Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Economy focus of summit

Economy focus of summit
By Danny Bernardini/DBernardini@TheReporter.com
Article Launched: 11/18/2008

Solano County is outpacing the Bay Area and the state as a whole in the growth of specialized industries, but nearly a third of its high school students aren't graduating.

That information, along with several other trends in the county, will be discussed Thursday at Solano Economic Summit 4, sponsored by Solano Economic Development Corporation. The event will be held at 8 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield.

The report, titled "Solano County 2008 Index of Economic and Community Progress" was created by Doug Henton, CEO of Collaborative Economics. Henton said the upcoming summit is an extension of some held in the past in which trends and forecasts for the county were discussed.

Thursday's will be the first of several reports that were hatched when Solano County partnered with Solano EDC in February to the tune of $484,000. Another report, which will focus on real estate trends in the county, is scheduled to be released in January.

Looking at the economy, the community, and areas that connect the two will be the focus of this week's summit. Henton said that overall, Solano's per capita income grew 15 percent from 2000 to 2007, which is double the Bay Area rate. He also said the growth industries like Life Science and advanced food production have exceeded that of the Bay Area.

"We think that's important. We will look into that more in-depth and see how it can grow even more," Henton said. "Each one of those areas grew and grew faster than the Bay Area as a whole. And cluster industries create higher wage jobs."

While job opportunities are growing, Henton said the available candidates coming out of local schools isn't as positive of a subject. He said in 2007, 31 percent of students in Solano County didn't finish high school.

"If you are going to have the higher skilled jobs, you need to prepare the workforce," he said.