Strictly Business: SPARC opening, student job fair, 4-day work weeks

SPARC it up

Sonoma’s first marijuana dispensary is set to open today, April 20, taking advantage of the 4/20 number that is often celebrated in cannabis culture. Located in a former Mexican restaurant at 19315 Sonoma Highway, the dispensary will offer 30% off many products on opening day.

SPARC cultivates cannabis in Glen Ellen at its biodynamic-certified farm. The company, which also has a cannabis store in San Francisco, manufactures and distributes its cannabis products at its headquarters in Santa Rosa.

“We have years of experience in advocating for, launching and operating cannabis retail, and thus are confident we’ll deliver the people of Sonoma, the city government and our partnering nonprofits excellent service,” owner Erich Pearson told the Index-Tribune last week.

Angie Sanchez.
Angie Sanchez.
Michael Irvine.
Michael Irvine.
Lauren Kershner.
Lauren Kershner.

Forty under 40

The North Bay Business Journal’s annual Forty Under 40 Awards celebrated young professionals during an event on Tuesday, April 19, at the Barlow in Sebastopol. Included were three Sonoma Valley residents, who have been making waves in the business world.

Angie Sanchez, 34, is the founder and executive director of VIDA, which seeks to celebrate culture with events aimed at the Latinx community. Lauren Kershner, 33, owns Goodness Gracious Catering, Songbird Parlour, and Valley of the Moon Kombucha Co. in Glen Ellen. Michael Irvine, 38, is the VP of development and marketing of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley.

Another set of 13 recipients were named Forty Under 40’s “One’s to Watch.” They included Valley residents Molly Curley O'Brien, 36, director of grants and government programs at After the Fire USA; Olga Komar, 37, attorney and owner of Law Office of Olga Komar; Rebecca Shippert, 39, special event planner at Radiant Logic, Speedway Children’s Charities, Shippert Racing Services and Crossflow Cup in Sonoma; and Joe Hardeman, 38, vice president of program operations at Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley.

A balloon arch in the school’s colors greeted students to the first day of limited in-person classes on the Sonoma Valley High School campus on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)
A balloon arch in the school’s colors greeted students to the first day of limited in-person classes on the Sonoma Valley High School campus on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)

SVHS Job Fair

Local businesses and employers looking for summer or recent graduate employees are invited to participate in Sonoma Valley High School’s Youth Job Fair on Wednesday, May 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the school. To participate, fill out the online form, or email Wendy Swanson, the school’s Work-Based Learning Coordinator, at

‘Counting’ the awards

Up until recently, many of 100 characters George Webber was known by many as “The Count,” aka Count Agoston Haraszthy, the founder of Buena Vista Winery. Webber spent years wandering the property and the country, portraying the historical figure on behalf of the winery’s current owner, Jean-Charles Boisset.

And while he recently hung up his cane, Sonoma County Tourism will honor his work as The Count with a Legacy Award at the Stars of the Industry event on May 3 in Santa Rosa. According to its website, the award “recognizes someone with an established history within the Sonoma County hospitality industry who has shown dedication to their profession through many years of exceptional service – leaving an enduring legacy.”

These days, Webber is offering private historical tours around the Plaza. You can pick which character he plays, a learn a little more about the back stories of our region’s past. Visit for details.

Better Homes and Gardens meets Ming Tree Realtors

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wine Country Group, headquartered in Sonoma, has partnered with Ming Tree Realtors, based in Eureka.

The combined organization now consists of 12 offices and more than 180 affiliated sales associates serving Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake and Humboldt counties. Ming Tree Realtors, a family-owned firm serving Humboldt County for 50 years, will operate as Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Ming Tree as part of the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wine Country Group family of companies.

Last year, their combined success included 1,081 transaction sides equating to more than $510 million in sales volume in 2021. This partnership will grow the company by approximately 25%.

Randy Coffman, president, and Gerry Snedaker, broker/partner, will remain in their current leadership roles for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wine Country Group.

Awesome architecture

Your Modern Cottage, a home design website for modern living, recognized the best of the best in its inaugural Design Awards Competition recently.

The program celebrated residential home designs in the U.S. that reflect three principals: homes designed for the uniqueness of the clients, homes built for today and the future and homes that are a retreat from the complexities of our world.

Sonoma architect Amy Alper was awarded an honorable mention in the New Modern Cottage Category for her project, The Calistoga Estate. Hers was the only project from California to receive an award. Her work can be seen at her website, and @alperarchitect on Instagram.

4-day work week?

From the Los Angeles Times: A proposed bill winding its way through the state Legislature could make California the first state in the nation to reduce its workweek to four days for a large swath of workers.

The bill, AB 2932, would change the definition of a workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours for companies with more than 500 employees. A full workday would remain at eight hours, and employers would be required to provide overtime pay for employees working longer than four full days.

The bill was authored by Assembly Members Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Evan Low (D-San Jose).

Reached by phone, Garcia said the idea was prompted in part by the exodus of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of whom were seeking a better quality of life. More than 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We've had a five-day workweek since the Industrial Revolution,” Garcia said, “but we've had a lot of progress in society, and we've had a lot of advancements. I think the pandemic right now allows us the opportunity to rethink things, to reimagine things.”

Unemployment in Sonoma County is back down to 3%.. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)
Unemployment in Sonoma County is back down to 3%.. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)

Unemployment rate drops

Unemployment rates dipped in all six of the North Bay’s counties in March, with all but one beating California’s unemployment rate, which dropped to 4.9% compared to February, according to state figures released Friday.

Across the North Bay in March, Marin County’s unemployment rate was 2.4%, followed by Sonoma County’s at 3%, according to the Employment Development Department. Napa County reported a 3.2% unemployment rate, followed by 3.9% in Mendocino County. Solano County had an unemployment rate of 4.6% and Lake County trailed at 5%.

California has now regained nearly 90% of the jobs lost during March and April of 2020 due to the pandemic, according to the EDD. — North Bay Business Journal.

Emily Charrier is always looking for business tidbits to share, email her at

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette