“There are no good jobs in Nevada County!” How often have you heard this?
At Sierra Commons, we hear this comment a lot. Members of the skilled and/or educated work force in Nevada County have found that it is easy to become frustrated with the lack of employment opportunities in our community. Many of the locally available jobs are in the service or tourist industry and don’t use trade skills, advanced skills and/or a college education. Some folks have started to diversify their scope of work to make extra money. Some people have taken on two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Frustrated by unfulfilling jobs, many people are turning to freelancing and contract work, as well as entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. For many people frustrated with the local economy, Sierra Commons is a beacon of hope. Sierra Commons creates good jobs in Nevada County and we keep good employees local.
Sierra Commons is probably best known for its “coworking facility,” an office space where people come together to work, exchange ideas and share in a regular professional social environment. Wikipedia offers a great definition of coworking: “It is style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. Coworking is also the social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with like-minded talented people in the same space.” Sierra Commons’ office space and education center is located at 792 A Searls Ave in Nevada City. We offer desk rental and day use, which includes high-speed internet and utilities. We have 20-30 regular members throughout the year and have regular visitors who drop in on a daily basis to our facility to take advantage of our office setting in order to work on a project or meet a looming deadline. We love the energy that both our members and visitors bring to our coworking facility.
In addition to offering a professional work environment for members and visitors, we are also a 501(c)(3) non-profit education center and business incubator. We offer continuing education to the public and to business professionals through classes and workshops. We offer confidential mentoring for sole-proprietors, managers, owners, employees and entrepreneurs who may be struggling with taking their skills or business to the next level, or who simply may need some guidance about a frustrating situation at work or a brush-up on business basics. Our goal is to ensure the local economic health of our community by offering education and support.
Our signature course is our Business Ignitor, a set of business incubator classes that takes entrepreneurs through the steps of creating and sustaining a healthy business, while helping established business owners to take an active role in their business’ stability and momentum. We help people get their businesses out of their garages and on to Main Street. We help people turn the hobbies that they love in to the careers they enjoy. We help people to stay in the careers they want to have and help entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.
Sierra Commons was founded in Nevada County five years ago, during the heart of an economic recession. What emerged was a community icon for a thoughtful and strong local economy. We want to emphasize that Sierra Commons creates good jobs. We create jobs in Nevada County that people want to have, jobs that people are passionate about. It is one thing for someone to do a mechanical job with no real connection to their employment. It is far better to have an employment opportunity where the people involved in a business feel a passion for what they are doing. As Charles Eisenstein writes in his book, Sacred Economics, “Once work has become mechanical, it is in a sense too late — inhuman work might as well be done by machines.” It is not enough to simply create jobs. We must create good jobs that people want to do. Sierra Commons knows how to create good jobs.
By providing a campus where people can come together, share ideas and get involved in a professional environment, with mentoring and professional services, ongoing education, and incubator classes, Sierra Commons is a pinnacle of economic development in Nevada County. We provide a space for employees who want to live in Nevada County but who work remotely. We provide a professional setting for freelancers, contractors and professionals who need a place to work. Sierra Commons helps start-ups and individual business people to have a space where the utilities and overhead costs are a part of a package deal, cutting down on initial cost of starting a business and allowing for businesses to be more successful in the introduction phases of doing business. Sierra Commons provides the tools for people hoping to start their own successful business. We provide an education center for all levels of business in Nevada County. Sierra Commons is not a typical entrepreneurial resource; we are a collaborative, community-focused economic program and we have a passionate commitment to see Nevada County thrive.
At Sierra Commons, our members often impress us beyond their usual work ethic, innovation and ideas. This past weekend was one of those times. Sierra Commons members Abe Miessler and Hilary Hodge were one of 670 people who participated locally in the 17th Annual Yuba River Cleanup.
The Yuba River Cleanup is an annual volunteer event organized by the South Yuba River citizens League, or SYRCL. The event is in conjunction with the Great Sierra River Cleanup sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the annual Coastal Cleanup Day, a state-wide event in California. The collaboration makes the day the largest single-day volunteer event in California. More than 4,000 people volunteered their time to help clean streams, creeks, rivers, meadows and large portions of the California Coastline.
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy announced in a press release that their efforts removed 55 tons of trash along Sierra Nevada rivers and watersheds. Our more locally-concentrated efforts were highlighted by SYRCL. SYRCL announced that “volunteers cheerfully removed over 15,946 pounds of trash and 2,000 pounds recyclables from 81 miles of river, creek and lake shoreline at 33 sites within the Yuba River and Bear River watersheds.”
The event focuses on trash removal but it is also an opportunity for conservation and restoration. Our Sierra Commons members, Abe and Hilary, signed up to remove—not trash—but blackberry bushes from a meadow along Wolf Creek. The meadow is an important part of the watershed ecosystem, allowing for safe overflow and absorption during the rainy season. The blackberry bushes inhibit the distribution of water along the meadow and may possibly create water diversions that could damage or destroy sensitive environments. By clearing the blackberries, a non-native invasive species, volunteers made way for the natural flow of water into the meadow.
Way to go Abe Miessler and Hilary Hodge!
After five years of service to Sierra Commons, Robert Trent has decided to step aside and pursue new avenues. Robert was the founder and original Executive Director at Sierra Commons. He built Sierra Commons from the ground up during a recession and helped to make Sierra Commons a sustainable co-working facility and education center. “I have been blessed with the opportunity to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in Nevada County and help individuals transform their passion into sustainable enterprises,” Robert said about his time spent at Sierra Commons. His hard work and dedication to Sierra Commons will always be appreciated and Robert Trent will always remain a friend to the organization and its members.
Robert Trent’s resignation comes at a time when Sierra Commons is blossoming and growing. Robert Trent wrote in a recent press release, “Last August, Sierra Commons celebrated its fifth anniversary. The non-profit was the first co-working facility in the Sierra Nevada, and one of the few rural co-working organizations in the world. Sierra Commons, started during the recession, was an experiment to see if western Nevada County could rebuild its economy based on the principles of community, collaboration, and innovation. The ongoing success of this experiment can be seen in the scores of new businesses and local jobs, the re-imagined careers of laid off workers, the countless “light bulb” moments at classes and community meetings that Sierra Commons continues to be a part of.”
Robert explains his decision to leave the board by saying, “After five years of serving on the Board of Directors at Sierra Commons I have decided to switch gears and focus on building new businesses from the ground up and offering private business consulting services. I plan on staying involved with the Sierra Commons community as a co-working member, mentor, and volunteer.”
The current Sierra Commons Board of Directors is a dedicated and diverse board of business professional and non-profit leaders. Robert Trent notes, “The board, along with Sierra Commons members, volunteers, and the greater business community are working together to ensure that the organization continues to serve individuals and our community.”
We thank Robert for all he has given to Sierra Commons these past five years. We wish him success on his future endeavors.
Sierra Commons is offering our signature six-week course to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams of launching and growing their business. Known as the “Business Ignitor Course” the course consists of six 3 hour evening sessions starting Thursday September 18th at 6:00 pm at the Sierra Commons office located at 792 Searls Ave, Suite A in Nevada City. 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.
This will be the sixth time that Sierra Commons has offered their Business Ignitor Course but the first time that it will be held in the evening. Building on the success of previous Business Ignitor Courses, the curriculum has been refined and tailored to serve our unique business community. As an additional perk, Sierra Commons is providing three months of free membership at their co-working facility to top performing graduates. Sierra Commons will continue mentoring and housing these graduates to further increase their business success rate.
“The Ignitor course was important to me for filling in the business-related gaps in my knowledge,” says Nick Santos, Ignitor graduate and current Sierra Commons member. “As the Executive Director of Environmental Consumer, a nonprofit that enables real, measurable reductions in environmental impact, I could manage the technical and organizational side. With the Business Ignitor course, I learned a better way to track clients and to think about business information.”
Whether someone is hoping to start a new business, or is looking for a way to revitalize an on-going project, the Business Ignitor is a great opportunity for budding entrepreneurs. It is also a wonderful way for struggling business owners to receive the mentoring and collaboration needed to make a business thrive. The course’s 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-on-one sessions and for group discussions. Small businesses benefit from collaborative entrepreneurship and Sierra Commons offers exactly that.
Sierra Commons serves the community in a variety of ways. For membership, class enrollment, to rent the conference room or to get more information, please call the Sierra Commons at (530) 265-8443 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.