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

Living Our Values – Green Business Certification

Core to Sierra Business Council’s mission is our commitment to being a triple bottom line organization so it’s only natural that we would lead an effort to help small businesses adopt these principles. A triple bottom line business considers more than just economic results or profit. They also value their impact on society and the environment. We often refer to these businesses as “sustainable” or “green” and research shows that they typically deliver superior customer service, score higher in job satisfaction, and perform better financially.

Exploring Energy Use in California

Many have used the past year to take a step back and assess where their interests lie. For me, that has meant discovering my interest in data analysis and data science.

Call to Action: Why We Need Immediate Government Funding for the 2021 Fire Season

As you know, California witnessed its worst wildfire season on record in 2020. Over 4 million acres burned, costing us more than 10,000 homes and buildings and at least 33 lives (not to mention the long-term negative health impacts of the dense smoke experienced across the state). Wildfire is a natural part of California’s landscape, but today’s wildfires are out of balance due to a century of fire suppression and misguided forest management. As climate change accelerates the risk of extreme wildfire, 2020 could be the start of our new normal. In 2021, we have an opportunity to keep that from happening. If we take action now, we can help protect our communities and restore the health of our forests.

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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

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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.