Help Strengthen the Sierra

Erika Harvey

Erika Harvey

Economic Empowerment Analyst

Since the start of the pandemic, Sierra Business Council’s impact has included: 

  • Providing over 1,400 small businesses with one-on-one counseling.
  • Infusing $18.5 million in economic capital in communities across the Sierra.
  • Supporting over 4,000 jobs in the region.
  • Helped secure $536 million in early action wildfire funding for California. 
  • Deploying $1.2 million to bring reliable broadband infrastructure to rural neighborhoods. 
  • Begining a 22-county Vulnerability Assessment to better prepare the region for climate impacts. 

Over the course of the last year, Sierra Business Council met the immediate needs of the region, responding to the economic impacts of the global health crisis while also addressing ongoing issues that impact the Sierra. Our work has never been more important, which is why we’re asking for your help. 

We are again be participating in the Big Day of Giving, an annual charitable giving event organized by the Sacramento Community Foundation. We’ve been there for the Sierra this year, and now we are asking our network to show up in turn and help us continue the momentum needed to expand this important work. Early giving is now open and any contributions made now through May 6th will help Sierra Business Council reach our fundraising goal of $30,000.

Our contributors know firsthand that the Sierra Nevada is not just a beautiful place full of adventure, inspiration, and respite. It’s a system of communities embedded into the mountainous landscape, and these communities need your help. 

Sierra Business Council’s region is made up of 22 counties starting in Modoc County stretching down the Eastern side of California to Kern County. We work towards a future in which strong communities, regenerative economies, and a resilient environment are the foundation of the Sierra Nevada region. Through our work in Economic Empowerment, Regional Advocacy, and Climate Action, we work to make that vision a reality.

SBC not only benefits those of us who live and work in the mountainous region, but also those who enjoy visiting and recreating here through a wide breadth of work focused around economic empowerment, climate resilience, and statewide advocacy on behalf of the region and its natural resources. 

So how does that translate our day-to-day impact? Our current scope of projects include:

Economic Empowerment: 

We work with small businesses, local governments, and community non-profits to build the foundation for a vibrant local economy because dynamic communities are one of the most important resources the region has to offer. Thriving local economies are the backbone of Sierra communities. We elevate economic issues across the private, nonprofit, and public sectors to foster regenerative, restorative business practices and a more vibrant, resilient region.  

Vulnerability Assessment 

A project of Sierra CAMP, the Sierra Nevada Regional Climate Vulnerability Assessment will help Sierra Nevada communities prepare for climate change by examining social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities specific to our region and by providing climate planning technical assistance.

In 2020, Sierra CAMP was awarded a $191,655 Prop 68 Resilient Communities Grant from Sierra Nevada Conservancy to complete a triple-bottom-line climate vulnerability assessment across all 22 counties of the Sierra Nevada. In partnership with stakeholders throughout the region, this work will identify environmental, social, and economic climate vulnerabilities specific to the Sierra Nevada region, while also providing communities with the data and technical support they need to undertake climate planning and priority-project identification. 

Small Business Development Center (SBDC) 

We help identify funding options for new businesses, walking them through the steps that turn ideas into successful ventures. We also assist existing businesses in strategizing expansion plans and accessing capital that position them for sustainable growth. The Sierra SBDC offers free one-on-one consulting topics, including strategic planning, cash flow management, feasibility, social media, site selection, marketing, operations, human resources, and other specialty programs for small businesses and startups in the service area. 

COVID Relief Projects

Over the last year, SBC has provided critical emergency economic support, guidance, and resources to impacted businesses and nonprofits in the Sierra Nevada. Our services help sustain our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, revitalize our economy, and enhance the triple bottom line. We’ve administered over $13 million in grant funds, supported 3,488 jobs, provided direct support to 1,346 business clients between March 15th and October 1st, partnered with grassroots community supporters to launch the Resilience Fund and provide immediate economic relief, and helped local governments and businesses navigate CARES Act funding, closures, and other regulations.

Climate Action: 

We work with local governments and partners in the Sierra Nevada to increase the resiliency of our communities by proactively planning for climate change by reducing emissions now, and laying out strategies to adapt to climate impacts in the near future make our communities more efficient and vibrant.

Sierra Nevada Energy Watch

SNEW is a program implemented by Sierra Business Council to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy use in the Sierra. We work to build climate resilience as well as provide economic, environmental, and social benefits to communities in the region. SNEW serves Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Sutter, Tuolumne, and Yuba counties. The Sierra Nevada Energy Watch (SNEW) program is a partnership between Sierra Business Council and Pacific Gas & Electric Company that coordinates and helps to fund energy efficiency projects which reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The team assists communities throughout the Sierra Nevada to proactively plan for climate change by reducing GHG emissions and adapting to changes already impacting the Sierra. State mandates and a growing awareness of the impacts of climate change on Sierra communities have initiated a need for climate action planning. We use approved protocols to develop GHG emission inventories, energy action plans, facilities benchmarking, and more, so that partners have the tools they need to address climate change.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency – Greenhouse Gas Inventory of the Tahoe Basin

We recently completed a Basin-wide GHG inventory. Learn more via the link above. 

Calaveras County and Angel City 

SBC is assisting the County and City in assessing greenhouse gas emissions, identifying potential reduction strategies, and providing a GHG inventory. 

Regional Advocacy: 

We have taken advocacy on behalf of the region to a whole new level, from grassroots campaigns to region-wide coalitions to an actual lobbyist in Sacramento working on behalf of the Sierra Nevada. Thanks to SBC’s efforts, the region is being included in natural resource legislation like never before.

Wildfire Funding and Forest Resilence

Sierra Business Council advocates for increased funding to restore the health of our forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires. We work with local experts, state conservancies, tribal leaders, and forest managers to identify best practices, needs, and opportunities centered around restoring our natural systems and increasing our region’s resilience. An effective restoration strategy needs to utilize all tools in the toolbox: ecologically-based forest thinning, prescribed fire, managed fire, cultural burning, working forest conservation easements, defensible space, home hardening, and emergency response. It is vital that California expands support for and understanding of each of these tools.

Over the last year, SBC has provided critical emergency economic support, guidance, and resources to impacted businesses and nonprofits in the Sierra Nevada. Our services help sustain our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, revitalize our economy, and enhance the triple bottom line. For many of these efforts, SBC relies on the generosity of our supporters. 

That’s why we are excited to be participating in this year’s Big Day of Giving, a 24-hour period to celebrate your favorite regional nonprofits and give where your heart is – it’s also a day where your generosity goes further. 

We hope you’ll join us in supporting SBC’s Big Day of Giving campaign by making a contribution here. 

Help strengthen the Sierra by helping Sierra Business Council reach our goal of $30,000 by the Big Day of Giving, May 6th. Click here to make your early contribution today and check “supporting SBC” off your to-do list.

Read More Recent Blogs

Not if But When

It’s one thing to follow the news reports and social media videos of wildfire damage from afar, mentally preparing yourself for what it might be like to try and identify the skeletal remains of a structure as your own family’s cabin or home. Or see the tornados of fire set ablaze against a hillside you’ve traversed hundreds of times by car or by foot. Or watch a community you know and love evacuate by the thousands, their whole lives crammed into one carload.

It’s another thing entirely when it happens for real.

From Beyond the Line of Fire: Living through largest single fire in California History

As we contemplated go-bag contents and watched the relentless advance of the Beckwourth, River, Tamarack, and especially the Dixie fire over the last few weeks, one of our dearest Small Business Development Center counselors, Clint Koble was smack in the middle of the devastation. Clint lives at and manages a resort in Chester along Lake Almanor. Over the course of several days, Clint holed up at the resort, guarded by the command of fire fighters he so graciously hosted. The firefighters instructed him to park his car on the boat ramp and to take refuge in the car should the flames approach – they would protect him.

Guest Blog: Sierra SBDC Sierra SBDC’s In-Home Childcare Training Program Announced

The ripple effect of COVID-19 is still being felt in the Sierra and beyond. As the following guest blog (written by SBDC Business Advisor, Danielle Marshall) highlights, one area in particular where we’re still reeling from the pandemic is its disproportionate impact on women (especially women of color). We’re excited to announce an upcoming course taught by Danielle later this year that will hopefully help lessen the obstacles women face in reentering the workforce by helping entrepreneurs start in-home childcare businesses.

Photo of working mom by Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

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Understanding our Vulnerabilities—And Our Choices—in the Sierra

Sierra CAMP, a program of Sierra Business Council, is currently undertaking a regional vulnerability assessment to examine how Sierra Nevada communities will be affected by projected climate changes. We have already seen the massive impact that climate change can have in its multiple forms on our communities in the mountains.

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Sierra CAMP and sustainable recreation

It may seem strange that a climate collaborative is hosting a panel discussion on recreation, economic recovery, and equity. What in the world does any of this have to do with climate change and adaptation? The answer is everything…

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When the Dust Settles

It was a seemingly straightforward question from a close friend of mine, “Why are these wildfires getting worse and what are we doing about it”? At some point during my stammering, convoluted, and completely uninsightful response I realized that my job leads me to dig so deeply into the nuanced details of issues like wildfire and climate change that I’m awful at explaining what the heck is going on to anyone outside of my professional bubble.