The Possibilities are Endless in Free Agent Nation

This article appeared as part of my regular guest column contribution to the Eureka Times Standard Newspaper. In this 07/10/01 column, I discuss the variety of self-employed entrepreneurs in rural Northern California’s Humboldt County.

The Possibilities are Endless
in Free Agent Nation

California has more “Free Agent” independent workers and micro-business owners than any other state in the nation, according to Dan Pink, author of the fascinating new book “Free Agent Nation.”

According to Pink, two out of three Californians don’t hold a traditional job with a single employer. Our state’s free agents are breaking new ground and achieving a new type of  “job security” through diversification, and investing their human capital in several clients or projects, rather than devoting it all to a single company and living in the shadow of their next pink slip.

The Redwood Technology Consortium is Humboldt’s best vehicle to further diversify a free agent’s opportunities. Once a month, we all pry our hands away from our keyboards, and head out to the Eureka RREDC office to exchange business advice, learn how to participate in promoting clean industry locally, and simply network with other free agents, micro-enterprise and larger business owners. Between us, we demonstrate the possibilities available to anyone wanting to make the free agent leap, with as little as a phone line, fax and FedEx.

Here’s a few world class projects we are implementing from our spare bedrooms, garages, and sometimes while camped out at the local coffee house:

Ennis Web Design, run by Sean Ennis, specializes in ADA compliant web design, foreign language translation and digitally mastered audio for websites. In addition, if your ISP goes belly-up and you’re suddenly found without a web presence, Sean will help you move your site to a new host: something your old ISP won’t do. is a Eureka citizen’s website created by Carl Birks, a College of the Redwoods Multimedia Student. Eurekans are encouraged to express their perspectives on our urban environment when visiting the site. By using written, visual, musical and other creative expressions, YourEka promotes innovation in urban planning and architecture for a more people-friendly, ever-improving, more livable Eureka.

Planwest Partners, owned by George Williamson, AICP, is a planning and environmental consulting firm. Planwest offers land use, resource, community, and environmental planning; feasibility studies; and grant-writing services. George has over twenty years of experience in both public agency and private sector planning, primarily in the West.

Gold Dog Design, developer of the acclaimed RTC website, specializes in the development and implementation of web-based intranets and extranets for the virtual office. Specializing in ColdFusion programming, Carter Fleming offers database integration and B2B solutions with integrated portal capabilities.

Peggy Martinez, an Assistive Technology Consultant and Trainer specializing in equipment for people with impaired sight. Peggy arranges everything from system installations with speech & Braille output, to awareness training, to accessible computer lab coordination for conventions and conferences.

Kevin Savetz is a freelance computer and technology writer specializing in the Internet. Kevin is a regular contributor to Computer Shopper, MacAddict,’s WebTools, Sesame Street Parents,, Access Magazine, and other publications., is a nationwide directory of veteran owned businesses. Webmaster Doug Sapp is in the process of compiling information from around the country on veteran businesses in a variety of industry sectors, such as servicing, manufacturing, and construction.

Tina Nerat, a newly transplanted San Diegan, runs NERATech from her office in Eureka, which specializes in building systems infrastructure, such as networking, help desk, system administration, desktop support and LAN/WAN configurations. In addition, Tina works with businesses to assess their use of technology within their organization. Mike Nerat, her husband, is a prototype machinist and CNC programmer, and is currently seeking a high-end machine shop with appropriate tools and CAD/CAM software, to partner on various projects.

This is just a sampling of the creative endeavors underway in our region’s stealth tech industry, and proof that our livelihoods don’t have to be at the mercy of industry-wide economic downturns and structural reorganizations of large employers.

To get inspired or find out what others are doing to live the free agent lifestyle, join us at the next RTC meeting on Wednesday, July 11.

Rene Agredano sits on the RTC board of directors ( and is a principal of Agreda Communications, a full-service marketing communications firm.

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