Monday, February 23, 2015

Travis consortium hard at it to preserve base’s mission

Travis consortium hard at it to preserve base’s mission

By Sandy Person
February 22, 2015 | Daily Republic
It has been a year and a half since the Air Force indicated its intention to retire the KC-10 air refueling aircraft, nearly half of which – 27 – are based at Travis Air Force Base.

People ask, “so what is happening with the KC-10?” The short answer is that the KC-10 will be retired, but the timetable is uncertain.

The KC-10 civilian counterpart, DC-10/MD-10 aircraft, have all been retired from the commercial airlines worldwide. Only FedEx still uses them and it plans to retire those remaining. Spare parts and maintenance has become increasingly more difficult and expensive to procure.

The chief of staff of the Air Force, Gen. Mark Welsh, said last year if the Budget Control Act’s sequestration returns in 2016, the Air Force will be forced to begin retiring the KC-10. The Budget Control Act mandated cuts totaling more than $1 trillion, split between defense and non-defense spending over 10 years.

Rep. John Garamendi, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, was able to add language to the 2015 defense authorization bill requiring the Air Force to provide a report on the outlook for the air refueling aircraft inventory, current and future refueling mission requirements, the risks associated with retiring the KC-10 and strategies to mitigate those risks  prior to any decision to retire the KC-10.

Despite the unresolved issue of sequestration, the Air Force is not seeking to retire the KC-10 in the 2016 budget, which was sent to Congress on Feb. 2 for consideration.

Change in Congress after last fall’s elections is yet another layer of uncertainty. Add to that the ISIS threat in northern Iraq and Syria, which has required thousands of refueling sorties. The loss of the KC-10 would undoubtedly strain our country’s capabilities and those of the coalition forces conducting airstrikes.

Despite the pressure to cut defense costs, Congress did not allow retirement of any Air Force aircraft, and refused to authorize a Base Realignment and Closures round in 2017.

At present the KC-10 remains an important component of the Air Force’s refueling capability, but budget constraints dictate that it will soon become too costly to continue to operate.

The decision to eliminate the KC-10, when made, will have a significant impact on Travis and our community. Base officials indicate that a substantial number of military and civilian positions are directly related to the KC-10 presence here. If those were lost, there would be heavy impact on the local housing market and the general economy.

Travis will be a candidate for the new KC-46 air refueling aircraft, now just coming into the inventory to replace the older KC-135, Eisenhower-era tankers. But that is unlikely before the beginning of the next decade. The question looms: “If that is the plan, will there be a gap in the mission? And, if so, how long will it be?”

This places continuing reliance on the Travis Community Consortium’s advocacy efforts to work with the Department of the Air Force, Air Mobility Command and our local, state and federal elected representatives to ensure a continuing air refueling mission at Travis without a huge gap in capability and manpower.

As the Travis Community Consortium leads this advocacy, we are hopeful that all elements of the community join our efforts to promote, protect and enhance the mission of Travis.

Sandy Person is executive director of the Solano Economic Development Corporation and a member of the Travis Community Consortium, a local advocacy group that supports Travis Air Force Base. Its members include Solano County, its cities, Solano Community College, the Solano Economic Development Corporation, Travis Regional Armed Services Committee and member businesses.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

California Competes Tax Credit Workshop

Solano EDC and the City of Vallejo
Invite You To
How Businesses Can Apply for the
California Competes Tax Credit

All businesses (small, medium and large)
are encouraged to attend the workshop
and receive instruction on how to apply
for this new tax credit program available
from the State of California.
The one-hour workshop is designed to
help you understand the application
process to apply for the California
Competes Tax Credit. 
Come and learn how your business
can apply for new tax credits from the state.
February 24, 2015
9-10 am Workshop
Vallejo City Hall - City Council Chambers
555 Santa Clara Street, Vallejo
Click here to RSVP. Space is limited.
Call 707-864-1855 for more information.

Friday, January 30, 2015

ICON Aircraft seen as a sign of good things to come

By Melissa Murphy, The Reporter, Vacaville

Posted: 01/29/15, 10:01 PM PST |

Solano County’s economic environment is taking off and the business community is hoping to ride the momentum created last year into 2015.

“Solano County is a great place to be and it’s important that we all work toward economic development,” said Laura Kuhn, Vacaville city manager and chair of the Solano EDC board of directors.

Sandy Person, president of Solano EDC, agreed.

“We are team Solano,” she said. “When we work together we make really good things happen.”

One of those “really good things” that happened during 2014 was the announcement from ICON Aircraft Inc. that it is relocating to Vacaville from Southern California. ICON is known for its A5, an amphibious light sport aircraft, that will be in production later this year.

Thursday afternoon during Solano Economic Development Corporations annual lunch, business leaders welcomed once again Kirk Hawkins, founder and CEO of ICON.

Hawkins shared with the full room that ICON was attracted to Solano County because of its business friendly atmosphere, facilities, proximity to world class destinations such as Napa, Tahoe and San Francisco, amazing terrain and nearby lakes, and year round flying weather.

He explained that ICON, a company of about 100 people, will expand to hundreds then to thousands of jobs and bring $350 million annually of economic impact to the region. Additionally, having ICON in Vacaville will bring global awareness to the area, according to Hawkins.

He added that the move would not have happened if it didn’t feel right. Vacaville was up against some stiff competition, he said.

ICON ‘s aircraft design, manufacturing, sales, training, service and corporate headquarters are slated to move into its 140,000-square-foot facility near the Nut Tree Airport by August.

Hawkins, a former Air Force F-16 pilot insists that the A5, a luxury recreational “power vehicle,” will not be as difficult as most think.

“It’s very automotive, very approachable,” he told the crowd as pictures of the plane were shown from a projector.

The gas-powered aircraft can take off and land on water as well as traditional runways. Hawkins explained that with a valid driver’s license and the 14 days of training that come with the purchase of the nearly $200,000 plane, having the ability to fly is obtainable.

“Flying isn’t all the same,” he said and added that there is a difference between flying a commercial airline jet and the sport plane. “It’s not as difficult as you think it is.”

For instance the sport plane will only be allowed to fly during the day and during the right weather conditions, according to Hawkins.

Hawkins said ICON is about democratizing aviation and that wanting to fly is deep within human nature.

“We want to bring that emotional connection to the consumer,” he said. “We’re looking to change people’s lives.”

Sports aircraft company CEO recalls effort to locate in Solano


Solano EDC meeting
Icon Aircraft Founder & CEO Kirk Hawkins speaks at the Solano Economic Development Corporation’s annual meeting, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Thursday. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)
January 30, 2015 
FAIRFIELD — Attendees at the 32nd annual meeting of the Solano Economic Development Corporation heard firsthand Thursday about the modern mode of flying sport planes from the event’s keynote speaker, Kirk Hawkins, founder and chief executive of Icon Aircraft.

“It’s time to bring an aircraft to the consumer that they will fall in love with,” Hawkins told those at the sold-out luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield.

Icon Aircraft announced last year that it will build its Icon A5 two-seater sport plane at Vacaville’s Nut Tree Airport. Icon’s sales, service and flight training will all be located at the Vacaville site, Hawkins said.

The popularity of sport flying came about after the Federal Aviation Administration created a new category of aircraft and new category of sport pilot license, Hawkins said. New rules reduced the cost and time necessary to learn to fly. Obtaining a sport pilot license takes about half the time of a regular license, he said.

“It’s not as difficult as you think it is,” Hawkins said. “I can teach a person in a matter of hours.”

The Icon A5 sport plane carries a price of approximate $200,000 for a base model, Hawkins said. It features foldable wings and can land on water or solid ground. It is designed for speeds of 120 mph and a range of up to 300 miles. It burns both auto and aviation fuel.

Hawkins talked Thursday about the influence that attracted Icon to Vacaville and recognized those in attendance at the luncheon who played a role in drawing the startup aircraft company here.

There were a lot of reasons to choose Vacaville, he said.

“I was quite surprised at how aggressive they were in wanting us here,” he said.

The competition to attract Icon was competitive, with Texas and Arizona also being considered,
Hawkins said.

His company is currently located in Southern California and has about 100 employees, he said.

Hawkins estimates it will eventually employ 500 workers and have a $350 million annual economic impact to the region.

Icon will build about 20 aircraft this year and 400 in 2016, according to Hawkins. Future production could be 1,000 planes per year, he said.

Hawkins flew fighter aircraft in the Air Force and later was a pilot for American Airlines. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson University and his master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University.

In other matters at Thursday’s luncheon, the Solano Economic Development Corporation recognized its board of directors for 2015. A special presentation was made to past chairwoman Patsy Van Ouwerkerk.

Reach Kevin W. Green at 427-6974 or

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Solano County Small Businesses Enjoy Lower Energy Bills Through Energy Watch Participation

         More than 100 small businesses participated in Solano Energy Watch last year and are now enjoying reduced energy bills and updated lighting and refrigeration. J.Paul Harrington, Solano Economic Development Corporation representative, said Solano Energy Watch (SEW) reduced recurring, annual, energy costs for participants by more than $200,000 in 2014.[1]

          Harrington said SEW is a new program for Solano EDC. The program gives businesses the opportunity to receive a no cost energy audit, and savings program that can result in reduced lighting and refrigeration bills.
           “It’s an easy process which begins with a comprehensive No Cost energy evaluation." Harrington said. "We process the rebates and help find the right contractor for the job. In some cases, the rebates can cover up to 100% of the project cost. In 2014 alone, we have saved the businesses of Solano County over 2 million kilowatt hours.”

          Solano EDC President, Sandy Person said, “We see this program as part of our efforts to increase the economic vitality of the businesses of Solano County by helping businesses save energy and add to their bottom line.”
           The Solano EDC is a non-profit public private partnership delivering professional economic development services and working with collaborative relationships on a local, regional and state level to ensure Solano is recognized as a strategic location for industry growth and retention.       

          Harrington said the mission of SEW is simple: “We want to help reduce your energy use and save you money.”
          To schedule a no cost, no obligation energy evaluation, call the 24 hour hotline 707-639-1044.
                                        # # #
If you would like more information about this topic visit

or contact JPaul Harrington at 707-864-1855 or email at

Solano Energy Watch is funded by California Utility customers and is administered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

[1] Footnote: The energy costs reduction of $200,000 was calculated based on a $0.10 per kWh electricity charge.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Celebrating ‘Spirit of Solano’

Celebrating ‘Spirit of Solano’

By Robin Miller @RobinMiller1883 on Twitter

It was a packed house at Fairfield’s Hilton Garden Inn for lunch Thursday afternoon as civic and business leaders from across Solano County gathered to honor companies they feel best exemplify the “Spirit of Solano.”

The annual event marked its 19th year honoring Solano County’s chambers of commerce and businesses, each chamber selected for embodying a spirit of helping the community and improving the local quality of life.

Vacaville’s chamber nominated and honored its business of the year, Kaiser Permanente, with chamber board president Tracy Mitchell noting the healthcare provider’s commitment to Solano county dating back to 1946, when it first opened its Vallejo facility until today, with its new Vacaville Hospital designated a Level II trauma center.

“Each year, Kaiser Permanente provides nearly $5 million in grants and sponsorships to nonprofit organizations serving Solano and Napa counties, in addition to providing subsidized health care to many low-income families,” he noted From Dixon, family-owned Cat­tlemen’s Restaurant was honored with the chamber noting “their long relationships in Dixon have been extremely important to the success of their business.”

Abby Becker accepted the award and in brief comments said the restaurant “realizes the important of giving back to the community that has supported us” and thanked the community and chamber for the years of support.

The Fairfield-Suisun Chamber honored Chick-filA in Fairfield and The Salvation Army Kroc Center in Suisun City.

Chick-fil-A franchise owner Annette Fortney thanked the chamber for its support and offered a word of encouragement for young people, who may still be looking “for their dream” and uncertain of their future. “Yes, you can,” she said. “If I did it, you can as well.”

The Salvation Army’s Capt. Jonathan Harvey was also grateful and vowed to continue to uphold a “vision of excellence” laid out for the center, which provides a host of programs from art to music, education and recreation.

“We are proud to be able to serve this county,” he said. “Tens of thousands visit and use the facility and like the song says, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

The Vallejo Chamber of Commerce recipient brought down the house, though.

Medic Ambulance and the Manfredi family (its owners) were honored by the chamber for being “all that is good in business and the community,” said Tom Atwood, chamber board president. He noted that from the founding of the business in 1979, the firm has grown from 10 employees and 2 ambulances, to a company with 225 employees and 75 vehicles serving Solano, Sacramento and Placer counties. In addition he noted the company’s plan to open new headquarters in Vallejo in 2015 that will include a state-of-the-art dispatch center, education center, and logistical and administrative office.

Rudy Manfredi then took the stage and joked that he’d been waiting for the honor for years. Praising Vallejo, he quipped that when his family came to America and landed in New York, he wanted nothing to do with the big city. “I said, ‘No, I want to go to Vallejo!’” he insisted, as the crowd roared with laughter.

The list of chambers and honorees included: Benicia Chamber: Alonzo & Small Insurance Agency, Inc.

Dixon Chamber: Cattlemens Fairfield-Suisun Chamber: Chick-fil-A and The Salvation Army Kroc Center Filipino-American Chamber: Skyview Memorial Lawn Solano County Black Chamber: U.S. Military Veteran Family Resource Center, Inc.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014, 6:25 am

Impact Solano to highlight three unique county enterprises

By Gary Quackenbush, Special to the Business Journal

FAIRFIELD — Executives from three Solano County enterprises will be panelists at the Nov.21 Impact Solano conference, which will focus on the State of the Solano Business Climate.
Business leaders from HM.Clause, Guala Closures North America and Mare Island Dry Dock will join Robert Eyler, Ph.D., economics professor and director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University. He will provide an outlook for the global and local economy in 2015.
“Solano County has a growing mix of agriculture, wine, high-tech, research and manufacturing firms that collectively add to the rich texture of our economic community,” said Sandy Person, executive director of the Solano Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
“These firms are often part of a larger supply chain essential to the overall success of key local, national or international industries.”
She said the three companies to be highlighted at Impact Solano are examples of the wide breadth of firms included in the county’s expanding industry cluster that is putting Solano County on the map.

HM.Clause, Inc.

Located at 260 Cousteau Place in Davis, HM.Clause specializes in the breeding, production and commercialization of vegetable seeds varieties for professional growers.
Tamiko Michelle Gaines of HM.Clause
Tamiko Michelle Gaines is director of institutional relations for HM.Clause, which has an Americas office in Davis and is part of Groupe Limagrain of France.
With over 2,000 varieties in more than 23 vegetable crop species, HM.Clause provides innovative solutions to growers worldwide. The company has about 1,600 employees in more than 30 countries.
The firm’s varieties are available in more than 100 countries through 16 commercial subsidiaries and local sales networks.
As one of the world’s top four seed producers, the HM.Clause hub office for the Americas is based in the heart of Solano County’s agricultural region close to hundreds of farmers that use its products.
The company also has a research facility in Solano County staffed by 26 percent of the workforce.
Fifteen percent of annual sales are invested in research at two main laboratories in France and California, along with 12 varietal breeding centers in eight nations — including three in the U.S. (California, Florida and Wisconsin).
Tamiko Michelle Gains, director of institutional relations and development for HM.Clause, will provide an overview of the company, describe its operations and talk about future plans at Impact Solano.
HM.Clause, Inc., is a business unit of Groupe Limagrain, an international cooperative headquartered in France. It markets its seeds under two brand names, Harris Moran Seed Company, headquartered in California, and CLAUSE Vegetable Seeds, headquartered in France.

Guala Closures North America

Guala Closures enhanced decoration capabilities for newest plant, in Fairfield.
Guala Closures in early 2014 installed new small-run aluminum screw cap production equipment with enhanced decoration capabilities at its newest plant, in Fairfield. (image credit: Guala Closures)
Guala is a multi-national manufacturer of custom closures (screw caps and non-refillable closures) for firms in the wine, spirits, water, beer and olive oil industry sectors. The company established its presence in the U.S. with a new facility in Fairfield initially dedicated to small production runs.
Alessandro Bocchio
Alessandro Bocchio is general manager of Guala Closures USA
General Manager Alessandro Bocchio, will present an overview of this firm that markets to producers representing the entire beverage and olive oil industry spectrum.
The world headquarters is located north of Milan, Italy. However, Guala produces 14 billion closures a year at 16 plants around the globe.
“We saw an opportunity to produce screw caps for the wine industry in California and decided to invest in a manufacturing facility that is now up and running in Solano County,” Mr. Boochio said.
“As part of our entry strategy, we developed new technology to serve the job-lot market and invite clients to work with professionals at our Guala Closure Design Studio to develop branded closures for small production runs нн- as few as a single box — often used for special promotions, weddings, anniversaries, company milestones or other events.”
He said over the next two to three years the company plans to expand operations at Fairfield and gear up for large-scale manufacturing.

Mare Island Dry Dock

Coast Guard ship at Mare Island Dry Dock
U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star had $5.1 million in repairs in August 2014 at Mare Island Dry Dock in Vallejo before setting off for Antarctica. The project employed 70 for three months.
Mare Island Dry Dock, LLC, is a privately held firm with more than three decades of experience in the maritime industry along the East Coast. It is now based at 1180 Nimitz Ave. in Vallejo with 86 employees.
Executive Vice President Christine Snyder is set to talk about how Mare Island Dry Dock is able to handle ships of all types, including cruise ships, coastal tankers, barges, commercial freighters, ferries, Military Sea Lift Command, Coast Guard and U.S. Navy vessels.
The company’s 18-acre site has berth space up to 1,300 linear feet, and two concrete gravity dry docks (680 and 720 feet long) that can handle ships under fully loaded conditions.
“We’re no longer in the moth-ball fleet dismantling business and now provide a wide range of services for active carriers,” said Ms. Snyder.
Services include essential ship repair and conversion, turbine overhaul and welding, vessel berthing, reduction gear repairs, structural steel renewal as well as steel and aluminum fabrication and emergency ship services.
This special event is presented by North Bay Business Journal, in cooperation with co-hosts Travis Credit Union and the Solano EDC, and with underwriting from NorthBay Healthcare. The session starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Fairfield Hilton Garden Inn.
Limited seating is available. To register, visit or call Linda Perkins at 707-521-5264.