Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Napa Smith Brewery on tap to open in Vallejo by fall

Napa Smith Brewery on tap to open in Vallejo by fall

Workers installing tons of rebar in the old Sears service center building on Yolano Avenue to hold several 64,000 pound tanks for Napa Smith Brewery, which is creating a brewery/taproom/tour destination in Vallejo.
Workers installing tons of rebar in the old Sears service center building on Yolano Avenue to hold several 64,000 pound tanks for Napa Smith Brewery, which is creating a brewery/taproom/tour destination in Vallejo. Dennis Brinson — contributed photo

Vallejo business and property owner Dennis Brinson says Vallejo’s fortunes are changing.
And he is fairly bubbling with news of the proof.

Case in point — the city will soon have a new Napa Smith Brewery, on Yolano Avenue where the old Sears service center once was, likely by the end of summer, he said.

“This beer is served in the White House. It’s a top brand at Disney World — this is a huge top brand,” the Vallejo native said. “They’re going to be ramping up production worldwide. ‘Brewed and bottled in Vallejo, CA.’ will be on all the bottles.”

The Vallejo Planning Commission in February approved the application for Napa Smith Brewery and tap room to operate out of the existing 36,000-square-foot building at 101 Yolano Ave. City staff said the operation will include 10 full-time, and six part-time employees.

“I heard they wanted to relocate from where they are now, in Napa, on Highway 29, for a new brewery, and there’s no better place for water supply and treatment capacity than Vallejo,” Brinson said. “I approached them with that — I contacted their headquarters in Memphis, Tenn. — and officials came out and on a handshake, we decided to start a relationship.”

That was a couple of years ago, Brinson said.

“All the due diligence, the vetting, the planning and regulations — and there’s a lot of it — had to be worked through,” he said. “But, the city has been a great support in helping achieve this.”

Founded in 2008, Napa Smith, whose parent firm is R.S. Lipman Co., makes “great food-friendly beer,” according to

“Napa Smith also knows wine well, since it operates a winery, too,” the site says. “It understands the distinct roles and strengths of wine and beer when it comes to complementing food. And that’s what Napa Smith is all about, producing distinctive artisan beers that pair so well with the great foods of the region (or anywhere).”

The new winery will include a tap room with food, and daily guided tours, said Brinson, who is carrying on a family tradition of bringing business and employment to Vallejo that started with his grandfather, who came to town in the early part of the last century and opened a market at Sonoma Boulevard and Georgia Street.

That is also where Brinson’s grandfather in 1934 built the structure that for years housed the largest Sears store on the West Coast, he said.

Brinson is also largely responsible for bringing the city’s second Grocery Outlet to downtown, eliminating what for decades had been an official “food desert.”
“The Grocery Outlet was great for downtown and this (Napa Smith Brewery) will be great for the city,” he said.

Recognizing that Vallejo’s schools need improving to make the city more attractive to large employers, Brinson said this and many other problems will fix themselves as more companies come and bring more jobs.

Vallejo has or soon will have nearly everything most large firms need in terms of location, transportation and other infrastructure, and it’s just a matter of helping the reality begin changing perceptions — inside and outside the city, he said.

The brewery, construction of which is already well under way, is only part of what’s on the horizon, he said.

“They’re putting a huge investment in the city,” Brinson said. “We really have the wind at our back.
It’s a new day for Vallejo.”

Contact Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824.

Vallejo eyes partnership with car facility for Mare Island

Vallejo eyes partnership with car facility for Mare Island

The possible location of Faraday Future, an automobile manufacturing facility, shaded in red, on North Mare Island.
The possible location of Faraday Future, an automobile manufacturing facility, shaded in red, on North Mare Island. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Conceptual design of Faraday Future’s FFZERO1 car.
Conceptual design of Faraday Future’s FFZERO1 car. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Electric car start-up Faraday Future has started down what promises to be a long and winding road toward building a manufacturing facility on Mare Island, Vallejo city officials announced Tuesday.
A special Vallejo City Council meeting is set for May 31 to consider an exclusive negotiating agreement with the firm, they said.

The project would be the first new automobile manufacturing facility built from the ground up in California in decades, and would bring hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment and a long-sought major employer to the former U.S. Naval base, city officials said.

“When we first started marketing this property, our first objective was good-paying jobs with green technology and an employer willing and able to make the necessary investment,” Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis said in the announcement. “Faraday Future and its plans to make Vallejo its second manufacturing site and bring green technology to Mare Island checks all the boxes.”

Faraday Future is a 2-year-old private California corporation based in Los Angeles, where its research and development operations are housed, according to the announcement.

The company employs more than 760 people in the United States and 200 more worldwide, it says.
“In recent months, it has introduced a first concept vehicle, displayed a vehicle platform designed to enable rapid development and production of an entire line of electric vehicles, and kicked off development of its first U.S. manufacturing facility in North Las Vegas,” city officials said. “After evaluating 187 sites nationwide, Faraday Future chose Mare Island, Vallejo and the North Bay in large part due to its proximity to Silicon Valley, an employee base that can be trained to build cars, and a strong market for electric vehicles and new technology and transportation innovation.”

The manufacturing plant would establish Mare Island and Vallejo as a hub of clean-tech, consumer-oriented, climate-protective ingenuity in the Bay Area, city officials said.

The waterfront property that would be the subject of the negotiations is 157 acres on North Mare Island with entitlements for more than 1 million square feet of light industrial, office and commercial uses, they said.

The Exclusive Right to Negotiate (ERN) agreement set for consideration on May 31, would set the timeline and terms for negotiations between the city and Faraday Future, with an eye toward the sale of the 157 acres and approval for the factory project. The agreement provides a six-month negotiation period, with two potential 90-day extensions, officials said.

During these negotiations, Faraday Future and the city will refine the project concept to address the scale of buildings, number of jobs created and timing of construction, according to a city staff report.
Both the city and Faraday Future confirmed the site would require significant work to prepare it for use.

“Faraday Future recognizes that the site requires backbone infrastructure, demolition of existing buildings, and other site work to address the geotechnical conditions that are estimated to exceed $50 million,” city staff said.

If a final agreement is reached, the city is expected to hand over the site to the company “as is,” due to the amount of work needed to rehab the site, according to the same staff report. The company will supply a $200,000 fee to the city, along with paying for Vallejo’s legal and consultant fees associated with the project. That fee is expected to be at least $372,000, staff said.

The city council is expected to consider a disposition and development agreement in November of this year.

The Mare Island Naval Shipyard closed in 1997, and since then, the city has adopted a Mare Island Final Reuse Plan, Mare Island Specific Plan and related environmental analysis to govern reuse and development.

The relationship between the city and Faraday began a year ago, when Vallejo officials, in collaboration with Solano County, Solano Economic Development Corporation, local utilities and workforce training providers, submitted North Mare Island to the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) for possible consideration by Faraday Future, the announcement says.

Faraday’s plans call for design and development of a light industrial facility for manufacturing electric vehicles along with an experience center where customers can learn about the company’s products and technologies, observe the process, take delivery of finished cars and road test vehicles, it says.

The company’s 3-million-square-foot, $1 billion North Las Vegas manufacturing facility is projected to start producing vehicles in a couple of years, it adds.

The company has previously confirmed to other media outlets that Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, CEO of the Chinese media giant LeEco, has invested in Faraday Future.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Spering: ‘Political suicide’ to divert ballot measure money away from transportation

Mayors from Solano County hold a town hall meeting about city streets, at the Hilton Garden Inn, on Friday. Pictured here are, from left to right, Dixon Mayor Jack Batchelor, Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine, Rio Vista Mayor Norman Richardson, and Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)
Mayors from Solano County hold a town hall meeting about city streets, at the Hilton Garden Inn, on Friday. Pictured here are, from left to right, Dixon Mayor Jack Batchelor, Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine, Rio Vista Mayor Norman Richardson, and Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)




Spering: ‘Political suicide’ to divert ballot measure money away from transportation

By From page A1 | May 01, 2016                                                                    

FAIRFIELD — It would be political suicide to divert away from transportation a dime of the $168.5 million that Measure H is estimated to generate, Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering said Friday.

“It’s going to be political chaos,” Spering said.

“If we don’t do what we say,” the county supervisor added, “you can kick us out of office.”

He responded to comments at the Solano Economic Development Corporation breakfast, by Suisun City resident Murray Bass that nothing in the June 7 ballot measure, expected to generate $33.7 million a year over its five years, requires funds to be distributed to cities for transportation.

“This is still discretionary money,” said Bass, who told mayors at the event that it’s “pie in the sky money.”

Spering said all seven mayors in the county, along with the Board of Supervisors, back the ballot measure.

“There’s a lot of integrity there,” Spering said.

City managers are also supporting the transportation measure, along with the 12 office holders, the 3rd District county supervisor said.

“That a pretty solid body – very credible individuals,” Spering said.

The argument about tax funds not going to transportation is old and stale, he said.

Murray said after the meeting that absolutely no guarantee is in place to restrict the money to

“General tax revenue can be spent on anything,” he said.

Fairfield Mayor Harry Price was among elected officials urging passage of the ballot measure. He noted repairs needed on roads to the Hilton Garden Inn where the breakfast event took place and said the situation characterizes a quarter of the roads in Fairfield.

Flint, Michigan, failed to spend money that would have prevented lead poisoning of children, Price said.

“Let’s not allow that to happen in Solano County,” the mayor said.

Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez spoke about how lawmakers in Sacramento blame the governor for transportation problems – and the governor’s staff blames the lawmakers.
“We cannot play that game anymore,” Sanchez said.

Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine said of transportation work that “the longer you wait the more damage happens to streets and roads.”

Spering praised the Solano Transportation Authority for reaching about 100,000 residents on transportation issues.

“We get criticized when we don’t reach out,” the county supervisor said.

Criticism also comes when government spends money to do so, Spering said.

Three telephone town halls conducted by the transportation authority cost a total of $75,000.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or

Solano leaders discuss fixing county’s roadways

Solano leaders discuss fixing county’s roadways

Kimberly K. Fu — The Reporter
Dixon Mayor Jack Batchelor, left, speaks about much-needed road maintenance in his city and throughout the county at a Solano Economic Development Corporation.
Kimberly K. Fu — The Reporter Dixon Mayor Jack Batchelor, left, speaks about much-needed road maintenance in his city and throughout the county at a Solano Economic Development Corporation.

Solano’s streets need fixing. Period.

Such was the sentiment Friday at a gathering hosted by the Solano Economic Development Corporation.

Roadway conditions have deteriorated since 2002, officials said, and in the last two years alone state funding to address the issue has fallen by $11 million.

Public outreach has revealed that fixing potholes and road safety are residents’ top priorities.

“Cities don’t have enough resources,” emphasized Daryl Halls, executive director of the Solano

Transportation Authority. “They’re doing the best they can.”

The STA estimated 49 percent of Solano’s roads are in poor or at-risk condition, Halls pointed out. Better a dollar spent on maintaining a good road than outlaying $10 to fix a bad road, he said.

Thus far, nine projects have been identified in Vacaville, 10 each in Fairfield and Benicia, seven in Dixon, four in Rio Vista, 12 in Suisun City, 18 in Vallejo and six in rural Solano. But how to fund the projects?

Last October, the STA board, which includes all seven of Solano’s mayors, unanimously requested that the Board of Supervisors consider a local funding source.

Addressed would be:
• Road maintenance and safety projects.
• Mobility issues for seniors and people with disabilities.
• Oversight and accountability.

Thus, the Board agreed to send a half-cent tax measure, aka Measure H, to the voters in June.

The tax could generate about $150-$180 million over five years, Halls said, which would more than double the amount available to fix streets and roads.

Estimated proceeds include:
• Benicia: $1.8 million annually, $9.2 million over five years.
• Dixon: $1.3 million annually, $6.4 million over five years.
• Fairfield: $6.9 million annually, $34.7 million over five years.
• Rio Vista: $458,000 annually, $2.3 million over five years.
• Suisun City: $1.5 million annually, $7.6 million over five years.
• Vacaville: $5.9 million annually, $29.4 million over five years.
• Vallejo: $6.9 million annually, $34.4 million over five years.
• Rural Solano: $5.2 million annually, $26.1 million over five years.

“To not do anything and to not fix anything is not what we were elected to do,” said Dixon Mayor

Jack Batchelor. “This is a good measure. The money comes right back to the city.”

Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine agreed.
“All of our cities have some issue with safety problems,” he said. “We’re behind this together. We need to fix the roads and no one’s going to help us. We need to do this ourselves.”

Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering advised that an oversight committee has been approved. It will include nine members from various groups.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Community input sought regarding county’s workforce system

Solano County officials seek community input to strengthen and streamline the county’s workforce system.

The public is invited to join the Solano County Administrator’s Office and the Solano Economic Development Corporation (EDC) at a series of community workshops designed to help strengthen and streamline the employment process in Solano County.

The employment coordination concept, “Help in Recruiting and Retaining Employees,” or HIRRE, is designed to review, summarize and evaluate the multiple employment programs that exist today in Solano County and streamline them into a single, manageable point of contact.

In a press statement, local officials offered their support.

“It’s well known that local employers want to hire local talent,” said Patrick Duterte, HIRRE program consultant for the Solano County Administrator’s Office. “It’s good for business and our community.”

“I’m excited that we are taking a closer look at strengthening our workforce development process in Solano County,” said Sandy Person, Solano EDC president. “These workshops will help in attracting, growing and retaining business and industry.”

There are three workshops the public is invited to attend, including:
• April 18, 8-10 a.m. at the County Events Center, 601 Texas St., Fairfield.
• April 19, 8-10 a.m. at the Florence Douglas Senior Center., 333 Amador, Vallejo.
• April 20, 8-10 a.m. at the William J. Carroll Govt. Ctr., 1119 E. Monte Vista, Vacaville.

“This is an opportunity to show our leadership that we mean business,” said Erin Hannigan, District 1 Supervisor and Chairwoman of the Solano County Board of Supervisors. “This workforce development structure will allow both our businesses and our residents to thrive.”

For more information and to RSVP your attendance, contact Patrick Duterte at 784-6122 and

Friday, April 1, 2016

Speaker: Outside pressures could shake Solano economy

Speaker: Outside pressures could shake Solano economy

By From page A4 | April 01, 2016
FAIRFIELD — China, the presidential election and, of course, the whims of Wall Street could have significant effects on the Solano County economy.

That was one of the primary messages given to business leaders by economist Robert Eyler at the annual Solano Economic Development Corporation breakfast Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn.

“The news is good . . . (but) there are still a lot of challenges,” said Eyler, president of Economic

Forensics and Analytics in Petaluma. “Those challenges are global, national and state that Solano has to absorb.”

Eyler in an interview after his presentation of his 2015 Index of Economic and Community Progress said some of his specific concerns are China’s position in the economic market; whether Europe will be more stable, particularly in light of the terrorist attacks in the recent past; and how American businesses will react to interest rates as they likely will climb.

In addition to those points, he also noted the presidential election and his concerns that the business climate will become more uncertain and “grind the economy” to a near halt in the coming months.

Eyler also emphasized the need for Solano County to recognize the regional nature of its economy, including the fact that more people leave the county to work than come in for jobs.

“Is that a bad thing?” he asked.

The answer, like many points on the economy, was yes and no.

The good part is that people are bringing back generally better incomes than they apparently can find in the county. The negatives include a drain on workforce talent and traffic congestion.

At the same time, job growth is at an all-time level in Solano County, Eyler reported. Similarly, the housing market is on the upswing.

The single biggest reaction from the crowd, however, was the news that local schools have a better graduation rate and a lower dropout rate than that of the state. In his presentation to the Board of

Supervisors earlier this month, he said those numbers are the best since 2003.

How that translates to the kind of skilled workforce local employers are looking for is not entirely known.

Moreover, Eyler expressed concern about how a forced minimum wage hike to $15 an hour will affect that growth, particularly in a county where small businesses drive so much of the economy. Eyler also emphasized that the impact of the drought on the local economy goes far beyond agriculture, adding it is not just an issue of how much rain the state gets.

“The reality is we have an archaic way of distributing water,” he said. “It really is a water systems issue.”

Reach Todd R. Hansen at 427-6932 or

Economist says Solano’s future looks bright

By Kimberly K. Fu,, @ReporterKimFu on Twitter
Posted: |                                       
Newsflash — It’s a good year for Solano County.

So said economist Robert Eyler, a principal with Economic Forensics and Analytics, at Thursday’s Solano Economic Development Corporation gathering in Fairfield.

The event focused on the Solano County 2015 Index of Economic & Community Progress.

According to Eyler, last year was one of the county’s best years in a long time.

Jobs, income and housing prices are up as are tax revenues, he said.

“Solano County has gone from emergence to expansion,” he advised. “Almost every single industry in Solano County is seeing job growth.”

Last year, the county boasted 4,300 more non-farm jobs while farm job numbers also climbed.

“That’s the most job growth we’ve seen since the recession,” he said.

As for housing, property values rose during 2015 and standard of living indicators reportedly also improved.

Though commuting patterns are a challenge, the economist said, they’re not necessarily bad. Figures show that locals love living in Solano even though many work outside the county, and the income they make is brought back to and spent in Solano, he added.

As for education, the numbers tell a fantastic story.

“There’s an increase in graduation rates. That’s better than California’s average,” Eyler pointed out.

“Dropout rates are low. ... That’s the first time that we’ve seen Solano County definitely better than
California in dropout rates.”

As the county continues its rise from a years-long recession, Eyler predicted continued growth, albeit slow.

His futurecast includes focusing on external markets, realizing that interest rates and the like depends heavily on what’s going on in foreign countries and acknowledging that the national election and business uncertainty will impact the county.

“Connect all the dots,” he concluded. “Recognize we’re always in a regional market.”