Make Willits Thrive: Come talk local economics on Feb. 25, at the Willits Hub

Share your ideas about the future and learn about available resources to help build the local economy.


WILLITS, CA, 2/21/18 — In the year since the Willits Bypass opened, Willits residents have been scratching their heads and discussing how best to support the local economy. On coming Sunday, February 25, from 4pm to 6pm there will a community town hall meeting at the Willits Environmental Hub, on how to “Turn Your Passion into Profit, or Make Willits Thrive,” organized by the Willits Economic Localization (WELL).

The forum will focus on how to build the local economy in terms of housing, jobs, the bypass, bolstering Willits tourism, developing legal cannabis businesses, what resources are available for entrepreneurs, and more. The first hour of the event will be devoted to the speakers presenting their ideas and sharing information about resources provided by local organizations. The second hour will focus on questions and discussion with the audience, as well as time to network.

The forum will feature speakers including: Willits Vice Mayor Saprina Rodriguez, Heather Gurewitz, CEO the Economic Development and Finance Corporation, Mary Anne Petrillo, Director of West Company, Bob Perrault, Interim City Manager, Alison Findley, director of the Willits Chamber of Commerce, and local business owners talking about their experiences. The forum will be facilitated by Emily Rose Smith and Willits Mayor and WELL President Madge Strong, and community members are encouraged to participate and share their ideas about how to develop our local economy.

The event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 25, from 4pm – 6pm at the Willits Environmental Hub, located at 630 South Main Street in Willits.

For more information or questions contact Madge Strong at 459-1493 or [email protected] The full list of speakers and topics is included in the press release below:


A free Town Hall forum on Sunday, Feb. 25 will bring together people who have ideas, resources and enterprises to help make Willits thrive. The event, sponsored by WELL (Willits Economic Localization), takes place from 4-6pm at the Willits Environmental Hub, 630 S. Main St., Willits.

Willits is at a crossroads, facing challenges post-Bypass, renewing downtown, cannabis legalization, the need for good jobs and housing, and more. This community forum will explore ideas and practical tools for improving the greater Willits economy.

The first hour of the forum will feature representatives from agencies that can help grow businesses as well as entrepreneurs who are already doing so. The second hour will include Q&A, ideas from the audience, and networking.

Presenters from organizations include:

  • Heather Gurewitz, Executive Director of EDFC (Economic Development & Financing Corporation). EDFC is a non-profit agency, founded in 1995, that engages in economic development throughout Mendocino and Lake Counties. They offer alternative financing for small businesses and social entrepreneurs.
  • Mary Anne Petrillo, CEO of West Company, a non-profit that specializes in business development. They provide no cost consulting services to aspiring and existing small business owners in Mendocino County.
  • Saprina Rodriguez, Willits Vice Mayor, who recently formed the Willits Tourism Board to stimulate and publicize the attractions Willits offers tourists as well as residents.
  • Alison Findley, director of the Willits Chamber of Commerce. She will outline how the Chamber supports our local businesses.
  • Bob Perrault, Interim City Manager, who will discuss ways the City can encourage and facilitate business development.

In addition, we will hear from several entrepreneurs – their experiences, challenges, and successes in establishing new or expanding businesses. These include:

  • Danny Church, owner of Gateway Games
  • Janae Stephens, owner of Organic Attire
  • Laura Toomey Rowland, seeking to start a food vendor business
  • Jim Smith, an internet marketing guru from Ft. Bragg and
  • Jason Morash, local marketing/PR specialist

The forum and community discussion will be facilitated by Emily Rose Smith and Willits Mayor and WELL President Madge Strong.

For info contact Madge at 459-1493 or [email protected]

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  1. I drove through Willits the other day and counted 10 empty store fronts, there might be some I missed. I think Willits needs more billboards near the Willits by-pass exits. The store fronts need to look full. I suggest asking artist to display their work in these empty store fronts. Leaving them empty gives Willits a ghost town look and is not inviting. Please don’t blame the by-pass for loss of business. Own up to the fact the food was low quality, or the service was bad, or the rooms smell bad, and the chocolate was moldy.

  2. Boycott Willits, Bypass it Everytime!
    Boycott a Town that puts Big Corporate Chemical Indoor Marijuana Companies before the small mom and pop growers and patie ts who have been there for decades.
    Boycott Of Willits Continues…..