Butte County EDC Logo Innovate, Initiate, Implement
Three "I's" That Mean Business ...
In This Issue
iHub is Hopping!
News to Use or You'll Lose ...
ADA Compliance Class ...
Have a Say! Local Development Meetings Offer a Chance
Catch Butte Views & Beyond Radio Show This Thursday!
Blowing Glass in Gridley ... It's a Gas!
Construction Industry Speed Dating is a Hit!
Crazy like a Fox: Mary's Gone Crackers Prospering in Gridley!
iHub Innovation Lab Makes its Debut in Chico

Moby wrap


Moby Wrap   



The Innovation Lab, located in the Hegan Lane Business Park in Chico, debuted last week. People gathered to hear product and service pitches, view local manufacturers and products and enjoy refreshments.    

Bender Brothers




The lab anchors the North State iHub, which was established with seed funding from the Governor's Green Innovation Challenge Grant.

Sustainable Mfg

Sustainable Manufacturing Offered at CSU, Chico  



The purpose of the iHub and Innovation Lab is to help businesses with new and scalable innovative products; and to help services to grow and remain viable in the North State.   


Clean Flame iHub



News to Use or You May Lose ...   


Butte County has set up a public outreach meeting to contractors, owner builders, developers, etc to be able to come in discuss any concerns issues, new materials, new building division forms, processes, new building codes, etc every other month for a two-hour period.


Meetings are scheduled for 3pm-5pm June 23, Aug. 18, Oct. 20 and Dec. 8, at 202 Mira Loma Dr. in Oroville. 


An agenda will be sent out two weeks in advance of meeting.

Topics discussed at the meeting in April covered:
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms - How ALL permits (water heater, HVAC, photo voltaic, attached patio covers, reroofs, etc) with valuations of $1,000 or more require smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to be installed. Battery-operated ones are allowed.
  • Green Building Code requirement forms - new forms are required at permit application in response to the 2010 New codes which went into affect January 2011. Explanations on how to use the forms and why they are required was discussed.
  • New CSLB placards - New placard posting requirements on job sites was discussed.
For more information, please call Nancy Springer, Interim Building Official at 530-538-7159.

ADA Class

 Handicap placard

Butte County held a class open to business owners, contractors, developers, etc to discuss the American Disabilities Act and T-24 Accessibility as outlined in the Building codes and how it affects business.

According to Nancy Springer, Interim Building Official, the class was attended by about 19 people. Key speakers informed the audience on recent law suits and ADA compliance, including recent ones in Sutter County. It was mentioned individuals pursuing lawsuits in Sutter County may be headed toward Butte County - thus the class offering.

The class featured Mark Wood and Paul Klein as well as a Q&A session at the end.

Mark Wood has worked for the City of Davis for 20 years, first as a plans examiner and for the past 10 years as Chief Building Official.

Paul Klein, CBO, CASp is co-owner and principle with California Certified Accessibility Specialists, Inc. Paul has worked for several jurisdictions in the greater Sacramento area over the last two decades as a building inspector, senior plans examiner, assistant building official and chief building official. Paul is currently serving on the California Association of Building Officials (CALBO) Access Committee.
Call Nancy Springer at 538-7159 or email her

[email protected] for more information.   




Local Area Development Staff Hold Meetings to Bring Consistency and Ease of Operation to Users


Every other month the local building officials from various jurisdictions meet - from 5pm-6pm (on their own time) with one another to discuss the new codes and current issues, as well bring consistency among the various cities and county.  

"We are working on trying to create the same handouts," said Interim Building Official Nancy Springer of the County of Butte.  

"We would like to identify minor differences by our county and city logos."

The County of Butte, City of Chico, City of Oroville, City of Gridley, Town of Paradise, City of Orland, Sutter County, and Willows all participate.

Butte Views & Beyond Radio Show from 6pm-7pm Thursday, May 19 on KZFR 90.1FM
KZFR logo
Catch Debra Lucero's  interviews with Bryon Sutherland, Roberta Kirshner of Kirshner Wildlife Foundation

and others this Thursday!


If you or a business colleague would like to be highlighted in this newsletter - a product of the

Butte County Economic Development Corporation 


Please contact Debra Lucero or call 530.228.2860.


To us, "Economic development" is a verb not a noun. We need action. We need creative partnering. We need jobs and increased commerce in the North State. Think local. Think regional. Think BIG possibilities.


Butte County Economic Development Corporation is ready to assist. Staying connected is essential. Understanding our local assets and businesses is also essential.


Pass this along to someone you think may want to INNOVATE, INITIATE OR IMPLEMENT economic concepts in the North State. Let us help ... Look to the Three "I's" newsletter for the latest Information.


Wait! Is that a fourth "I" - Information?



Debra Lucero
Butte County Economic Development Corporation  


We are funded, in part, by the County of Butte and private business throughout the region.


Butte County EDC Logo



Butte County Logo


Bank of America Logo

InterWest Insurance 



Blowing Glass in Gridley: Bryon Sutherland Works Hard to Create National Marketplace
Bryon Sutherland Blowing Glass 2

Gridley resident Byron Sutherland has been on a dead run since 2006. That's when he evaluated his situation as a freelance artist who was renting studio space to blow glass.


"I did some wholesale shows and started to get some big orders," said Sutherland, who earlier had worked and developed his skills at Chico's famous Orient and Flume - a glassblowing studio pioneer of the 70s.  


"I couldn't keep up with the orders ... It was in the back of my mind ... having my own studio ... it just seemed to be too expensive and out of reach."  


Charla (his then girlfriend and now his wife of five years) worked to support the young couple at the Starbucks on Highway 99 in Gridley.


"I needed studio space and I needed equipment," Sutherland said, a graduate of California State University, Chico, with a bachelor's degree in fine arts and an emphasis in glass sculpture.


According to Sutherland, Audrey Taylor of Chabin Concepts had the answer. She was assisting the City of Gridley with economic development at that time. Taylor helped him find studio space and connected him with 3CORE - a private, non-profit corporation that works as an economic development planning and coordinating agency that specializes in small business loans for Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties.

 Bryon Sutherland Blowing Glass in Gridley

"I needed a furnace - the heart of any studio - and those run $15,000-$30,000. I also needed cushion money to pay bills and get everything rolling."


Sutherland's Gridley location is part of a 35-acre abandoned fruit cannery that was once one of the largest peach and pumpkin canning operations in the world. Today, ironically and perhaps poetically, Sutherland blows "Fizzlefruit" peaches and pumpkins there. This 900-years-old Venetian technique carbonates glass with baking soda, creating the effervescent effect.


Fizzle Apples Fizzle Citrus


Sutherland studied in New York at the renowned Corning Museum of Glass with Bill Gudenrath, master Venetian glass artist, for whom he later worked, by invitation, as his teaching assistant.


Fizzle Pears 

Sutherland admits that his bread and butter are the gorgeous Fizzelfruit where the skin of the sculpture has a transparent appearance and the core of the paperweight explodes with bubbles. "It makes them look wet," he said.


Currently, Sutherland features Fizzlefruit varieties in three apples, three pears, three citrus, three plums, a peach and a strawberry and three colored grapes - a glass cornucopia of beauty. There are 17 different fruit items designed for collectors and he has plenty of admirers at $40 a piece or three items for $100. Pumpkin and peppers are blown, not sculpted, and feature no carbonation. You can find them at Sutherland Glass Art.


Fifflefruit isn't his only specialty. Sutherland said he recently installed his first chandelier in Redwood City. He also makes beautiful vases and sculptures inspired by the sea. 


Remember the dead run?


Sutherland did 63 shows last year all over the country - 30 by himself. He does have an assistant, Josh Freidas. Word is that he's been invited by Costco to a wholesale show in Nevada. His work is also in major galleries throughout the United States and Canada. It takes more than hard work to make it, though - especially in a challenging economic environment.  


To purchase or learn more about Sutherland Glass Art, please visit  

 Sutherland Glass Art. The best way to keep Bryon and his family in Butte County is to help spread the word. Become a fan.  


Construction "Speed Dating" by Valley Contractors Exchange & Butte County EDC, receives "Very Good" marks by attendees

Modern Building

Subcontractors Louis Brooner and Tim Rider of Meek's enjoy a bite to eat with General Contractor James Seegert of Modern Building

Amidst one of the most severe construction industry events to hit our nation and California, Butte County Economic Development Corporation and Valley Contractors Exchange teamed up to help reconnect this decimated industry sector. Participants included contractors from Yuba City to Chico and all points in between.

"We knew were weren't out to solve every issue but we truly wanted to humanize the construction industry process," Debra Lucero, Executive Director of Butte County Economic Development Corporation said.

"I can't tell you how important and valuable this event was to our industry," Kate Leyden, CEO of Valley Contractors Exchange expressed after the event. "I can't even put a dollar figure on it; it's like planting a tree. It's going to grow. It just takes time."

Leyden and staff have heard many good comments - from the expansion of bid lists by local contractors to new contacts to simply being uplifted in an industry where good news is rare and deals even more rare.

One of the main goals was to reconnect the construction industry - starting with a face-to-face meeting. "We wanted to introduce (or in some instances, re-introduce) general contractors to subcontractors and public officials to private individuals and so forth. We wanted people to shake hands and see the individuals on the other end of a potential bid or business transaction," Lucero said.

More than 70% of participants said they made a NEW business connection, with one actual deal made on the spot; and 13 respondents saying they had a future promise of some kind of deal.

"I really had to drag myself here today," one plumbing contractor confessed. "I got out of bed and realized I had nothing to lose. It's been good ... really good."

The event, while not a magic cure for an economy that continues to yield new, unrelenting surprises, created an incredible by-product of hope. People reconnected after months or even years of not seeing one another. They opened up to new contracting possibilities and just plain had a good time.

Darryl of Darryl's Painting in Oroville said, "I literally got four potential bid opportunities out of this event. That makes it worth while."

Speed Dating Construction Tables

HOW IT WORKED - Each of the 11 General Contractors were positioned in stationary positions (at tables with identifying letters). The Subcontractors strategically rotated to each of the General Contractors throughout the two-hour period. This was a busy, loud time of business but it went quickly. The 5-minute limit was enforced to assure each Subcontractor met face-to-face with each of the General Contractors and informed them of their skills, licenses, capabilities and availability. They exchanged cards.

Our goals were to:


1) Give general contractors a good update on what's new, what's happening and who's involved.

LaMalfa Speaking at Construction Event

Senator Doug LaMalfa addressed public members as well as Construction "Speed Dating" participants during the morning session.  


The event started with Senator Doug LaMalfa and Assemblyman Dan Logue who gave participants a legislative update on what's happening on a state level. Participants wanted more time with the legislators but they were both on an extremely tight timelines. We were fortunate and grateful they both made the effort to come.  

Logue at Construction Speed Dating Assemblyman Dan Logue emphasized the importance and power of local policymakers and how businesses need to be vigilant and involved on the local level. "Government needs to be about customer service," he said. "People in this room are just trying to do business. (Government) shouldn't be a road block to those efforts." 


Following the legislative update, 23 people from the cities of Gridley, Chico, Oroville and the County of Butte as well as folks from Butte College and Chico Unified School District updated attendees on what public work and development is happening or planned.


Public Panel Construction Speed Dating

Michael Miller, Director of Facilities Planning & Management, Butte-Glenn Community College District addresses the crowd while Mike Crump, Director of Department of Public Works; and Nancy Springer, Interim Building Official for the County of Butte; and Bruce Nash, Engineer, Rolls Anderson Rolls, City of Gridley, look on.  


Additionally, we had a private development panel cast vision about what they see as the future of development in the area and what's in the works.

"Not much," was the consensus of that panel with a flip-flop in activity from 85% private to now 85% of activity being public and just 15% being in the private sector. Tom Varga, Director of Capital Project Services for the City of Chico reported permit activity was pretty much in a "free fall" from 2004 to 2008 with the worse years occurring in 2009 and 2010. It appears, Varga said, things are stabilizing in 2011, which is seeing twice as many remodel and energy upgrades.

Additionally, Varga said construction valuation ($50 million in 2004 hit a high of $90 million in 2008 and then began to fall. It appears 2011 is on target to see $70 million).

2) Reconnect or introduce subcontractors to general contractors and others ...

Eleven General Contractors had "speed dates" with 23 subcontractors while 10 sponsors and/or vendors observed and interacted with attendees. Respondents of our survey after the event reported 32 people made NEW business connections.

3) Create an atmosphere for business.

One actual deal was made on-site during the event while 13 participants reported a promise of a future deal. That's truly creating an atmosphere for business.

Our Sponsors included:    County of Butte * Payless Building Supply Chico * Ashwood Construction * Tracy Realty Company * InterWest Insurance * 3CORE * Recology * Tile City * Butte College, The Training Place * Lucky Hills, LLC

For more information, please contact Debra Lucero, CEO of Butte County Economic Development Corp. at 530-228-2860 or e-mail her at [email protected]

Mary's Gone Crackers Employs 100 People in Gridley; bad economy has little effect on gluten-free business model
Mary's Gone Crackers

Seventeen years ago, Mary Waldner was hard-pressed to find anything gluten-free. It was her struggle with Celiac Disease - an inability to digest gluten--a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and most oats - that inspired her to develop Mary's Gone Crackers seven years ago along with her husband, Dale Rodrigues. 


"She would make the crackers and many of her friends and family would tell her 'These are really good. You should start a business'," Jacob Farris, Sales and Marketing Director, said. While the idea was conceived in the Bay Area, the company first started production in Chico and then moved to Gridley.


Why Gridley?  


"We needed a factory space," Farris said. "This old canning facility that wasn't really being used was available. We just kind of moved in and filled it up and made it our's. That's really the reason why we're here. We've grown a lot in this same space and it's still working for us."

Mary's handcrafted recipe became a hit not only with fellow Celiac sufferers, but with consumers eager for delicious snacks they could feel good about eating. Mary's Gone Crackers Original was awarded the Sofi Gold for the most outstanding cracker at the New York Fancy Food Show in 2008. 


The signature product is a unique cracker made with organic brown rice, organic quinoa, organic flax seeds and organic sesame seeds. Today, there is much more awareness of gluten-free products and many more items available commercially.  


According to Farris, this widespread availability helps more than it hurts. "There is much more awareness - what gluten-free is and why it's necessary. More people are excited about it.  


On the other hand, Farris added, "There is also lot of stuff out there that gives gluten-free a bad name. Mary's Gone Crackers is great tasting, healthy, and delicious."


Currently, the company produces five crackers, four cookies and three pretzels. Find Mary's Gone Crackers at the following stores. 


CHICO, 95926 CA
1726 SKYWAY #F
CHICO, 95926 CA
530 343 4185 FAX
CHICO, 95926 CA
Maisie Jane's 
1324 Dayton Road
Chico, 95928 Ca
Phone: (530) 899-7909
1366 East Avenue
Chico, 95973 CA

Phone: 530-899-2320


Butte County