September 2012

Sebastian has been visiting Sierra Commons with his father Chris for some time now.  We are pleased to announce that our mentoring is paying off and that we now have an exciting new company in Nevada County. 

NerfTech's new NH1 allows you to attach laser pointers, flashlights, and other accessorys to your Nerf Gun using an innovative attachment device. The NH1 Nerf Gun accessory holder is targeted towards the millions of kids that mount cool accessories like laser pointers, scopes, cameras, spotlights, and silly string to their toy guns.

NerfTech is launcing a Kickstarter campaign to help take the company to the next level.  Check out the video below and visit the NerfTech page to see great pictures of Sebastian's patent-pending invention.



1. Write One Sentence

Time: 1 minute  Cost: $0  Outcome: Awareness

Help us help Nevada County. Tell your community why you think Sierra Commons is important to you and our local economy.  Please use the comments section below.

2. Come to Nevada City City Council Meeting Tonight

Time: 60 minutes  Cost: $0  Outcome: Civic Engagement

Tonight the Nevada City Council will consider a proposal to locate Sierra Commons' education, business incubation and co-working programs to the Nevada City Veterans' Building.

Working with the local VFW, we have identified the Veterans' Building as a great, but underutilized, public asset. Our plan (pt1 pages 16-24, pt 2), while still only an outline, is one that we think will benefit the whole community. It will improve Sierra Commons' ability to help local residents create economic opportunities for themselves, while respecting veterans' use of the building and its role as a useful community space.

Location: Nevada City City Hall
Time: Meeting starts at 6:30pm.  7:30pm is a safe time to show up.

3. Set a Lunch Date

Time: 75 minutes  Cost: $10 suggested donation   Outcome: Business education and networking

Sierra Commons Lunch & Learn series includes a presentation or roundtable discussion by some of our area’s leading business professionals.  Events are held each Tuesday from 12-1:15 in the Sierra Commons conference room.  Our next session is October 2nd? and is hosted by Pamela Biery.  Pamela will cover marketing strategies that pull together your web, PR and social media marketing.

4. Make a Financial Donation

Time: 3 minutes  Cost: $1-$1B  Outcome: A more resilient local economy

Make your tax-deductible donations now and help Sierra Commons help our local economy.  

Visit us online and click on the "Donate" button on the top right of our site.

5. Set your Passions into Action

Time: 5 minutes to register  Cost: Starting at $25  Outcome: Gaining tools to follow your passion

Sierra Commons is a proud sponsor of the upcoming Passion Into Action conference  Friday – Sunday October 12-14, 2012.

In serving as a platform for the voices of women in a variety of disciplines, the Passion into Action Conference™ (PIA) creates a space for women to meet, network, and explore ideas.  Attendees are inspired to identify their passion, support a passion, collaborate, network and more. Most importantly PIA provides tools and avenues to help shift concepts & ideas into action.

6. Get Ignited

Time: 5 minutes to register  Cost: $350 (a $1,500 value)  Outcome: Becoming an inspired local business owner

Starting October 24, 2012, Sierra Commons will present a six-week course to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams and launch a business.  More than a business plan workshop, this intensive course brings together a group of motivated entrepreneurs, and guides them through the steps needed to launch a business.

Register here

7. Support Local Business

Time: 20 minutes  Cost: $-$$$  Outcome: A stronger local economy

One of the greatest things an individual can do to support his or her local community is to patronize its locally owned businesses. Compared to their national competitors, local independent businesses recycle more money back into the local economy and give greater support to a community’s nonprofit and civic needs. They are better positioned to respond to the special needs of the community, and they are more tied to the community’s future. Additionally, unlike a homogenized Anyplace, USA, a community with vibrant independent businesses retains its unique character as a great place to live and visit.

Get going now with this handy list of local businesses Sierra Commons has helped launch.

8.  Jazz Yourself Up

Time: 5 minutes to register  Cost: $497  Outcome: Becoming an inspired local business owner

Think about how you can blend your inspiration, skills, and entrepreneurial aspirations.   Then write down the top three ideas you come up with.  Now narrow the list down to one amazing idea.  Then take one step TODAY to move forward.

Optional: Consider registering for our newest class offering YourBiz Blueprint.  We will help you create a web presence that allows you to earn a great living while following your passion.


Congratulations.  The actions you are taking now are making Nevada County a better place to live.

If you have other simple ways people can help our local economy, we want to hear from you.  Please post your comments below.

Need a WordPress class, or help with your self-hosted WordPress site?

This Fall, Cat Scholz is offering a series of live WordPress training classes and workgroups at Sierra Commons.

Students can receive hands-on direction with topics including:

  • Build a basic website with a blog
  • WordPress Security
  • Internet marketing strategies
  • Customize a site design using a custom stylesheet
  • Make your website media-rich
  • Add a shopping cart to your WordPress website 

Live in-class, Cat projects her laptop onto a large screen so she can direct students in real time. Students can ask questions in real time, and work on their own website in real time.

Because the class size is kept small (6 people maximum), each student receives individualized attention during each 2-hour class.

Cat also facilitates WordPress workgroups to support students' ongoing learning, and she is offering a free e-course on How to Build a Basic Website with a Blog using (self-hosted) WordPress and Dreamhost.

Visit BecomeaWebWeaver for more information, and to register for classes and workgroups.

About Cat:

Cat has been working with WordPress for over 5 years when she built her own website, Through her experiences building websites for The Center for the Arts, and others (see Cat's portfolio:, she has learned the best practices of working with WordPress first-hand.

Cat maintains her WordPress skills through online training and networking with other WordPress users and developers around the world.

Sierra Commons Executive Director Robert Trent will moderate a panel discussion this Friday, September 14th at the Miner's Foundry.  The title of the panel is "Micro-enterprise and Economic Resilience in Nevada County" and include panelists Steve Frisch – President Sierra Business Council, Machen MacDonald – Founder ProBrilliance Leadership Institute, and Brent Smith- CEO SEDCorp

The panel will discuss the importance of small business and micro-enterprise to our local economy.  Other panels will cover building wealth with a focus on the construction sector, moderated by the Nevada County Contractors Association,  and ERC's strategic planning progress, moderated by Jon Blinder of th Nevada County Economic Resource Council.

Elected county officials are the primary audience for the event. The meeting is open to the public and all interested parties are encouraged to attend.

The overall theme of the joint meeting is intra-county exchange of goods and services and how to improve our local goods and services to support local vendors and service providers.

See the agenda below for more details.

Joint Meeting of the Cities of Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee and County of Nevada

September 14, 2012 – Miner’s Foundry, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City, CA

“Enhancing the Economic Climate Within Nevada County”

1:15 -1:30  Call to Order for City Councils and Board of Supervisors (Duane Strawser, Mayor Nevada City)

  • Welcome to Nevada City – Nevada City Mayor Duane Strawser

1:30-2:10 Panel:  “Micro-enterprise and Economic Resilience in Nevada County” (Robert Trent, Executive Director, Sierra Commons)

  • Machen MacDonald, Sierra Commons Faculty
  • Steve Frisch, Sierra Nevada Business Council
  • Brent Smith, Sierra Economic Development Corp (SEDCorp)
  • Questions

2:10- 2:40 – Discussion

2:40- 3:10  Panel : “Building Wealth”  Nevada County Contractors Association

  • Ray Byars Jr., Byars’ Leafguard Gutter Systems
  • Keoni Allen, Sierra Foothills Construction
  • Questions

3:10 – 3:30 – Discussion

3:30- 4:15  Panel: “Strategic Planning and Survey Results”(Jon Blinder, Executive Director, ERC)

  • Judy Hess, Truckee River Bank – “Financing for Commercial Ventures
  • Lynn Wilson, Pilot Peak Winery – “ Tourism/Marketing Committee Update”
  • Jennifer Westoby, Adecco – “ Labor and Training in Nevada County”
  • Dale Creighton, SCO Engineering – “Government Regulation and Policies”
  • Robert Bergman, Nevada City Council – “ Internet/Broadband Update”
  • Questions

4:15 – Discussion

4:45 – Opportunity for Public Comment

5:00 – Close of Meeting (Mayor Duane Strawser)

Sierra Commons, Nevada County's business ignitor, is presenting a six-week course to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams of launching and growing their business. More than a business plan workshop, the course brings together a group of motivated entrepreneurs, and guides them through all of the steps needed to create a thriving enterprise. The approach is action-based and covers topics including business planning, market analysis, marketing strategies, finance, budgeting, web, business law and more. Course faculty are seasoned professionals who teach weekly classes, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to each topic. Students also meet with mentors for special one-to-one sessions and group discussions.

Building on the success of previous Buinsess Ignitor Courses, the curriculum has been refined and Sierra Commons is providing an additional three months of free membership to top performing graduates. Sierra Commons will continue mentoring and housing these graduates to further increase their business success rate.

Sierra Commons graduates are currently running some of Nevada County’s most exciting new product and service businesses. “I’ve wanted to start my own business for some time now and the classes provided me both the impetus I needed to move forward and a foundational knowledge of business structure, financials, and sales/marketing,” states Matt Vanderpol, owner of and recent Ignitor graduate. “I heartily recommend the course to anyone who has an idea for a small business but needs more information or an extra push to get him or her started.”

Space is limited to 15 participants.

To learn more about the course and complete an application go to Deadline for applications is October 12th. Sierra Commons is providing an opportunity to meet instructors and potential classmates on Tuesday, September 25th, from noon to 2:00pm at Sierra Commons.

Check out a partial list of Ignitor graduates.  You could be next!

Chuck Petch has this to say about volunteering at Sierra Commons:

Volunteering with Sierra Commons opened some wonderful new opportunities for me: it generated new business from fellow entrepreneurs who needed my services, enabled me to obtain helpful services from members, and significantly extended my network in the community. Who would have thought so much benefit could come from a small number of volunteer hours? That's the power of networking at Sierra Commons!

Chuck is a great writer and helped us get media exposure for our work with the Park Ave. High School wood shop program, helped create PR material for the Business Ignitor Course, and highlighted some of our members business accomplishments.  Chuck now has so much paid work that he is focusing all of his energy serving his clients.  We are so happy that Sierra Commons had the opportunity to work with such an inspiried individual.

Contact Chuck here and let us know if you would like to volunteer too.  We can work together to create a win-win situation for both of us.