communities to obtain access to safety, distance learning, telehealth, entertainment, economic opportunities, utilities, and infrastructure systems that require broadband connectivity to operate.
Program Successes
- Working with local internet service providers, SBC has sought millions of dollars in state and federal funding to further expand broadband access.
- In 2019, SBC managed the Nevada County Last-Mile Broadband Grant, awarding $250,000 in funds to expand local broadband projects.
- Last year SBC completed and submitted a comprehensive broadband expansion plan for Nevada County.
Sierra Business Council's Government Affairs team works with local, regional, and statewide partners to stand up for the Sierra Nevada region on things that matter to our communities. The team advocates on wildfire resilience and forest health, watershed restoration, climate change, internet access, affordable housing, jobs, sustainable outdoor recreation, and other issues affecting the communities, economies, and environment of the Sierra.

SBC monitors and weighs in on California state policy and occasionally federal policy. Whether it's tracking agency grant programs, developing partnerships, weighing in on draft regulations, commenting on legislation, testifying in hearings, or campaigning to pass ballot measures, SBC's advocacy network is standing up for the Sierra. The Government Affairs team accepts requests for advocacy support, coordination or partnership on a continuous basis.
Program Successes
- Tahoe Truckee Mountain Housing Council: SBC coordinates a sub-committee of the Tahoe-Truckee Mountain Housing Council dedicated to weighing in on State housing policy in legislative, budgetary, funding, and policy implementation in an effort to find solutions to the affordable housing crisis in the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee region.

- Natural Resource Advocacy: SBC coordinates a coalition of Sierra-based conservation and community-based organizations to advocate on wildfire, natural resource, water, and climate policies.

- California Tahoe Conservancy Policy Tracking: SBC tracks natural resource policies, agency efforts, and funding opportunities related to forestry, recreation, watershed management, and other issues affecting the jurisdiction of the California Tahoe Conservancy).

- Sierra CAMP: The Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership tracks state climate policy and provides policy-related educational and coordination opportunities for Sierra CAMP members, in addition to other activities. Sierra CAMP supports the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA) in reviewing and providing feedback to state agencies on climate adaptation policy and funding guidance, implementation, and coordination efforts. See more information here, or view the Sierra CAMP website.

- Community Choice Energy and Rural Issues Advocacy: SBC has tracked energy policy and agency regulations for Pioneer Community Energy, a community choice aggregation energy provider for communities in Placer County, since 2016.

- Ad-Hoc Key Issues: SBC engages on an ad-hoc individual or partnership basis on critical efforts not captured through other advocacy initiatives, such as key wildfire, biomass, and forest policy or small business development policy opportunities responding to recent or immediate crises, etc.

SBC increased advocacy efforts have paralleled overall funding increases for the Sierra's communities and natural resources at the state level, as seen in Proposition 1, Proposition 68, and the proposed 2020 Climate Resilience Bond.
The Climate & Energy Team assists communities throughout the Sierra to proactively plan for climate change by reducing emissions and adapting to changes already impacting the Sierra. The team works closely with local governments, school districts, public agencies, and community members to conduct greenhouse gas inventories, develop emissions reduction plans, and to execute projects that make their communities more resilient, efficient and vibrant. The team has also developed and supported the implementation of over a dozen Energy Action Plans (EAPs) and Climate Action Plans (CAPs) that serve as roadmaps for communities to follow while achieving their climate and energy goals.
Program Successes
- Completed Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventories for 30 local governments and public agencies in the Sierra Nevada region. These inventories allow jurisdictions to begin compliance with AB 32 (Global Warming Solutions Act) by first understanding where their emissions come from and how they can be reduced.
- Developed 12 Energy Action Plans for local governments, which build upon their GHG inventories and set specific strategies and actions for how they can reduce their emissions relating to energy use. Assisted these jurisdictions with initial implementation in order to show real energy savings in the short term, and ensure the plans take root in the community.
- Convened local climate champions and community stakeholders to kickstart and support 8 community working groups with the goal of implementing the strategies and goals of their respective jurisdiction's EAPs.
- Stimulated local economies by encouraging local developers to build more sustainable projects that have a goal of GHG emissions reduction and matching these projects with statewide GHG reduction funding. To date, SBC has played a role in infusing $18M into such developments.
- Partnered with utility representatives and contractors to deliver cost-effective energy efficiency solutions and program services to local governments, school districts, and public agencies in 11 counties in the Sierra Nevada region. Since 2010, the Climate & Energy Team has saved over 25 million kWh of energy and served thousands of customers.
- Over the last few years, the team has assisted customers with over $1 million in 0% financing options to get their energy efficiency projects off the ground.
The Sierra Nevada Geotourism Project seeks to celebrate the Sierra Nevada as a world-class destination while contributing to its economic health and promoting long-term stewardship of the region. The Sierra Business Council and Sierra Nevada Conservancy have partnered to work with the National Geographic Society to capture the history and heritage of the Sierra Nevada region through an interactive website and print map. Backpackers and foodies, birders, and sightseers can discover unique destinations based on recommendations from those who know best - residents of the Sierra Nevada.
Program Successes
- 1,900 recommendations written by Sierra Nevada residents are featured on the Sierra Nevada Geotourism web site.
- The web map receives over one million content views per year and 30,000 unique visitors per month on average.
- 160,000 printed MapGuides are distributed throughout the Sierra Nevada and California.
- Additionally, people from 108 different countries access and use the Geotourism web map.
The Sierra Climate Adaptation & Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP) empowers and convenes Sierra leaders from government, business, academia, and community groups to develop broader support for investment for restoration of the Sierra Nevada region. Sierra CAMP starts by bringing together key voices within the Sierra region, but it goes a step farther by also engaging urban downstream communities and decision-makers in crafting solutions. It is Sierra CAMP's vision to have community leaders from Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and the Bay Area urging lawmakers to invest in the upper watershed as a strategy to ensure reliability of their water, energy, recreation and other resources. As the state makes historic decisions about where to invest billions in new and existing funding, Sierra CAMP offers a collaborative mechanism for ensuring that the connection between urban population centers and the rural resources they depend on is recognized and valued.
Program Successes
- In 2017, Sierra CAMP's membership expanded to 30 local government, nonprofit, business and public members.
- We engaged and informed hundreds of Sierra stakeholders through webinars on California climate policy and forestry and biomass policy, and we hosted a series of talks from UCLA scientists on cutting edge climate research for the Sierra.
- We educated state policymakers on the unique needs of our region through Sierra-based listening sessions associated with the CA Energy Commission and the 4th Climate Assessment, and sixteen comment letters regarding legislation or agency programs.
- We continue to work with urban partners to build awareness and investment in upper watershed management.