Small Sierra Businesses with Big Ideas

Several months ago I moved to the Sierra Nevada, and since then have been blown away by the many different sides of the region: amazing natural environments, visitors and residents from all over the world, unique and distinguishing culture, and most impressively- a thriving innovative business community. Working in the Sierra Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by Sierra Business Council, I have been introduced to the many exciting business ideas bubbling below the surface.  

COMM Blog EK 2015 02The Sierra SBDC works from Modoc County down to El Dorado County, helping small businesses start, grow and sustain. A small business is defined as a company with less than 500 employees, and for the Sierra that is just about every business. However,, small business does not equal small ideas. All across the Sierra there are highly skilled and creative entrepreneurs making big differences in their community.  

One new example is the Roundhouse, a maker’s space soon to be open in Truckee. The Roundhouse will be a workspace for artists, technicians, and computer scientists to collaborate, create, invent and learn. It’s a space where ideas, tools, and community learning opportunities will be shared and expanded.

In Nevada City, two women are starting an artisanal creamery to fill a much-needed void for locally crafted cheese in a growing foodie community. Using their combined skills, having experienced making cheese all over the world and having an understanding of the business side of food, they are starting Wheyward Girl Creamery.  

Starting a new business though is not as simple as taking a great idea and running with it. What we see a lot of at Sierra SBDC is a person or team with the skills and experience to create a unique business venture, but lack a few important pieces of business knowledge to put the whole picture together. Grant Barta of Tahoe Print Shop fits this description. After nearly 20 years in the photography, print and design industry Barta decided to open his own print shop and came to the SBDC for some support. With help from the SBDC managing cash flow, finances, and bookkeeping, Barta just celebrated his one-year business anniversary and is excited for many more.  

Through my time with the Sierra SBDC I have realized the different ways Sierra communities are strengthening themselves from within. By showcasing and sharing the variety of talent they are decreasing their dependency on distant large city neighbors and increasing the local economy and resources. All over the Sierra people are inventing apps, creating works of art and starting new businesses, making the region ‘bigger’ in all the right ways. I can’t wait to see what innovative ideas come out of our region next.