July 2015

Sierra Commons Celebrates Their 100th Ignitor Graduate, Invites the Public to a Business Mixer

Sierra Commons, Nevada County’s coworking space and business education center, invites the public to celebrate small business in Nevada County. Sierra Commons just finished teaching its 9th Business Ignitor, an intensive incubator for small businesses and start-ups in Nevada County. To celebrate, Sierra Commons is hosting a free business mixer and celebration on Thursday July 30th at 5:30pm. Join in the fun at the Sierra Commons campus at 792 A Searls Ave in Nevada City. Food and drink will be available.



Sierra Commons has been teaching their “Business Ignitor” for five years and has taught over 100 students. The graduation of this Business Ignitor class will mark over 100 students who have completed the course. Past graduates include local business owners Erin Noel of Community Legal, Rowen White of Sierra Seeds, and Shana Maziarz of Three Forks Bakery and Brewery. The current graduating class is diverse and includes an enthusiastic group of entrepreneurs, business owners, artists, and managers. Sierra Commons has been contributing to the economic health of Nevada County and supporting small business locally for six years.

“Sierra Commons provides invaluable services to new and existing businesses,” says student and coworker Evelyn Soltero of All About Wells. “Formal classes on business operations are user friendly and truly inspiring. My favorite thing about Sierra Commons is the comradery and the collegial support I receive from other members.” Sierra Commons offers a supportive environment for independent contractors, small business owners, freelancers, and anyone who is seeking to have a community-supported work environment or a community-supported business.

Erin Noel, founder of Community Legal, is an attorney who graduated from the Business Ignitor program in 2013. She says of her venture, “Community Legal is a proud “Business Ignitor” project, dedicated to supporting the legal needs of disadvantaged people in Nevada County. Like the Business Ignitor course, we believe in people’s capacity to contribute to our economy and community. We help to provide clients with education and know-how.” After three years of development, Community Legal plans to open in August, and is currently engaged in a crowd funding campaign to give the venture a strong foundation.

Sierra Commons is excited to host a celebration of small business in Nevada County. “This event is designed to bring together small business, big business, new business, and established business in Nevada County,” says Hilary Hodge, Executive Director of Sierra Commons. “Nevada County is known for its innovation and for its support of local business. Our goal is to see businesses in Nevada County continue to thrive and we know that coming together as a community is essential to that mission.”

Sierra Commons will be celebrating its sixth year of community support this August and holds an open door to all skill levels. They house a vast range of business professionals in their coworking facility. Sierra Commons is currently enrolling for their next Business Ignitor course which will be offered in September of this year. Sierra Commons offers coworking space, conference room rental, high-speed internet, business classes, business mentoring, and daily or drop-in rates. For more information visit www.sierracommons.org or email info@sierracommons.org.

yelp300The people of Nevada County, and all small towns, need to start using Yelp.

I love that the people of Nevada County would rather ask a neighbor or browse a local forum for a restaurant recommendation before consulting a website or an app for dining advice. It shows that we have small-town pride, and that we are willing to support our small businesses on a peer-to-peer level. I have enjoyed many nights out based on friends’ recommendations.

With that said, the people of Nevada County really need to start using the mobile app, “Yelp,” on a regular basis to rate local businesses, with accolades, and to make our voices heard about our incredible Nevada County small businesses.

For those who aren’t familiar, Yelp is a mobile app that allows people to review businesses. Yelp uses GPS tracking to ensure that people who wish to make a review have actually been close enough to a business to review it. Many business owners and community members complain about Yelp because they feel like Yelp doesn’t accurately depict the merit of many of the places listed. It’s a fine line to walk. But Yelp is a crowd-sourced website so the crowd makes the call.

I’m imploring our community members to take a more attentive approach to the online health and the online reputations of our local businesses. Apps like Yelp can make a huge difference in our community. When we forego using apps like Yelp, (and other popular apps that are used all over the United States by millions of people), we allow tourists to tell the story about Nevada County and our small businesses.

I’m asking everyone who reads this article to: Check into Yelp for all of our local businesses and post an accurate review.

Many of us are comfortable getting restaurant reviews from our friends, neighbors, and coworkers. That exchange doesn’t have to stop. Our willingness to listen to local recommendations is an asset to local business. But we can’t let outsiders continue to write the conversation about our local stores and restaurants. Using apps like Yelp heeds accurate and friendly community input. We have a local responsibility to stick up for the small businesses we love. All of our local community members should be participating in the online conversation.

Write a Yelp review today.


What is a Coworking Space?

As one of the world’s few rural coworking offices, we get this question a lot.  It is rare to find a coworking space in a town with a population of just over 3,000 people.  Most coworking spaces are found in large cities.  Coworking in San Francisco and coworking in New York City is quite popular.  Coworking in Nevada County is something some folks might not expect.


A coworking space or, coworking facility, is a brick-and-mortar office space where people come together to work, exchange ideas, and share in a regular professional social environment. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization.  A coworking space offers a common roof for people who want to work with others but who are working as individuals or small groups.

Coworking is a legitimate business model used all over the world to provide structure and resources to independent working professionals. The model is attractive to work-at-home professionals, remote workers, freelancers, and independent contractors. At Sierra Commons we have many members who do off-site or field work such as farming, well-inspection, web design, and real estate appraising, but who need an office in order to complete administrative tasks such as accounting, recordkeeping, marketing, and web management. We have twelve Resident Members at Sierra Commons and over twenty Nomadic members.

Our members’ employment varies widely. Currently at Sierra Commons we have software engineers, IT directors, a travel agent, a real estate agent, copy editors, freelance writers, farmers, a lobbyist and more. Some of our members are self-employed and some of them work remotely for companies located in other cities throughout the world.

With membership, all of our members enjoy a desk rental and use of our facility which includes high-speed internet, printing-faxing-scanning capabilities, and utilities. We have private conference rooms for consultants and coworkers to meet with clients. We provide all of the overhead of a professional business environment for our members, including coffee, paper, lighting, and supplies like pens, staples and toilet paper. Membership is open to the public and available to those seeking office space. For our services, we charge a monthly fee.

Membership costs at Sierra Commons are divided into two categories: Resident Member and Nomadic Member and we also have drop-in rates.  Resident members are people who are typically working 40+ hours each week and who have a designated desk space at Sierra Commons where they can keep their computers and other office equipment as needed at their own workstation. Resident members have their own key code and can access the building 24/7. Nomadic members are those who come and go, usually bringing in their own laptop when they come in. Nomadic members have access to the building during open business hours, Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm. All members can schedule time in our conference rooms as needed and they may use Sierra Commons as their office/business address.


Coworking offers people a community while working in a professional situation that may be individual, remote, and/or sometimes isolating.  As Nevada County’s coworking space, Sierra Commons is dedicated to the health of our economy while maintaining a sense of community.  If you are interested in coworking, please feel free to contact us.