Friday, November 21, 2008

Solano's changes documented in new booklet

Solano's changes documented in new booklet
By Danny Bernardini/
Posted: 11/21/2008

Solano County is changing.

From the industries it houses, to the ethnicity of the people living in the county, there is a difference when comparing it to previous years.

In an effort to document the change and to attempt to find trends and solutions to some of the issues arising from these changes, the data has recently been collected in one place.

Born from a partnership between the Solano Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and Solano County, the "Index of Economic and Community Progress" was produced.

This booklet and many of the ideas behind it were on display Thursday during the Solano Economic Summit 4 in Fairfield. The booklet and accompanying Web site was created by Doug Henton with Collaborative Economics.

"We need facts. We need a baseline of information," Henton told the group. "But this is not just data. It's designed to be a call to action. There's some good news here, but there are some challenges."

Since 2000, the county's per capita income has increased at a higher rate than the Bay Area. Housing production has exceeded the amount of residents in the county, but those that are here are helping bridge that gap, Henton said.

"This is a region people came to, but that's changed. A lot of the people who came here were highly educated and created a nice economic base," he said. "Per capita income is one of the most important indicators of economic prosperity."

While many larger industries, like Life Sciences, are growing and hiring more employees, Henton said other smaller fields are quietly expanding without the need to hire more bodies.

Henton dubbed them micro enterprises, those that employ 10 workers or less. These include law firms, consultants and engineers, Henton said. He said it's important to factor these companies in the big picture.

"Not everybody works for a big company anymore," he said. "Now, how do you service these companies?"

Students in the county were also discussed as 31 percent of those that started high school failed to finish. John Thompson, former Vacaville city manager, spoke about how America's school systems differ than those abroad.

Thompson said foreign schools go to school more days per year, and compare themselves globally, not to similar districts. He said less and less students are leaving high school prepared for high paying jobs.

"For many of our young people, they don't even know they are in a battle," he said. "Let alone that they are losing."

For a full version of the report visit