Forest

Photo Katherine Minkiewicz

The Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District (NoSoCoAir), in partnership with local and state business and forestry leaders, launched the Sonoma County Biomass Business Competition (BioBiz) on Feb. 1, 2021. The competition is underway and receiving entries now through March 26, 2021. Though the north county agency is leading the competition, any local Sonoma County entity can take home one of the prizes.

The competition is a showcase of local small business innovation and seeks to turn wildfire risk in Sonoma County into an economic development opportunity. The competition will award two local entrepreneurs with $35,000 of startup funds plus select technical support services to implement their winning biomass business concepts.

NoSoCoAir, in partnership with Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center, Sonoma County Economic Development Board, CalFire, Sonoma Clean Power, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Sonoma Water and a coalition of support partners, are investing in local entrepreneurs and existing small businesses to launch wood products businesses to incentivize forest health in Sonoma County.

Forest experts, business leaders, and public officials, recognize that forest restoration is necessary to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and to maintain healthy forest ecosystems.  A recurring barrier to forest restoration activity is the removal and utilization of excess biomass that exacerbates fire fuels and alters the native ecosystems. 

The goal of the competition is to spur local small business innovation to create high value wood products from excess material of sustainable forest health and fuel reduction activities.

Competition winners will foster complementary and ongoing partnerships that support healthy forest ecosystems by reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires and avoiding the unhealthful air pollution impacts caused by wildfire smoke. 

The competition does not require applicants to provide a completed business plan, but rather a well thought-out business concept that demonstrates that it can achieve necessary criteria for implementation.

Any and all professionals, age groups and institutions that will operate as a small business are eligible and encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to small businesses operating in Sonoma County. 

Interested parties should go to the BioBiz website for additional information and to sign-up for e-mail updates at www.Biomass.Biz. Applicants are encouraged to review the Competition’s Request for Proposal to understand all the details and to submit their entry by March 26, 2021. 

The competition has two phases of review and presentations with an interdisciplinary panel of judges scoring the submissions with awards presented in mid-July 2021. Competition entries are submitted to the Competition Coordinator, Clarke Stevenson at clarke@clereinc.net.

-Submitted by Ariel Kelley, Chair, Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution District 

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