Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SBDC Technology Boot Camp kicks off in Fairfield

Napa and Solano bring business tech insiders to region
SBDC Technology Boot Camp kicks off in Fairfield
FAIRFIELD – Armed with a vision to help raise the technology bar for NorthernCalifornia entrepreneurs, the SBDC Technology Boot Camp is gearing up for
10-city run, with its first stop in Fairfield.

On May 14 the Solano and Napa Small Business Development Centers are joining forces to offer area businesses a full-day, hands-on workshop at the Solano County Government Center. In previous years the Technology Boot Camp courses have been taught as far away as New York, Puerto Rico and China. The event is designed to teach entrepreneurs ways they can use information technology to transform their business. The workshops will cover the areas of: transformative IT, productivity, financial management, operations, marketing and sales, and business management.

“The Boot Camp has some classes that we don’t currently offer either through the SBDC centers or the college itself,” said Solano College SBDC Director Charles Eason. “One of the nice things about the SBDCTAP Program is that we get to tap into regional resources that we normally wouldn’t have access to.”

Eason also sees the event as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to uncover new tech resources and later follow up with the Solano SBDC for assistance in developing an implementation plan.

The 2008 Technology Boot Camp instructors bring with them a wealth of business and technology experience. Among the presenters are Patrick Cook, director of both the Silicon Valley SBDC and the SBDC Technology Advisory Program (SBDCTAP) and Andrea Peiro, editor and publisher of Small Business Technology Magazine.

“I think the curriculum will surprise entrepreneurs who have attended SBDC events in the past because this isn’t about growing your business to the next level and simply increasing sales or productivity – this is about truly transforming the way you do business,” said Cook, coordinator for this year’s boot camp.

The registration fee is $45 and includes breakfast and lunch. The fee to businesses for the event is minimal due to generous underwriting sponsors NetBooks and Vertical Response, leaders in the field of small business technology solutions.
The Solano Government Center is located at 675 Texas St. in Fairfield. For more information, or to register for the 2008 Technology Boot Camp, go to or call the Solano SBDC at (707) 864-3382.
For more information on underwriters NetBooks or VerticalResponse, go to, or

At Suisun City Restaurant, French Meets Italian

At Suisun City Restaurant, French Meets Italian
By Amy Maginnis-Honey | Daily Republic | April 29, 2008

Chef Soo Song prepares a dish at main street bar and grill in Suisun city. (DR Photos- Adam Smith Photo by Adam Smith

SUISUN CITY - Outside of the appetizers and desserts, which are done by his wife Min Song, Soo Song cooks all the dishes at Main Street Bar & Grill.

Song is a familiar face, having owned the Old Post Office Seafood & Grill in Vacaville. He sold it about six months ago.

'This is more upscale. It's a different atmosphere,' he said of the new restaurant.

He purchased Main Street more than a year ago and spent three months remodeling it before it opened in May 2007.

His cuisine: 'More like a French-Italian style.'

The French, he explained, like richer sauces. Italian cooking, he added, also has sauces and tend to be more spicier than French. 'I like spicy,' he said.

'French food changes every four to five years,' he said, recalling when Nuevo French was popular. Today, he added, it's more like a California cuisine.

The menu also includes dishes, like rack of lamb, not often found in area restaurants. Song also offers specials like a duck breast in a rosemary marinade and venison and rabbit.

Diners are welcome to leave their phone number and Song will call them when he makes the above dishes.

Desserts include chocolate mousse, tiramasu and crme bržlŽe.

This is Song's seventh restaurant, including Rodin in San Francisco, which was rated number 5 on a Zagat survey. Another San Francisco restaurant, Kiss, hosted Brooke Shields.

At his Creekside Bistro in San Anselmo, Song's customers included George Lucas and Sean Penn.

He's been in the restaurant business almost 30 years. Right now, he said, his heart belongs in Suisun City, in the 130-year-old building with a historic and full bar, with its own menu.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic Online.

Main Street Bar & Grill
627 Main St., Suisun City
(707) 428-6270
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Dinner 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Lunch prices range from $9 to $14.50 and dinner $18-$22

STA Wins Award for SR 12 Safety Campaign

STA Wins Award for SR 12 Safety Campaign

Suisun City, CA – The Solano Transportation Authority (STA) has received an award for its State Route (SR) 12 Safety Campaign from the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO). STA was recognized for their achievement of Award of Merit in the category “Public Safety Program or Campaign." CAPIO received 149 submittals statewide for their thirteen awards categories, which are designed to showcase outstanding communications strategies, products and skill.

STA Board Chair Eddie Woodruff, Mayor of Rio Vista, said, “the State Route 12 Safety Campaign is an excellent example of collaborative efforts that bring real results; in this case, increased traffic safety on SR 12.” The STA initiated the SR 12 Safety campaign in response to a series of accidents and fatalities that occurred on the stretch of SR 12 from I-80 in Solano County to I-5 in San Joaquin County. This area covers three counties, three regional government jurisdictions, three Caltrans districts, multiple state Senate and Assembly districts, and involves the various state and federal agencies dealing with the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta region.

The STA’s four-pronged approach – Enforcement, Legislation, Education and Engineering – helped provide short-term and mid-term breathing room as well as a long-term permanent solution. The STA partnered with the California Highway Patrol (CHP); the Office of Traffic Safety; Police Departments of Fairfield, Rio Vista and Suisun City; Caltrans; San Joaquin and Sacramento Council of Governments; and with several community organizations. The joint efforts included increasing traffic enforcement on SR 12; coordinating a public outreach campaign; implementing engineering improvements; and lobbying for state legislation. “These kinds of regional partnerships are critical for the STA to attain our goal of ensuring mobility and travel safety," Woodruff stated.

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk authored Assembly Bill (AB) 112 creating a double-fine zone on SR 12 from I-80 to I-5, and Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 7 designating a portion of SR 12 as the “Officer David Frank Lamoree Memorial Highway,” in memory of a Rio Vista police officer killed in an accident on SR 12.

CAPIO was founded in 1971 and affiliated with the League of California Cities in 1991.
More than 350 members strong, CAPIO’s mission is "To promote awareness of the public information profession and its value, by advancing standards of integrity, recognizing excellence, and offering training and support for members."

The first multi-jurisdictional SR 12 Corridor Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled to meet May 22, 2008, in Lodi. For further information on the SR 12 Safety campaign, contact STA Marketing and Legislative Program Manager Jayne Bauer at (707) 424-6075, or log onto

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

MetLife Resources Is First Office Tenant At Nut Tree Village

MetLife Resources Is First Office Tenant At Nut Tree Village
East Bay Business Times
Monday, April 28, 2008

MetLife Resources is the first office tenant at the mixed-use Nut Tree Village development in Vacaville.

MetLife signed a five-year lease for 1,311 square feet to locate its regional offices in the twin, two-story Class A office buildings at 1671-1679 East Monte Vista Ave.

The rate was not disclosed.

Nut Tree's location halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco on Interstate 80 made it the ideal location for MetLife, Regional Managing Director Suzanne McEuen said.

In addition to the 40,000 square feet of office space, Nut Tree Village includes more than 40 retail stores and restaurants as well as a family park with rides, a bocce court and a picnic area. A hotel and conference center and a residential component are also planned.

Railway Museum's Steam Is Up

Railway Museum's Steam Is Up
Solano Exhibits Boast A Newer Track
By Brian Hamlin
Article Launched: 04/29/2008

Western Railway Museum Executive Director Phil Kohlmetz stands next to a steam locomotive Friday. The iron display is used to educate visitors about the difference between steam and electric powered trains. (Rick Roach / The Reporter)

One of Solano County's most visited landmarks, the Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista Junction, will unveil its latest achievement on Saturday with the grand opening of its new, $2.5 million exhibit space.

The Loring C. Jensen Memorial Car House - named after a major benefactor - is a huge, state-of-the-art storehouse for railroad memories complete with 38 trains, most of them part of the electric railway system that once carried California travelers across town or across the state.

The climate-controlled, 37,000-square-foot car house is equipped with rails so that cars can periodically be moved for new exhibits. It houses a steam locomotive, but most of the cars and engines in the structure are electric.

"At the turn of the century, electric railways were where it was at," explained the museum's executive director Phil M. Kohlmetz. "Almost every community in the country had one or planned to have one."

Ironically, many larger communities like San Jose now are trying to restore the same kind of transit service that the electric railways offered routinely 60 years ago.

The museum was founded by the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association in 1960 when the group purchased 22 acres at the site of the old Rio Vista Junction Station off Highway 12 between Rio Vista and Suisun City.

At the time, the future museum site was nothing more than a windswept piece of prairie, an old train station and a few train cars in need of restoration - as well as a lot of dedicated volunteers who wanted to make sure the region's electric railway heritage wasn't forgotten.

Today, that heritage is alive and well with nearly 100 historic rail vehicles and painstakingly restored trains and passenger cars, some of which are available for rides.

In addition to the rolling stock, the museum's library and archives house more than 100,000 photographs, books, rail company corporate documents, maps and periodicals.

Many of the railway companies that were the pride of California disappeared decades ago and the only mementos of their existence are housed at Western Railway Museum.

When the new car house opens Saturday, visitors will have an opportunity to see fully restored rail cars as well as those awaiting restoration, their paint faded, windows broken and passenger days long past.

Some will be restored in the future, others will remain in a state of suspended deterioration.

"Because of the temperature and humidity control here, things that are restored will stay restored, and things that aren't yet restored won't deteriorate further," Kohlmetz explained.

Grand opening ceremonies for the new car house begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Western Railway Museum at 5848 Highway 12, is open 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays year round as well as 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens 65 and older, $7 for children 2 to 14 years of age, and free for children under 2 years old.

For more information, call 374-2978.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Supes Wind Up Rejecting Ban On Wind Turbines

Supes Wind Up Rejecting Ban On Wind Turbines
By Danny Bernardini
Article Launched: 04/23/2008

The Solano County Board of Supervisors shot down a proposal Tuesday to place a temporary ban on wind turbine projects in the Montezuma Hills near Travis Air Force Base.

The supervisors voted 4-1 against a motion by Supervisor Barbara Kondylis to ban future wind turbine projects until Travis can install a new radar system.

Although the current 700 or so turbines already cause radar issues, the Solano County Planning Commission recently approved adding 75 new turbines because it was discovered they would not cause additional problems. Those problems include images of small planes disappearing from the radar and others appearing when the planes weren't actually there.

The latest turbine project had been stalled for more than a year after Travis Wing Commander Col. Steven Arquiette asked for a delay of all turbine projects until completion in October of the installation of a new radar system. His request was lifted earlier this year after his Air Force superiors concluded the newest project wouldn't cause additional problems.

Kondylis followed the process and said that although she is in favor of alternative energy sources, she isn't in favor of posing a threat to Travis.

Joining Kondylis in asking for a temporary ban was Skip Thomson, a former supervisor and a current supervisor candidate in the June primary, who said the board should have done something similar to the ban when the process started.

"I want to know if it's time for you guys to step up, or if the citizens have to do it for you," Thomson said.

Supervisor Mike Reagan said that no applicants have filed for a turbine project that would be completed by the time the new radar system is installed and the ban isn't necessary. Reagan was joined by other board members who called the issue "moot."

"If it is moot, then what's the harm?" Kondylis said. "I prefer to err on the side of safety. I'm very disappointed we aren't taking these steps.

Supervisor Jim Spering said he was against the turbine ban because the issue was selective and was being used by Kondylis and Thomson as something for their campaign. Kondylis is up for re-election.

"If there is anyone in this room that doesn't think there is political posturing going on, they are naive," Spering said. "When people are running for office, these issues come up. This is very typical of what's going to be happening."

Supervisor John Silva said there are members of the public who will try and equate voting against the motion with not supporting Travis.

"I take exception to anyone that comes to the podium and says we don't support Travis," Silva said.

Westrust Completes 40,000-SF Portion of Mixed-Use Center in Vacaville

Westrust Completes 40,000-SF Portion of Mixed-Use Center in Vacaville
April 24, 2008

Westrust, a California-based retail and mixed-use developer, has completed development on the two-building office component of Nut Tree Village in Vacaville, CA.

The two-story buildings consist of 40,000 square feet of office suites, some of which will be occupied by the regional offices of MetLife Resources. The properties are within the 333,000-square-foot Nut Tree Village Center, which includes more than 40 retailers and restaurants.

John Quick and Brooks Pedder of Colliers International are handling leasing for the office buildings.

Eyesore To Get Makeover

Eyesore To Get Makeover
CMA hopes to turn old bar into gym
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 04/26/2008

The aftermath of the demolition this week of the former cafe near the entrance to California Maritime Academy will make way for a new gym at the site. (Courtesy photo)

A longtime eyesore at the entrance to Vallejo's California Maritime Academy was demolished this week to make way for a new university gym and survival training complex, a school official said.

But due to current financial uncertainties, the new facilities may not happen for a while.

The razed building has been called The Pilgrim, The Sands, Choi's, but by whatever name, the cafe between the Motel 6 Maritime North and the CMA entrance has stood fallow for years during property negotiations, said CMA spokesman Doug Webster. Those talks recently bore fruit, allowing the derelict building to come down, Webster said.

A neighbor who declined to be identified in print, said the site's been empty for at least a decade.

"There used to be music there, and a bar, and it used to get pretty rowdy," the neighbor said.

"It was obviously an eyesore, and there were problems with transients breaking in," Webster said.

But no more. The university took possession of the property two or three months ago, and crews tore the place down Tuesday, Webster said.

"The state owns it - several parcels around it - on our behalf, from the motel to our gate and down Maritime Academy Drive, and on the far side to the trailer park," he said. "The long-term plan is to build a new athletic center and a survival training center."

The school's existing gym and pool is about 60 years old, too small and in need of major repairs and upgrades, Webster said.

"The floors have been sanded so many times, you can't do it anymore; it's so thin," he said. "During basketball games, the players are practically in the audience's laps."

The school's specialized maritime curriculum requires some specialized equipment to optimize graduates' real-world marketability, and that's what the new facility aims to contribute to, Webster said. Among the requirements for gaining shipboard employment as an officer or engineer is survival training, he said.

"One requirement is a certain number of hours at sea, in simulators and in survival training, like jumping into the water from a ship and turning over a capsized life raft, and to get into a special suit," Webster said. "And to deliver that training properly, the new facility will have wind and wave generators and a helicopter blade simulator."

Students also will be able to more realistically train in rescue basket lowering and hoisting with the new simulators, he added.

"This is not just playing around. (Students) have to prove they can get into a survival or Gumby suit in a minute, to get a job," he said. "You can die of hypothermia in the San Francisco Bay in a very short time, and this has happened."

University officials also are discussing possibly opening the new facility to the community during the summer when many students are away, Webster said.

But there's a catch.

While the Cal State system, of which CMA is a part, has known for years of the needed upgrades, and has approved the project, the school couldn't "get in line" for funding until it owned the property, Webster said. And with threatened educational budget cuts, it may be a couple of years before the project can start, he said.

"So, in the meantime, we've cleared the area and it will stay idle," he said. "Or we may make part of it into a parking lot, but we still need funding for that, for paving, lighting, fencing, security."

• E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

Fishery Works To Restock Salmon

Fishery Works To Restock Salmon
Mare Island project hopes fish will boost numbers
By SARA STROUD/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 04/26/2008

Fishery Foundation of California deck hand Troy Winchell directs fingerling salmon from a Fish and Game tanker truck into a floating holding pen off Mare Island. (Sara Stroud/Times-Herald)

Mare Island may seem an unlikely spot for a major wildlife rehabilitation project, but it happens to be the epicenter of an effort to rejuvenate an imperiled salmon population.

Several times a week from April to July, Department of Fish and Game tanker trucks deliver fingerling Chinook salmon from inland river hatcheries for release in the Carquinez Strait. On Mare Island, they're met by a boat crew towing a large holding pen to protect the stunned salmon from predators while they acclimate to the warmer, saltier water.

"It's really been a team effort," said Kari Burr of the Fishery Foundation of California, who manages the acclimation project.

On Friday, Fish and Game technicians left the Feather River hatchery near Oroville before sunup, driving four trucks full of the small fish. Once at Mare Island, they hooked up large plastic tubes to the back of the trucks and sent about 400,000 baby salmon, each three- to four-inches long into the net pen waiting in the water below.

"I never get tired of seeing them hit the water," Fish and Game technician Steve Brightwell said Friday.

Trucking salmon from river hatcheries to the bay is nothing new, but this year marks the largest protected acclimation effort to date - 20 million fish transitioned this year, twice as many as in 2007. Crews switch things up between Mare Island and nearby unincorporated Selby, to take advantage of tides and confuse predators.

When the fish hit the water, they go into thermal and osmotic shock and hover on the water's surface, making them easy pickings for bass and seagulls. Protecting the fish in net pens while they acclimate increases the survival rate 500 percent, Fishery Foundation director Trevor Kennedy said.

"I'm glad we're finally doing it to potential. That's a lot of extra fish," Kennedy said

And hopefully those fish will boost a population in such decline that the Pacific Fishery Management Council recently decided to cancel this year's salmon fishing season.

Scientists are studying a long list of possible causes of salmon population collapse. Many researchers point to unusual weather patterns in recent years that have disrupted the marine food chain along the Pacific Coast.

Others blame mismanagement of the water system that has resulted in a lack of fresh water for the migrating fish. Fishermen and environmentalists say too much water is being diverted from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which juvenile salmon must swim through on their way to the ocean.

"This represents the future of all salmon in the Bay-Delta system," said John Ryzanych, a spokesman for the Bay-Delta Sport Fishing Enhancement Stamp. Anyone fishing from the San Francisco Bay and many inland rivers must buy the $6.05 stamp, which funds the acclimation project. Proceeds go to fishery enhancement projects, including the acclimation project, which costs about $100,000 a year.

This year's fish release won't translate into an immediate salmon boom. It will take about three years for the fish to reach maturity, but starting with the 10 million fish acclimated and released last year, officials are hoping for the best.

"In 2010 it's going to look really good," Kennedy said.

• E-mail Sara Stroud at or call 553-6833.

New Lab Now Open

New Lab Now Open

Simpson Dura-Vent's new research and development laboratory facility in Vacaville is now operational, the company announced this week.

The additional 38,000 square foot facility will significantly increase the company's ability to complete existing and initiate new research and development for venting technology, the firm said.

The new lab is three times the size of the previous one, and took about one year to build as part of an overall expansion project. It features an improved testing tower better suited for chimney and vent testing. The lab's new interior also features enhanced capability to perform rain and wind tests.

The increased capacity allows the firm's Engineering staff to take on more projects at one time, allowing for more research and product development.

Simpson Dura-Vent, headquartered in Vacaville, is the leading manufacturer of chimney and venting products in North America.

For further information, visit

Suisun Valley Offers Ideal Climate For Winery Owner

Suisun Valley Offers Ideal Climate For Winery Owner
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | April 26, 2008

Don Johnson, a long time vineyard owner and grape grower in the Suisun Valley, has recently opened Winterhawk Winery on Abernathy Road near Fairfield. Johnson believes that Suisun Valley's climate and location make it idea for creating fine wines. Photo by Chris Jordan

FAIRFIELD - Don Johnson pointed to a 5-foot-tall wall map of California to demonstrate why his new Winterhawk winery in Suisun Valley is well-situated to grow fine wine grapes.

He showed how ocean-influenced winds typically blow through the Carquinez Strait on summer afternoons, bringing cool evenings and nights to the area after warm days. That's different than most of the Central Valley, which is out of reach of those ocean breezes.

'The fluctuations in temperatures make Chardonnay taste like Chardonnay, not like Thompson's seedless,' Johnson said.

Johnson opened the Winterhawk winery on 110 acres near Abernathy Road this year. The winery grows such grapes as merlot, Chardonnay and pinot noir, which thrive with the cool nights.

Cooler weather grapes don't provide enough wine varieties to support an on-site tasting room. Instead, Johnson sells wine at the recently opened Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative at 4495 Suisun Valley Road and on his Web site, where he has a wine club.

He also offers monthly wine education seminars through his wine club. Participants learn such things as what type of local wines match up with locally grown produce and how stylistic decisions make wines taste differently.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic Online.

Solano County: Payoffs Of Going Green

Solano County: Payoffs Of Going Green
East Bay Business Times - by Michael S. Ammann
Friday, April 25, 2008

Picturesque, green hillsides have long been associated with Solano County, but there's another kind of green that is saving millions of dollars for private sector companies and local governments.

Just as the protection of the county's beauty and open spaces are important, business and government leaders have long sought the use of new and alternative energy sources.

Seeking and using new energy sources is not new to Solano County. While the current trend toward utilizing alternative energy sources is sweeping the nation, many of Solano County's business establishments turned to alternative energy sources several years ago as a way to save money, get tax incentives and enjoy a good return on investment.

Anheuser-Busch in Fairfield, for example, has cut its energy use in half since 1970. The corporation, a high user of water, has also found ways to cut its water usage by 20 percent per six-pack since 1990, saving 910,000 gallons of water. Plant Manager Kevin Finger says a "fair amount of my day..." is spent paying attention to these things."

Solar panel technology has allowed many firms to drastically reduce operating costs. Two examples of major installations are Alza Corp. in Vacaville and Meyer Corp. in Fairfield.

Alza recently installed a field of 5,740 solar panels, an alternative energy system that is saving $700 a day in energy costs.

Meyer literally wiped out its electricity bill with a 4.8 megawatt energy-reduction system, and it has created a new enterprise, Meyer Solar, to refine silicon for alternative energy projects.

It would be a mistake to believe only major corporations see the benefits of energy saving projects.

The city of Vallejo and SPG Solar Inc. dedicated a 31 kilowatt solar power facility at the city's Police Department headquarters in August 2002. The solar array provides backup power for the police computer network, and a large proportion of the power needed every day by the police dispatch center.

The "unsung heroes" of Solano County greening are small businesses, according to John Ketcherside, account executive with Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

Ketcherside said at a recent Solano EDC meeting that it has been the "mom and pop operations" that have implemented small changes which have resulted in millions of dollars in savings. Changes to compact or linear florescent lights, strip curtains, refrigeration seals all result in considerable savings.

Small businesses can get $5,000 to $11,000 annually from PG&E for these small efforts, and that can make a big difference in their financial picture.

In addition to PG&E's energy incentives, Solano County launched a pilot green business program last year to encourage small-to-medium-sized businesses that handle or generate hazardous waste to voluntarily undergo a rigorous certification process to meet the Bay Area Green Business Program standards.

Triangle Digital INX Co., an ink manufacturer in Dixon, is the first business in Solano County to be certified. Both its facilities in Dixon have been certified by county inspectors. At least one business in each of the county's seven cities is actively pursuing the certification.

In the hills between Fairfield and Rio Vista windmills are now producing enough energy for 10,400 homes, and there will soon be another phase of windmills added, producing power for another 4,208 homes.

Another energy resource is the Rio Vista Gas Unit - the largest natural gas field in California.

Even though the field today is less productive, it still produces about 45 million cubic feet of natural gas daily. As technology, and with the capability to drill deeper, Rosetta Resources predicts it will be around for decades to come.

Solano County government will soon harness more than 1 million watts of electrical energy from the from the sun's rays when a school bus "shade structure" is completed later this year.

Add to this a large number of renewable energy projects in Vacaville, Vallejo and Fairfield and local cities are demonstrating the feasibility and cost effectiveness of solar energy.

There is more solar energy and more electric vehicles in Vacaville than there are in the recognized "green" communities of Davis and Berkeley. Vacaville has long been a leader in the use of alternative fuel vehicles - it has a fleet of 25 electric vehicles and will have 100 natural gas vehicles on the road this year.

Michael S. Ammann is president of the Solano Economic Development Corp.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Benicia farmers market kicks off

Benicia farmers market kicks off
Annual event sees rise in attendance

By SARA STROUD/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 04/25/2008 06:45:33 AM PDT

On opening day of Benicia farmers market, Sofia Gonsalves, 3, of Benicia helps herself to the fresh stawberries. (Stacey J. Miller/Times-Herald) BENICIA - Asparagus and strawberries are in full swing. That means the local farmers market is, too.
Thursday marked the kickoff of the 16th annual Benicia Main Street Farmers Market, which spans two blocks of downtown and blankets several more with the smell of Kettle Corn and other treats.

"I haven't seen this many people in so long," said Casey Hanley, a market regular who was pleased with the turnout, but lamented the absence of her favorite sandwich booth.

See for full article.

The Benicia Main Street Farmers Market is held from 4 to 8 p.m., every Thursday through October at the end of First Street.

• E-mail Sara Stroud at or call 553-6833.

Developer Turns To Mini Malls

Developer Turns To Mini Malls
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 04/24/2008

Morton Field on Mare Island in Vallejo, used by North Hills School for its football program and baseball practice, could become the site of a mini-mall if plans by local developer Robert Litwin and his business partners come to fruition. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

Despite being frustrated in their bid to bring the San Francisco Flower Mart to Mare Island, local developer Robert Litwin and his business partners have turned their attention to mini-malls.

Litwin and San Rafael-based Gabrielsen & Co. officials said they hope to build three shopping centers on and near Mare Island.

"We have always wanted to do something on Mare Island and when we couldn't get the Flower Mart idea off the ground, we started looking at something else," Litwin said Tuesday. "We thought, let's look at strip malls, because, really, that's what we do."

Gabrielsen & Co. real estate director Jim Owen said the group has been "trying to get various things going on Mare Island for a long time, but we've been thwarted at every turn. But we still want to do something on the island. The owner has a sentimental attachment to Vallejo and Mare Island."

Dubbed the Mare Island Marketplace, the multi-million dollar flower mart project, proposed nearly two years ago, would have included an exhibition center, two former Naval ships and other businesses. "Challenges" regarding building readiness and zoning prevented the project from going forward, Lennar Mare Island spokesman Jason Keadjian said.

Litwin's group has had "very preliminary talks" with Lennar and Touro University officials to discuss development options, Owen said. The hope is to develop strip malls near the island's entrance at Wilson Avenue, and just inside, on the playing field at Railroad Avenue and Mare Island Causeway, on property now controlled by Lennar. They also hope to create another near Highway 37 on the island's north end in the area where Touro plans a university village, he said.

"We're really excited about what Touro is doing out there, and we feel they're the key to the island's development," he said. "They're really doing something and are not just delivering empty promises."

The firm's officials hope to coordinate their ideas with Touro's to develop cohesive plans "that will work with what they're doing," Owen said. "They have a wonderful overall plan. They've done a lot and have a lot coming."

Touro vice president Dick Hassel said he's familiar with the group's desire to help develop the island and looks forward to more productive talks.

"I think anything that brings improvement to the community is great," Hassel said. "I know they're a reputable firm and have done other malls, and we appreciate Robert's inquiring as to what the needs are and we'll continue to work with him."

Owen said his excitement is tempered by past experience with Lennar.

"In the old days, I'd be more optimistic, but at every turn, something keeps coming up," he said. "But we're very interested in doing this and would like to go forward."

Keadjian said the Flower Mart is water under the bridge and Lennar is eager to review any proposal Litwin and Gabrielsen & Co. submits.

"We have had constructive preliminary discussions about their interest in Mare Island and its potential, but we've received no formal proposal," Keadjian said. "Lennar Mare island is motivated to locate new business to the island."

Morton Field, which is used by several sports teams, is in an area recently designated for commercial development, Keadjian said. The field will be relocated elsewhere, he added.

"We are speaking with a number of potential future users or investors about that area," he said.

• E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

APRIL 2008

Table of Contents
- Real Estate Roundup (March 2008)
- STA Annual Washington DC Trip
- Business Editors Speak to EDC Membership in May
- 2008 Annual Golf Tournament
- Did you know?

Real Estate Roundup
(March 2008)

Colliers International (
- 801 Chadbourne, Fairfield – 29,520 sf lease expansion to Freight Transport
- 840-A Eubanks Drive, Vacaville –57,926 sf lease to Dex Products, Inc.
- 840-D Eubanks Drive, Vacaville – 43,630 sf lease to JAK Transfer, Inc.
- Huntington Drive (Tolenas Industrial Park) – 23.79 acre land sale

Cornish & Carey (
- 5080 Park Road, Benicia – 17,482 sf lease to Custom Deliver Express

Cushman & Wakefield (
- 2339 Courage Drive,Fairfield – 36,000 sf leased to Elliot Turbomachinery Company

Grubb & Ellis (
- 801 Chadbourne, Fairfield – 29,520 sf lease expansion to Freight Transport

Premier Commercial (
- 96 Railroad Avenue, Suisun – 5,425 sf lease to R. Mitchell & D. Wicker
- Cherry Glen Rd and I-80, Vacaville – land sale of 3.16 acres to Garden Essentials

STA Annual Washington DC Trip

Solano Transportation Authority Annual Washington Trip April 1-3, '08 visits with key congressional representatives.
Over $600 M in highway funding is scheduled for road improvements in the next 5 years due to the partnership efforts of the STA. Photo left to right includes: Daryl Halls - STA; Mayor Augustine - City of Vacaville; Mayor Price - City of Fairfield; Mayor Davis - City of Vallejo; Mayor Woodruff - City of Rio Vista; Jayne Bauer - STA and Mike Ammann - President of Solano EDC. The group was united in their message to congressional representatives, seeking $13 million in federal earmarks.

Business Editors Speak to EDC Membership in May
Three prominent business publication editors will be featured at the May 28 EDC breakfast event at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield.
The editors of East Bay Business Times, North Bay Business Journal and Comstock’s Magazine will talk to members about their publications – what they are interested in covering, how to contact and submit news, and areas of high interest with readers.
The editors are: Al Pacciorini, East Bay Business Times; Brad Bollinger, North Bay Business Journal; and Douglas Curley, Comstock’s Magazine.
Reservations can be made by contacting Pat Uhrich at 707 864-1855.
Cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members.
This is a great opportunity for EDC members to become better acquainted with editors of these important business publications, and improve their chance to utilize the publications as part of their marketing/public relations strategy.

Plan now to participate in the Annual Solano EDC Golf Tournament
Mark your calendar and call now to reserve your place in the Aug. 11 EDC golf tournament at Green Valley Country Club. This event is a sellout every year. Don’t be shut out. Make reservations today!

Did you know?
The city of Dixon was originally supposed to be named “Dicksonville”, after local citizen Thomas Dickson whose land had been donated to create a railroad depot. The first rail shipment of merchandise from San Francisco arrived in 1872 mistakenly addressed to “Dixon,” and the new spelling has been used since mainly out of "simplicity."

The Solano Economic Development Corporation’s mission is to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in Solano County communities through the attraction, growth and retention of business and industry.

Solano EDC Team

Mike Ammann, President (
Sandy Person, Vice-President (
Pat Uhrich, Office Manager (
Andy Turba, Special Projects (

Solano Economic Development Corporation
360 Campus Lane, Suite 102, Fairfield, CA 94534
Phone: (707) 864-1855 Fax: (707) 864-6621 Website:

New campus makes the grade in Vacaville

New campus makes the grade in Vacaville
East Bay Business Times - by David Goll
Friday, April 11, 2008

Solano Community College should have a new, $18.7 million Vacaville campus open in time for the start of the 2009-2010 academic year.

Construction on the first phase of a 25-year plan to build a permanent satellite campus on 63 acres along North Village Parkway is scheduled to start in June if college district trustees approve a construction bid at their May 7 meeting, according to Frank Kitchen, director of facilities for the Fairfield-based college district. It will consist of a two-story, 40,000-square-foot building that will be able to accommodate 6,000 students.

The site is located across North Village Parkway from the existing Solano Community College campus, located in leased space, that opened in October 1996. Facilities operated by Kaiser Permanente of Oakland and Genentech Inc. of South San Francisco are nearby.

Kitchen said the new Vacaville structure should be ready two years after the district debuted another new satellite campus in Vallejo. That two-story, 39,468-square-foot, $22.3 million building opened in September 2007.

The Vallejo campus has proved such a draw that the district must add additional parking to accommodate a larger-than-expected number of students, Kitchen said. Previously, college classes were offered in the basement of Vallejo City Hall, Kitchen said.

The new campuses, along with a number of new and remodeled buildings on the 192-acre main college campus in Fairfield, were made possible by the passage of the $125 million Measure G bond measure by Solano County voters in 2006.

Kitchen said both campuses were designed by KMD Architects of San Francisco. A "bid walk" at the Vacaville site attracted more than 30 contractors, he added.

"They're not cookie cutter, but there are enough similarities between the two of them to make it easier to plan for how we will use the buildings," Kitchen said.

He said the Vacaville building will consist of 15 classrooms, a lecture hall, a recreational area and a general-purpose room. At present, the college offers transfer-level, lower-division courses in computer science, fire science and criminal justice, among other programs. | 925-598-1436

California utilities commission OKs PG&E-EnXco wind contract in Solano County

California utilities commission OKs PG&E-EnXco wind contract in Solano County
East Bay Business Times - by Mavis Scanlon
Thursday, April 10, 2008

The California Public Utilities Commission approved a new contract between Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and EnXco Inc. that calls for EnXco to build a 150-megawatt wind farm in Solano County.

PG&E and EnXco, an affiliate of the French renewable energy company EdF Energies Nouvelles, announced the 15-year renewable-energy contract in October. The EnXco Shiloh II generating facility is slated to come on-line at the end of this year and is expected to deliver 509 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year to PG&E customers in Northern and Central California.

Since 2002, PG&E has signed contracts for over 2,500 MW of renewable power as part of California's push for investor-owned utilities to increase the share of renewable energy to 20 percent by 2010. PG&E has made contractual commitments to have more than 20 percent of its future deliveries from renewables. For 2008, PG&E expects to have 14 percent of its energy delivered from renewable sources, according to the company.

EnXco first applied for a permit for Shiloh II in the fall of 2005. The project consists of 88 wind turbines situated in the Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area in Solano County.

The new turbines will have a total generation capacity of up to 176 megawatts, according to the project's final environmental impact report.

PG&E will build and operate a new transmission line associated with the project.

During the approval process for the project, the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission brought up several concerns, including potential turbine impacts on new digital radar being installed at Travis Air Force Base this year and potential turbine impacts on weather radar used by low-flying aircraft.

The radar issues have been resolved, according to Greg Blue, regional manager of external affairs for EnXco. | 925-598-1405

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fairfield firms instrumental in container creation, distribution

Fairfield firms instrumental in container creation, distribution

By Sally Wyatt/Reporter Correspondent Bob Lowe, Production Department Manager at Ball Metal in Fairfield, holds a painted and unpainted Pepsi can. The next stop on the production line for the painted can is a protective coating. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)

Fast facts
• Amcor PET in Fairfield makes more than 2 billion plastic bottles a year.
• Ball Metal Beverage Packaging in Fairfield makes more than 2.8 billion aluminum cans each year.
• Most wineries bottle their products in Saint-Gobain's glass bottles; its U.S. distribution center is in Fairfield.
• Rexam Beverage Can produces more than 50 billion cans each year for Europe, the United States and South America. It has 17 U.S. plants.

Next time you reach for a can of Pepsi, odds are very good that the aluminum can was made right here in Solano County. The same can be said for Gatorade, Hidden Valley Ranch, merlot and V-8 Juice, as four Fairfield businesses manufacture or distribute aluminum, plastic and glass containers for some of the world's best known food and beverage products.
"I can guarantee that Pepsi can is ours," said Jeff Prichard, plant manager for Ball Metal Beverage Packaging. The plant has been in operation for 30 years, and is set to celebrate the big anniversary in mid-September.

Prichard oversees a crew of 180 employees who work in shifts that run seven days a week, 24 hours a day. They produce about 2.8 billion aluminum cans a year, and Pepsi is the company's biggest customer. It also provides aluminum cans for Coke, Shasta, Safeway, Sierra Mist, Sprite, Dr. Pepper and "little, off-the-wall brands."

From start to finish, it takes about an hour to create an aluminum can, Prichard said.

The process begins with a 7-foot-wide, 25,000-pound "coil" of aluminum that, when unrolled, would actually stretch out about 4.5 miles in length. That coil will ultimately produce about 700,000 cans, he said.

As the coil starts its journey toward becoming aluminum cans, it will go through several different processes. First, the metal is "formed into a cup that looks like a tuna can," Prichard explained.

From there it is "drawn out and ironed" until it has been shaped into a 12-ounce can. Further down the line, it is trimmed, "necked" and then decorated.

"We have three different production lines," Prichard said, "and each is capable of putting on a different label at any time. In fact, we have one line where we can put on six different labels in one day. We can change colors and print just as you could at a newspaper."

The Fairfield facility also makes "can ends," but they are not placed on the aluminum cans at the plant; instead, customers fill the cans and put the ends on at their facilities.

The most amazing part of the process is the speed at which it all happens. Millions of cans are moving about at high speed, and the sight is "pretty overwhelming," Prichard noted.

Ball Metal isn't the only manufacturing facility to produce aluminum cans in Solano County. Rexam Beverage Can in Fairfield also makes aluminum cans, and by the billions, for customers including Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola.

"We make 4.1 million cans every 24 hours, or approximately 1.5 billion cans per year," said Christine Briceno, Human Resources manager for the Fairfield facility. That equates to 2,847 aluminum cans per minute.

To maintain that level of production, 95 employees work 12-hour shifts, day-in and day-out.

"We are a 24/7 facility," Briceno said.

Billions and billions of plastic bottles are created in Fairfield, too, at the Amcor PET Packaging facility.

The company - a division of Melbourne, Australia-based Amcor - is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., and has 50 manufacturing facilities worldwide that produce a variety of containers for a wide range of industries.

Every year its Fairfield facility - one of three in California - manufactures more than 2 billion plastic bottles for popular products such as Gatorade, Powerade, V-8 Juice, liquors, and Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing, according to Anita Difalco, spokesperson for the Fairfield manufacturing facility. The company's biggest customers are Coke and Pepsi.

Amcor PET's 148 employees work around the clock and its machines work at lightning speed in order to meet the demand for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles.

"We make thousands of bottles per minute," Difalco said. "Our fastest machine makes 28,000 an hour."

Glass wine bottles for chardonnay or merlot also spend some time in Solano County, according to Gina Behrman, marketing research and communications coordinator for Saint-Gobain Containers.

Saint-Gobain, which is headquartered in Muncie, Ind., produces glass containers in a variety of sizes and colors at its Madera and Seattle manufacturing facilities, which are then shipped to its Fairfield distribution center, the only distribution center the company has in the United States.

"These glass bottles are then distributed to wine producers throughout the U.S., as we are the primary supplier to the U.S. wine industry," Behrman explained.

To meet the demand, the distribution facility employs about 80 people, who work in shifts that last 24 hours a day, five days a week. St. Gobain is currently constructing a new facility at the intersection of Peabody Road and Air Base Parkway that is more than 1 million square feet.

A section of the production line at Ball Metal.

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City Spotlight: Benicia

City Spotlight: Benicia
East Bay Business Times - by East Bay Business Times
Friday, April 4, 2008

Elizabeth Patterson was elected mayor in 2007. She had served on the City Council from 2003, and earlier served two years on the Planning Commission. She has been a planner for two municipalities and currently is a staff environmental scientist for the state Department of Water Resources.

Elizabeth Patterson:

What excites you the most about Benicia's future? Becoming the "green" gateway to Solano County and meeting the challenge of global warming.

What troubles you the most about Benicia's future? Missing opportunities to be a leader in the county for greenhouse gas emission reduction.

What is the biggest opportunity in Benicia? The Benicia Business Park, a proposed 500-acre industrial development site that will potentially house many new businesses.

What is Benicia's biggest asset? Benicia has an extremely involved and educated community that truly contributes to making it a wonderful place to live and visit.

What is its biggest liability? Benicia has two freeways that run on either side of it, so although many people may drive by it daily, most are not really aware of our bustling industrial park and vibrant downtown.

What is the most important development project going or to come soon? Benicia Business Park. Also, the E Street Lot in Benicia's downtown area, which is a city-owned two-acre site.

What is something people don't know about Benicia? Benicia was the third state capitol in California (1853-1854). Benicia is home to the only pre-Sacramento capitol building that still survives.


Population: 27,916
Biggest private employer: Valero
No. of Valero employees: 531
No. 2 private employer: Dunlop Manufacturing
No. of Dunlop employees: 200
No. of business licenses: 1,650
No. of jobs in Benicia: 16,300
Median household income: $77,800
Median home price, February '08: $502,500

History: Benicia, along with Monterey, is one of the first two cities in California. It incorporated in 1850, and in 1853, became the state Capitol for one year. The Capitol moved to Sacramento in 1854. Benicia�s access to water and rail transport made it a key center for commerce. It is home to many historical sites. Besides the Capitol building, there is the Camel Barn Museum, where the Army�s experiment with camels as pack animals ended; the Clock Tower Fortress, a bastion built to protect the waterway; the Benicia Arsenal, the first ordinance supply depot on the West Coast; and the Fire Museum, home to a number of fire-fighting engines. Besides the historic downtown, Benicia is actively developing its waterfront and large industrial park. Above, the restored train depot at the foot of First Street is part of a revival of retail, homes and restaurants at the Benicia waterfront.

Business Of The Year

Business Of The Year
Local Firm Honored For Years Of Service To Community
By Robin Miller
Article Launched: 04/20/2008

In September, Vacaville's Phillippi Enginneering will mark its 25th anniversary in business, but it won't be the first celebration of the year for the firm.

That's because Phillippi Engineering was honored as Business of the Year Saturday night at the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce's annual Directors Ball.

In announcing the Business of the Year award, the chamber noted Tom Phillippi, president of the local firm, has been active with the chamber as a member and community partner for the past 20-plus years and touted his service as a former chairman of the Chamber Board.

"Tom knows the value of what the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce can do for community," read a press release on the award.

For his part, Phillippi was thrilled with the honor saying he views it as a "recognition of our company philosophy of giving back to the community."

The number of local projects and events that have benefited from Phillippi's involvment are too numerous to count but include help with building and re-building the Great Wonders playground at Andrews Park, the Three Flags Monument in downtown Vacaville, and the city's skate park. The firm also did civil engineering work for Stars Recreation Center and the new Nut Tree development.

Phillippi also was active with the chamber's task force on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

And through it all, he found time to be active in the community on a more personal level, coaching youth sports, serving with a local Rotary club and volunteering service with Habitat for Humanity.

Affordable housing needs are a hot button issue for Phillippi, who laments that his two married daughters and his grandchildren live in different community out of state where "things are more affordable."

For Phillippi, the idea of service to the community just was always a part of also being in business here.

"My wife and I have raised five kids here. It's a great community and place to grow up," he said. "You can't go out to a restaurant and not run into someone you know. It still has that small town feel. So giving back is a pleasure."

And he is quick to credit his wife, Sylvia, with the success of Phillippi Engineering.

"Back in the early days, she would come in and volunteer too," he recalled. "She'd set up the play pen for the kids and do the typing and all that. She was a huge part of everything."

The Business of the Year award was presented to Phillippi during a gala ball at the Yin Ranch Saturday night.

In addition, Frank Newton (Security-Shred) and Gigi Warshawsky (Food Safety Specialist) were honored as Ambassadors of the Year.

Out-going chair Debi Tavey was honored and in-coming chair Patsy Van Ouwerkerk was also recognized.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

10% more invested in Bay Area - Venture capitalists cut back 7% nationally last quarter

10% more invested in Bay Area
Venture capitalists cut back 7% nationally last quarter

Deborah Gage, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Venture capital investment fell nationally last quarter for the first time in nearly three years, but the Bay Area bucked the trend, according to numbers released today by Dow Jones.

In the United States, venture investments fell 7 percent from the same period a year ago to $6.84 billion invested in 603 deals.

Locally, however, investments rose 10 percent to $2.56 billion, which was invested in 213 deals, up four from a year ago.

The Bay Area also had two of the country's largest deals. In Santa Rosa, TriVascular2 spun out of Boston Scientific and raised $65 million in a first round led by MPM Capital and New Enterprise Associates. It plans to develop devices to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms.

In Brisbane, Glam Media, which owns Web sites aimed at women and also sells ads on a network of 450 lifestyle Web sites, raised $64.6 million in financing.

California accounted for nearly half of all deals and all venture money invested in the United States.

E-mail Deborah Gage at

This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sacramento-area tech innovators say funds aren't drying up

This story is taken from Sacbee / Business.

Sacramento-area tech innovators say funds aren't drying up
By Mark Melnicoe -
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, April 18, 2008

One area that has held up well amid the economic slowdown is emerging technology, but there could be a few clouds on the horizon, based on a report released Thursday.

The Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Confidence Index declined sharply for the second straight quarter, bringing it to a reading of 3.22 on a 5-point scale, the lowest in the four-year history of the index.

Mark Cannice, a business professor at the University of San Francisco and author of the index, said it reflected a worsening situation for emerging private companies being purchased or going public.

"The financial market volatility has made exits or the sale of venture-backed firms more difficult early in 2008," he said in a telephone interview.

Nevertheless, local venture capitalists pronounced themselves confident that funding is not drying up in the Sacramento region.

Scott Lenet, a founder and managing director at DFJ Frontier, said economic cycles aren't really what matter when it comes to VC investing.

"It's all about finding great entrepreneurs with a great business idea, no matter what state the economy is in," he said.

"Even the guys who are worried right now are going to keep investing," Lenet said. "Sometimes when people are a little bit nervous, that's when the best investments get made."

Cannice's report noted that only five venture-backed companies nationwide were able to move to initial public offerings during the first quarter. That's the lowest number in nearly five years. And only 56 venture companies were acquired by bigger firms in the first quarter – a 10-year low, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

Those meager results are a result of volatility in the public markets, analysts agree. And they have venture capitalists rethinking their investments in these small, startup companies – mainly information technology and life science firms.

"It is in a sense a further spread of the credit crisis," Cannice said. "The credit crisis essentially slowed down the public half of the capital markets. The venture capitalists … weren't affected immediately. It is now seeping into their business model."

Sacramento's KeyEye Communications, once a high-flier among local VC-backed firms, folded last month when it ran out of venture funding. CEO Mike McConnell complained that "VCs' lack of confidence" left his firm high and dry.

But Cameron Lewis is seeking venture funding now for VuStik, his West Sacramento-based company. It produces a device that uses near-infrared light to help medical practitioners better identify veins before putting a needle in them.

Lewis said he's not encountering any unusual resistance in seeking his Round A funding.

"If you've got a quality product, if you've developed the attributes of that product, that's what's important," he said.

Longtime local venture capitalist Roger Akers cited what he saw as a key difference between Silicon Valley and Sacramento.

"Investors in the Sacramento region are more opportunistic and less strategic in their approach to what they invest in, so as a result they look for good deals and good management teams that are going to flourish in our economy and take a longer-term view," he said.

Silicon Valley supplies a large share of the nation's VC funding – as much as 40 percent, analysts say.

While the confidence level there has dropped, the funds continue to raise money. The NVCA reported Monday that $6.3 billion was raised by venture firms nationwide in the first quarter, the same as the fourth quarter of 2007.

That money will get invested in entrepreneurial companies at some point, Cannice noted. But the timing and the terms may well change, he said.

He also saw a silver lining for those investing seed money to get companies off the ground.

"Early-stage investors are somewhat more optimistic," he said, "because they're looking three, four or five years down the road. In that way, it's not a bad time to invest in early-stage (ventures) because they don't have to worry about an exit for a couple, three years. And also, valuations have come down because they're getting more of the company."

Regional Ag Summit Looks At Food Production

Regional Ag Summit Looks At Food Production
Article Created: 04/11/2008

A recent summit to discuss the state of agriculture in Solano and Yolo counties found steps must be taken to ensure food production doesn't vanish from the area, several local officials said.

Agriculture, business and government officials gathered at UC Davis on March 26 for what Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan described as a "lively discussion" on the impact the industry has on the region's economic viability.

The Yolo/Solano Economic Development Summit was organized "to create awareness for a unified marketing approach to increase awareness of the agriculture industry, and to seek opportunities to develop vehicles that will lead to a structured agriculture tourism industry," according to a Solano Economic Development statement.

"Too often we overlook the importance of agriculture in both Solano and Yolo counties," said Michael Ammann, president of Solano EDC. "With this summit we hope to begin a dialogue that brings together the key players and increases opportunities in agriculture."

Sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., UC Davis, California Association for Local Economic Development, California Academy for Economic Development, Solano EDC and Yolo County Economic Development Division, the summit clarified some issues, Reagan said.

"Basically, both Solano and Yolo counties suffer from the demise of agriculture processing in the area," Reagan said. "Farmers have no place to sell their crops. When you have to transport your product more than 50 miles, you can't compete."

Yolo County officials are working on creating zones dedicated to food processing and Solano County, particularly the northern parts, also has some sites where agricultural processing would be suitable, Reagan and Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez said.

"The areas in the Suisun Valley we're looking at for ag tourism," Reagan said. "And there are areas near Dixon that would work for processing. Also Rio Vista, Vacaville has some areas, and just outside Vacaville, there are opportunities and we have to start looking at that."

Amman called the summit "the first step in a process that will bring attention to the area and perhaps result in a structured ag-tourism industry that pulls residents from both the Bay Area and Sacramento to visit Yolo/Solano to tour farms and ranches and purchase a vast array of agriculture products that are grown here."

Besides the economic angle to allowing food production to go by the wayside in Solano and Yolo counties, there's also the safety factor to consider, the men said.

"It used to be that most food came from within 50 miles of where it was grown," Vasquez said. "If you're worried about food safety, this is an issue."

Solano County Commuting Patterns Changing With More Headed To Sacramento

Solano County Commuting Patterns Changing With More Headed To Sacramento
East Bay Business Times - by David Goll
Friday, April 18, 2008

While Solano County is the nexus for freight transportation between the Bay Area and Sacramento, it is fast becoming a dividing line for commuters as well.

Jim Spering, who serves on the Board of Supervisors in Solano County, said 46 percent of commuters in Solano County, which has major employers but also many bedroom communities, leave the county for work. The majority commute to Contra Costa County, but a growing number - now 15 percent - commute eastward to Sacramento.

"We have express buses, trains and ferries for the westbound commuters, but not so much for those going east," he said.

That imbalance will improve, Spering said, with the construction of a major transit hub along Interstate 80 in Vacaville, near the Vacaville Premium Outlets shopping center. The $11.5 million Vacaville Intermodal Station will provide not only a jumping-off point for express buses going to the Pleasant Hill and El Cerrito del Norte BART stations in the East Bay, but express buses, carpools and vanpools heading east to downtown Sacramento, too.

Spering said traffic congestion along the I-80 corridor connecting the Bay Area and Sacramento, is not just a local problem.

"Because this transportation corridor is vital for the movement of goods and people throughout Northern California, we need local, regional and interregional planning to tackle this issue," he said.

A bright spot for commuters, he said, is the popular Capitol Corridor train service that connects the Sacramento region with Solano County, the East Bay and South Bay areas. The train continues to set ridership records, the most recent a 14 percent increase during February from the same month a year before, with more than 1.5 million people taking the trains. | 925-598-1436

East Bay, Sacramento To Cut Freeway Truck Trips With Deeper Shipping Channel

East Bay, Sacramento To Cut Freeway Truck Trips With Deeper Shipping Channel
East Bay Business Times - by David Goll
Friday, April 18, 2008

The first step in reducing the number of freeway truck trips between the East Bay and the state capital by at least 23,000 a year has come with allocation of $10 million to deepen the Sacramento Ship Channel.

The California Transportation Commission's $10 million commitment will be matched by $10 million from the Port of Sacramento. The $80 million project will deepen the 43-mile-long channel between West Sacramento and the Solano County town of Collinsville in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta from 30 to 35 feet. The remaining money will have to be secured from other government sources.

Officials from both the Bay Area and Sacramento region embarking on interregional planning efforts hope that more robust ship traffic on the channel leading to the Port of Sacramento will make a major contribution to reducing the number of trucks - and the resulting diesel-fuel pollution - needed to move goods between the two areas.

Mike Luken, manager of the Port of Sacramento, located in the Yolo County suburb of West Sacramento, said the CTC's financial contribution is just the beginning.

"We will be seeking $60 million in federal funds," he said. Work on the $80 million project should begin in late 2009 or early 2010 fiscal year, with completion expected by mid-year 2013.

Luken said that while about 30 percent of all deep-draft ships carrying cargo can now make it to Sacramento's port, that will increase to 70 percent once the channel is 35 feet deep.

In 2006, the Port of Oakland, the nation's fourth-busiest container port, took over management of the smaller Port of Sacramento. It was hoped the cooperative arrangement would both boost activity at the inland port - at the center of the state's agricultural bounty - and provide overflow support for the teeming Port of Oakland, which is grappling with increases in cargo volume, especially farm crop exports from California and imports of consumer goods from Asia.

The cooperative relationship between the two ports also serves as a centerpiece in the growing movement to coordinate planning between the nine-county Bay Area and six-county Sacramento region as the two fast-growing metropolitan areas form what the federal government calls a "megaregion."

A study by the two ports revealed that a deeper Sacramento Ship Channel could eliminate up to 23,000 annual trips by trucks moving goods between the two ports.

One of the first attempts at mega-regional cooperation occurred April 10, when the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments, both Bay Area regional planning groups based in Oakland, met with members of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments at the UC-Davis campus. Improvements in transportation and land-use planning were high on the agenda.

"This really breaks some new ground," said John Goodwin, spokesman for the MTC, which oversees transportation funding and planning in the Bay Area. "Even though these are two separate metropolitan areas, it just makes sense to consider what each other is doing when we look at the growing amount of interregional travel between the Sacramento and Central valleys and the Bay Area."

Goodwin said planners need to consider freeway corridors like Interstates 80 and 580, passenger railroads like the Capitol Corridor and Altamont Commuter Express, and rail and water systems carrying goods between the two regions and beyond.

"Improving the transportation of goods and people is critical to the economic well-being of both areas," he said. "One is definitely increasing the use of barges and ships to move goods between the ports of Oakland and Sacramento. And if you extend the boundaries of the megaregion to the Sierra Nevada, there are some very interesting proposals to expand rail tunnels in the Donner Pass region to accommodate double-deck container trains as a way to transport goods from Northern California ports to points east."

Jim Spering serves on the Board of Supervisors in Solano County - ground zero in the people and freight transportation connections between the Bay Area and Sacramento.

"I think this event was a good starting point for the interregional planning process," Spering said. "But I also think it's very important for us to get beyond an academic forum and get into practical applications." | 925-598-1436

EnXco To Supply PG&E With New Solano County Wind Farm

EnXco To Supply PG&E With New Solano County Wind Farm
East Bay Business Times - by Mavis Scanlon
April 18, 2008

Stephanie Secrest | East Bay Business Times
Greg Blue says enXco wants to expand.

A new wind farm being built by enXco near Rio Vista will add 150 megawatts to the total wind energy produced in Solano County, where turbines already generate enough electricity to power 150,000 homes.

In the 30 years since the California Energy Commission identified some southern and western parts of the county as attractive sites for wind farms, developers have installed wind turbines that generate 474 megawatts of power.

Earlier this month the California Public Utilities Commission approved a power-purchase agreement between Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and enXco, the Escondido subsidiary of French renewable energy company EdF Energies Nouvelles, that calls for enXco to build the 150-megawatt wind farm in Solano's Collinsville-Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area. EnXco initially planned to erect 88 turbines that would generate 176 megawatts, but scaled back after it signed a contract for 150 megawatts. In a related project, PG&E will upgrade an 11-mile section of its existing Vaca Dixon-Contra Costa transmission line.

EnXco's Shiloh II generating facility, which will include 75 two-megawatt turbines on a 6,100-acre site in the Collinsville-Montezuma region, is slated to come on line at the end of this year. After a permitting process that ran 2½ years, the project's Environmental Impact Report was certified on March 20 and enXco received its conditional use permit for the project. Shiloh II will generate 70 to 80 construction jobs and 8 to 10 permanent jobs, according to Greg Blue, enXco's regional manager for external affairs.

Blue declined to disclose the total cost for the project. But the Minneapolis, Minn., nonprofit Windustry estimates that two-megawatt wind turbines cost about $3 million installed, which would put the price tag on Shiloh II at $225 million.

EnXco, which has a regional office in San Ramon, developed the 150-megawatt Shiloh I project before selling it to PPM Energy of Portland, and owns and operates the far smaller and much older wind farm enXco V - one of the original wind farms in the county.

With the latest enXco project, PG&E now has more than one gigawatt of wind power being delivered or under contract. It moves the state a notch closer to its goal of getting retail sellers of electricity to generate 33 percent of their energy sold from renewable sources by 2020. But as Solano County officials court further large-scale wind turbine electric generating facilities, they need to tackle a thorny issue that has hindered other proposed projects: the impact wind turbines have on air traffic control radar equipment at nearby Travis Air Force Base.

Depending on the number and location of turbines, they can affect a radar system's ability to locate and track planes in the air by causing false signals.

At least two wind power projects in the development stage, including a 128-megawatt development planned by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and projects totaling 105 megawatts planned by Florida's FPL Energy, are stalled or suspended as the companies work with the county, the Federal Aviation Administration and the military on the radar issues.

EnXco's Shiloh II project was also held up for about a year after the Air Force in March 2007 sent a letter stating its concerns over turbine interference with radar. After much back-and-forth, the Air Force finally concluded that issues with the radar equipment are an existing condition pertaining to the 700 or so wind turbines already installed in the Collinsville-Montezuma region. EnXco's project would not further deteriorate radar reception, it said.

Blue said enXco helped form a group to study the issue, and offered the Air Force $1 million for studying the issue and coming up with remedies.

Now, with the Air Force expected to install a new digital radar system later this year, the military wants to wait to see how the new equipment works relative to the turbines; the other firms interested in building new wind farms in Solano County may have months more to wait before they can proceed.

"Basically what we have to do is part of the costs of projects in the future includes putting in the fixes for the FAA," said Michael Reagan, a Solano County Supervisor for District 5, which includes the Collinsville-Montezuma wind resource area, the only one that has been developed in the county to date.

"The barriers to future growth center on the radar solution, which we're working through with the base," said Michael Ammann, president of the Solano County Economic Development Corp. Another issue Solano faces as it looks to further develop its designated wind resource areas is "having a wide enough (transmission) pipe into the grid," Ammann said.

Even as enXco gets this project under way, it is looking at developing other wind and solar energy projects, in Solano and elsewhere in California and the West. "We're going to be a large supplier of RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) power in California," Blue said. | 925-598-1405

Fairfield Vehicle-Salvage Company Buys Missouri Site

Fairfield Vehicle-Salvage Company Buys Missouri Site
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fairfield-based Copart, which provides a range of services to insurers and others needing to sell salvaged vehicles, has acquired Bob Lowe's Salvage Pool in Sikeston, Mo.

With the addition of the Missouri facility, Copart oversees 130 in North America and 145 worldwide. Copart now has four facilities in Missouri.

Willis J. Johnson, Copart's founder and chief executive, said the newly acquired 30-acre site will serve southeast Missouri and portions of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas.

"This location is ideal because it sits near the intersection of five states," Johnson said. "We are happy to have this facility as part of our network to better service our customers."

Founded in 1982, Copart helps process and sell salvage vehicles, mostly to licensed dismantlers, rebuilders and used-vehicle dealers via the Internet. Salvage vehicles typically are those deemed a total loss by insurers or recovered stolen vehicles that have already been part of an insurance settlement.

Asian Supermarket Has Super-Fresh Seafood

Asian Supermarket Has Super-Fresh Seafood
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | April 13, 2008

VACAVILLE - This city's first Asian supermarket has fish and crab so fresh they're still swimming in the tank.

Pick any country or cuisine from India, China, Japan or other parts of the Far East and the shelves of County Square Market on Peabody Road probably has it.

The store that just opened its doors Saturday is part of a major expansion by the Pleasant Hill-based specialty market.

Ann Lewald and her family, who owns the chain, are confident the growing Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the area can support the Vacaville store.

Solano County has a good number of small Asian food stores, but County Square will be the first with enough space to offer a wide variety of foods from all over the Far East.

'We are not tied to any particular ethnic food, but we offer a bit of everything,' Lewald said.

The store boasts a full line of meat and seafood, Chinese barbecue, whole roast ducks and pig, plus lots of fresh produce.

'We have all the fresh fish that you don't see in some place like Lucky's and Safeway,' Lewald said. The extensive selection is shipped from around the world.

Its deli has a wide offering of ethnic foods from chow mein to egg plants and takes particular pride in its dim sum offerings. Many selections will rotate to offer as wide a variety as possible.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic Online.

Local Economic Studies Planned

Local Economic Studies Planned

Solano Economic Development Corp. in partnership with Solano County and Doug Henton, president and co-founder of Collaborative Economics, is working on a Solano Economic Index of key industry cluster studies.

The tools will help measure the economic strength and health of local communities as well as provide an analytical foundation for decision making.

To learn more about the Solano Economic Index and Cluster Studies, join Solano EDC at the Fairfield Hilton Garden at 7:30 a.m. April 24. Henton will provide an overview and answer questions.

For more information or to make a reservation, call 864-1855.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008



Five new pest-resistant grape rootstocks recently released by UC Davis are environmentally friendly alternatives to chemical fumigants.

The new rootstocks are resistant to nematodes (tiny worms) and phylloxera (aphids) -- two of the most damaging vineyard pests. They feed on the plant roots, severely weakening the vines and drastically reducing grape yield.

In the past, growers have used chemical fumigants to kill such pests but, in many cases, fumigation now is either ineffective or not permitted.

The hardy new rootstocks were unveiled March 31 during a public ceremony at the campus's Foundation Plant Services nursery, marking the culmination of 15 years of research by Professor Andrew Walker, a plant geneticist and breeder in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, and Howard Ferris, a professor in the Department of Nematology.

"These new rootstocks are designed to be planted in the ground without fumigation," Walker said. "They provide growers with a new alternative to fumigation -- a new, 'greener' way, if you will, of solving the problem."

The rootstock includes the root and trunk of a grape plant, onto which many different grape vine varieties can be grafted. Walker and Ferris developed the new rootstock plants using conventional breeding methods.

Wine from the rootstocks could be on the shelves by 2013, following two years of nursery propagation, three years growing in a vineyard, and one year in the bottle. Table grapes will be available a year earlier.

Media contact(s):
* Andrew Walker, Viticulture and Enology, (530) 752-0902,
* Deborah Golino, Foundation Plant Services, (530) 754-8102,
* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,



The UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center will receive grants of $1.1 million from three new sponsors: Chevron Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
and Goldman Sachs.

Chevron and Wal-Mart have each pledged $100,000 per year for five years. Goldman Sachs is providing $100,000 this year. Their contributions bring the 2-year-old center's funding to a total of over $5 million.

"This support is essential to the Energy Efficiency Center's efforts to bring new technologies out of inventors' garages and research labs and into the market, where they can make real and lasting changes," said founding director Andrew Hargadon, a professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

Established in 2006, the Energy Efficiency Center is the world's first university center of excellence in energy efficiency. Its objective is to speed the transfer of new energy-saving products and services into the homes and lives of Californians.

The center's start-up funding of $1 million came from the California Clean Energy Fund, a public benefit corporation dedicated to making equity investments in clean energy companies. UC Davis is matching the CalCEF grant with $1.3 million in operating and research funds, faculty time, and office and laboratory space.

The EEC's teaching and research partners at UC Davis include the California Lighting Technology Center, Western Cooling Efficiency Center, Center for Entrepreneurship, Institute of Transportation Studies, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, California Biomass Collaborative, California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research, and Postharvest Technology Research and Information Center.

The three new sponsors will have the following representatives on the 14-member Energy Efficiency Center board of advisers.

* Chevron: John McDonald, vice president and chief technology officer;
* Wal-Mart: Charles Zimmerman, vice president of prototype and new format development; and
* Goldman Sachs: Larry Kellerman, managing director.

The full board of advisers is listed online at <>.

Additional information:
* UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center <>
* Chevron <>
* Wal-Mart <>
* Goldman Sachs <>

Friday, April 11, 2008


University of California, Davis
April 11, 2008


[Editor's note: Image of Thiebaud print available on request.]

The Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville is hosting an exclusive exhibition of prints by some of this century's most acclaimed artists, all with ties to the art department at UC Davis. The prints come from the vast collection of Oregon art patron and philanthropist Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Portland, Ore.-based family foundation.
Schnitzer, in partnership with Margrit Mondavi, created the exhibit to bring attention to the strength and legacy of the art department at UC Davis. Featured for the first time in one exhibit will be some 30 pieces by Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley, Roy De Forest, Robert Arneson, John Buck, Bruce Nauman, David Gilhooly, Squeak Carnwath and Christopher Brown. With the exception of Thiebaud, who still teaches at UC Davis, all are former faculty or students of the Department of Art.

The "UC Davis @ Robert Mondavi" exhibit will be open to the public by appointment from Sunday, April 27, through Thursday, May 15. The exhibit is free. To view the collection, please contact the winery at
(707) 968-2200.

Media contact(s):
* Amanda Price, College of Letters and Science, (530) 752-9203,
* Claudia Morain, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9841,

Venture fund raising $15M for entrepreneurs Regional fund is backed by nonprofit networking group

Friday, March 21, 2008

Venture fund raising $15M for entrepreneurs

Regional fund is backed by nonprofit networking group

Sacramento Business Journal - by Melanie Turner Staff writer
Local venture capital funds DCA Capital Partners and Wavepoint Ventures have agreed to act as fund management advisers for a new regional venture fund that is in the process of raising $15 million.

Golden Capital Venture Funds is backed by Golden Capital Network of Chico, a nonprofit networking, training and consulting group that fosters entrepreneurship and early-stage investing, something it says is often overlooked in Northern and Central California markets.

In October, GCN received a $250,000 federal grant to cultivate startup companies in those markets. The money is being used to educate and train entrepreneurs in about a dozen communities, and to establish Web portals for those communities.

The portals allow entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts to communicate and collaborate online, said Chris Soderquist, a general partner with Golden Capital Venture Funds. The main portal can be found at

Besides bringing people together, GCN intends to fund early-stage companies. When GCN announced last fall it had received the grant, officials also said they planned to launch eight regional networks of angel investors, each with a goal of $4 million per fund, for what could have become a $32 million venture fund to back seed-stage companies in the north state.

The organization has since altered the plan, opting for "one fund representing multiple communities," said Soderquist, adding that legal and accounting costs made multiple funds cost-prohibitive.

The group is targeting $15 million in the first round, with a goal of developing other investment chapters, in other communities, to raise a second or third fund.

The initial fund, Soderquist said, will support 20 to 25 seed-stage companies over three to five years in five regions: Chico, Yolo County, Sacramento, Santa Rosa and the wine country, and the Monterey/Santa Cruz area. All five regions have few, if any, early-stage investment resources; they're anchored by a university; and they're growing and have had migration from the Bay Area, Soderquist said.

The fund has three general partners: GCN chief executive officer and founder Jon Gregory, GCN vice president and founder Dan Nguyen-Tan, and Soderquist, a local entrepreneur and founding board member of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance.

Roger Akers of the Sacramento Angels has been appointed chairman of the fund's advisory group.

Given all that GCN has done to connect startups to investment groups over the years, it was a natural for GCN to form its own fund, said Pete Bernardoni, a managing director at Wavepoint Ventures.

"We've known these folks for years," he said. "They've done a great job in terms of economic development with these startups. We would love to see them have some money to help grow these companies."

Since 1999, GCN has showcased more than 1,000 companies to more than 350 investment groups through its venture capital conferences. GCN alumni companies have raised more than $1.3 billion in venture capital financing, according to GCN.

Golden Capital Venture Funds aims to be the first institutional investor for companies in these communities seeking an initial round of between $250,000 and $750,000, Soderquist said.

While Wavepoint Ventures targets early- to mid-stage investments, DCA Partners is focused on mid- to late-stage investments.

"So we're not competitive but complementary," Soderquist said.

Wavepoint Ventures and DCA Partners will be paid an undisclosed amount to help manage and operate the fund. Though Soderquist said the venture capital funds won't get priority for investments for their role in the fund, Bernardoni said venture capitalists will benefit when there are more opportunities to invest in the region. | 916-558-7859

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