Friday, August 29, 2008

Sacramento area's tech index declines a bit

Sacramento area's tech index declines a bit

By Darrell Smith - dvsmith@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, August 29, 2008

Sacramento's tech sector is remaining resilient in the face of a struggling economy, officials say after the release of the SARTA Tech Index.

"Our region is not immune to what's being felt in markets across the country, but we're kind of holding our own," said J.D. Stack, chief executive officer of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance, a nonprofit technology incubator.

In the greater Sacramento area, the technology sector has been a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economy dragged down by tightened credit and a battered housing market.

SARTA established the quarterly index in 2003. It tracks revenue, employees and equity capital raised by the nine-county Sacramento region's top 50 technology firms.

The index, initially set at 100 when it was established in 2003, was put at 263.2 in the first quarter of 2008, the latest reporting period. That's slightly down from the record mark set in the fourth quarter of 2007, when the index hit 265.51.

The results from the first quarter of 2008 provide a snapshot during a rapidly changing economy, and according to the report:

• Employment in the privately held companies in the index was flat but new capital at $11.6 million was strong.

• Big local techs like aerospace firm GenCorp, software maker Unify and telecommunications company SureWest decreased in value, down 11 percent, 10 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

• For the first time in a year, local publicly held firms largely outperformed the Dow Jones, Nasdaq and Standard and Poor's 500 indexes.

• Two companies, medical technology firm LifeWave Inc. of North Highlands and energy firm Marquiss Wind Power of Folsom, were added to the index.

Earlier delays in the revamp of the index's Web site pushed back the results' release but Stack says the numbers show that the Sacramento region's tech sector remains steady.

"We're down less than 1 percent despite everything that's going on in the general economy," Stack said. "It's not that bad."

UC Davis' undergraduate program in biological and agricultural engineering is ranked 5th among large national research

News for Faculty and Staff of the University of California, Davis


August 22, 2008

U.S. News rankings released
UC Davis' undergraduate program in biological and agricultural engineering is ranked 5th among large national research universities, and its overall undergraduate engineering program is ranked 35th, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2009 "America's Best Colleges" report released today.

In addition, the magazine's newest rankings acknowledge UC Davis for the diversity of its student body and for the strength of its undergraduate writing program. UC Davis' student body is the 17th most racially and ethnically diverse among large national research universities, tied with UC Berkeley, according to the magazine. And UC Davis and UCLA are the only UC campuses named on a list of 23 universities nationwide that "typically make writing a priority at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum."

Overall, UC Davis ranked 44th among national universities for the magazine's 2009 report, tied with UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, and tied for 12th with those campuses among the top public national universities. In its 2008 report, U.S. News ranked UC Davis tied for 42nd overall and tied for 11th among public national universities.

Benicia school under construction

Benicia school under construction
By TONY BURCHYNS/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 08/29/2008



John DeSilva finishes hooking up power and internet connections under the last of the workstations in the computer lab of Joe Henderson Elementary School in Benicia. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

BENICIA - For Joe Henderson Elementary School students, the start of a new year has meant returning to a construction zone.
As the students go about their daily routines, the 21-year-old school is undergoing major improvements, thanks to maintenance funds from the state, school district officials said.

Every day since school began Aug. 18, children, teachers and staff have shared their days with construction workers who have been busy installing ceiling panels, heating ducts, new plumbing and other improvements around the school.

The $2.45 million project - for which the state is paying 60 percent of the cost - also includes new carpets, windows, roofs and fire-alarm and bell systems.

The work started during the summer and is expected to be finished by Sept. 12, district officials have indicated.

"I'm looking forward to it being done," parent Babette Snowder said as she waited to pick up her two sons after school. "I'm looking forward to having things go back to normal."

For students, one small drawback to the ongoing construction work is being unable to use the black top during recess. That's where workers have placed several large Dumpsters to cart away debris.

Also, classes have been forced to line up in front of the school in the morning, sometimes creating a chaotic-looking scene.

"It's like a zoo," Snowder said, adding she hoped to get a closer look at the renovations at Thursday night's back-to-school meeting.

"It's a much-needed facelift," added parent Janna Valdez, who was waiting to pick up her second-grade daughter.

Principal Bobbi Horack said the construction work hasn't disrupted learning, even though the library's off limits for the first few weeks of school, until new cabinets are installed.

"Cosmetically, the cabinets are the biggest thing we're waiting on," Horack said.

The school's office and teacher break room are also awaiting final touches, including a sink and new refrigerator for teachers to use.

Another room is being transformed into an equipment hub, which will house a copy machine, fax machine, paper shredder and other electronic necessities.

When the construction crews leave, Horack said she'll miss them.

"These guys have been great," Horack said. "And they get a kick out of the kids."

• E-mail Tony Burchyns at tburchyns@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6831.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fairfield honors projects for distinctive designs

Fairfield honors projects for distinctive designs
By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | August 27, 2008



The Green Valley Executive Center was one of the city of Fairfield's annual design award winners. Photo by Chris Jordan

FAIRFIELD - Several projects across Fairfield were winners of the city's annual design awards, which are likely to be presented in October.

Fairfield presents the design awards every two years to commercial and residential projects that stand out for their architectural design or other features, city planner Brian Miller said.

The Pony Express Office Park on Westamerica Drive won awards in almost all the categories: site planning, landscape architecture, building architecture and building conservation.

The Green Valley Executive Center, which is also home to the Fairfield Cordelia Library, won awards for site planning and architecture.

Projects were nominated by members of the public, city staff or private businesses, Miller said. The judging was conducted Aug. 16, when a jury of local artists and planning commissioners visited all the nominated sites.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

New commander says Travis counts on community

New commander says Travis counts on community
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | August 27, 2008



Travis Air Force Base 60th Air Mobility Wing commander Col. Mark Dillon. Photo by Brad Zweerink

TRAVIS AFB - Col. Mark 'Marshal' Dillon, the new commander of the 60th Air Mobility Wing, came to Travis Air Force Base knowing the base has a strong relationship with the communities surrounding it.

'It is one of the crown jewels of Travis,' Dillon said Wednesday. 'Travis provides a huge underpinning to the community and our community partners provide a lot of support.'

The Aug. 16 wildfire that consumed nearly 200 vacant homes on the base's west side confirmed how deep that support is.

'The proof in the pudding was that day,' Dillon said of the rapid, massive response by fire departments and fire districts across Solano County that ensured the fire did not reach any occupied homes.

'I have seen bases with strong community relations, but I have seen none stronger than here,' said Dillon, who draws personal support from his wife, Sara, and their three sons, Charles, Jack and Luke.

Dillon, 46, took over command of the 60th Air Mobility Wing from Col. Steven Arquiette on June 30.

'My goals are the same at the Air Force's -- win today's fights, take care of our own and prepare for tomorrow's challenges,' Dillon said. 'If what we are doing doesn't fit one of those goals, then we probably should not be doing it.'

While Dillon doesn't consider himself to be a history buff, he strongly believes there are numerous lessons to be learned from what the nation and the Air Force has done in the past.

During his address at the change of command ceremony, Dillon compared the challenge of waging the war on terror to the trying times during the darkest winter of the American Revolution.

Dillon, who was born in San Jose, has worn Air Force blue since he graduated from Arizona State University and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1984 through the Officer Training School there.

Since then, he has risen through the ranks with assignments that included his arrival at Travis in June 2000 as an operations officer for the 22nd Airlift Squadron.

Dillon served as the 22nd Airlift Squadron's commander and then deputy commander for the 60th Operations Group before heading to the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in July 2003.

His first impressions of Travis in 2000 were that of 'a big base, big mission and global responsibility.'

The heart of that mission, Dillon said, is to project the nation's military and humanitarian capabilities anywhere in the world on a moment's notice.

'Any type of capability, this wing can project it,' Dillon said of the missions, which have ranged from typhoon relief to supporting the global war on terror.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Renovation of water treatment plant on schedule

Renovation of water treatment plant on schedule
By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | August 26, 2008

FAIRFIELD - Dry weather has been good news for the city's water treatment plant.

The project to renovate the Waterman Treatment Plant has benefited from a dry winter and spring, and is on schedule to be completed in September 2009, said Rick Wood, assistant director of the city's Public Works Department.

The project involves modernizing the plant and doubling its capacity, Wood said.

'We took this opportunity to bring the plant's technology and original construction up to date from the 1970s,' Wood said. 'A lot of that was working quite well, but we felt it was time to prepare for the next 50 years.'

Some components of the project have already been completed and put into use at the plant, which is staying operational during the renovation, Wood said. About 70 percent of the project budget has already been spent, he said.

The project will likely not change the quality of the water as it reaches consumers, Wood said. Rather, it will allow the plant to accept and treat poorer-quality water.

'We don't want to shut our plant down if the water gets too turbid,' he said. 'We want to be able to treat through that.'

One reason the doubled capacity is important is because it will accommodate future growth in Fairfield. Added capacity also allows more flexibility for those operating the water system and balancing the supply with water from the NorthBay Regional Water Treatment Plant, Wood said.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Caltrans director touts projects to improve I-80

Caltrans director touts projects to improve I-80
By Barry Eberling | Daily Republic | August 26, 2008



Caltrans director Will Kempton prepares to leave Fairfield on a zero emission, hydrogen-powered AC Transit bus after speaking at the Green Valley park and ride Tuesday morning. Kempton was on a bus tour across the state with press and other public officials promoting highway improvements made by his agency. Photo by Brad Zweerink

FAIRFIELD - State Department of Transportation Director Will Kempton used a grapefuit-sized concrete rock to illustrate the terrible shape of Interstate 80 and the improvements that are now under way.

That rock came from nearby deteriorating freeway pavement. It popped loose in recent days under the weight of a passing truck and went flying. It missed cars but nearly struck a Caltrans worker, who was taking photos of the Fairfield carpool lane construction project.

'This is what we're dealing with on our road systems in California,' Kempton said during a Tuesday press conference at the Green Valley park-and-ride lot.

Kempton emphasized the I-80 transformation. Caltrans is spending $1 billion on the freeway from San Francisco to the Nevada border over the next few years. It is spending $290 million in Solano County, including $125 million to repave stretches from Vallejo to Vacaville.

Kempton arrived at the press conference in a hydrogen-powered bus that also carried the media. He spent the morning traveling the 170 miles of I-80 in California, stopping at various locations to highlight construction projects.

Local leaders such as Fairfield Mayor Harry Price, Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis, Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls and Assemblywoman Lois Wolk joined him for the Solano County stops.

Price was upbeat to have such projects as the 8.7-mile-long carpool lane coming to Fairfield.

'Thank you very much, Director Will Kempton and all the folks at Caltrans, for making this a reality today,' Price said.

Davis found it encouraging that Caltrans is investing money to repave I-80 during tough economic times. Vallejo will develop its economic future around the freeway, he said...

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Interstate 80 projects in Solano County

-- Repave from Tennessee Street to American Canyon Road in Vallejo. Cost: $35 million Construction: under way, finish summer 2009.

-- Repave from American Canyon Road to Green Valley Creek in Fairfield. Cost: $38 million. Construction: summer 2009 to fall 2010.

-- Renovate Hunter Hill rest stop in Vallejo. Cost: $8.2 million. Construction: January 2009 to winter 2012.

-- Build carpool lanes from Red Top Road to Air Base Parkway in Fairfield. Cost: $53 million. Construction: under way, finish fall 2009.

-- Relocate eastbound truck scales in Fairfield. Cost: $64 million. Construction: fall 2012 to fall 2014.

-- Repave from Highway 12 near Anheuser-Busch to east of Air Base Parkway in Fairfield. Cost: $26 million. Construction: spring 2009 to fall 2009.

-- Repave from Air Base Parkway in Fairfield to Leisure Town Road in Vacaville. Cost: $43 million. Construction: under way, finish fall 2009.

-- Renovate North Texas Street interchange in Fairfield. Cost: $16 million. Construction: Start this year, finish 2010.

-- Add traffic signals and turn lanes to Lagoon Valley overpass in Vacaville. Cost: $3 million. Construction: summer 2009 to spring 2010.

-- Lengthen the Alamo Drive on-ramp in Vacaville. Cost: $4.4 million. Construction: fall 2011 to fall 2012.

(Source: Caltrans)

Tour of I-80 corridor touts upgrades

Tour of I-80 corridor touts upgrades
By Robin Miller
Article Launched: 08/27/2008



Caltrans Director Will Kempton (center) speaks about the progress of the Pave-80 project Tuesday in Vacaville. (Rick Roach / The Reporter)

Transportation officials from across the region and the state were in Solano County on Tuesday to tout work being done to improve the Interstate 80 corridor from the Bay Area to the Nevada border.

Dubbed the "Bay to Border Tour," a bus carrying Caltrans Director Will Kempton and other dignitaries made stops in Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville to discuss work already completed and plans for future projects.

"Interstate 80 is the major east-west corridor in Northern California and we will be investing $1 billion in it," Kempton said. "Anyone who drives this corridor can tell you the condition it's in and the need for the work."

The funds for the work will come from voter-approved Proposition 1B bonds, Kempton said. Approved by voters in 2006, Prop. 1B provides for billions of dollars for transportation projects up and down the state. Some of the first of those funds are providing for dozens of projects in the Bay Area and Kempton said there will be even more coming in the future.

Paving projects are planned at sites throughout the corridor, he noted, including in Vacaville, where some of the paving work has already been completed. Kempton noted the improvement, explaining that at an earlier press stop in Fairfield, he had to yell to be heard over the noise of I-80 traffic there, where repaving hasn't yet been completed.

Lois Wolk, D-Solano, was also on hand, noting that I-80 is the most heavily traveled roadway in the region.

"I drive this road every day and I want to tell you it makes such a difference," she said of the paving work. Urging voters to be patient with construction, she added "in the end it will make an extraordinary difference in our lives."

Vacaville Vice Mayor Chuck Dimmick thanked the state leaders as well as local Solano Transportation Authority officials, saying "What you are doing is huge" and noting the work done on the Leisure Town overcrossing as an example.

"The landscaping isn't done yet, but I think it's one of the prettiest ones going," he said.

Earlier, the officials made stops in Vallejo and Fairfield to discuss work planned there including improvements to the Interstate 80/I-680 and Highway 12 interchange, pavement improvements in American Canyon and Green Valley, relocation of the truck scales in Cordelia, and improvements at the interchanges of I-80 and North Texas as well as I-80 and Lagoon Valley Road.

Wolk said she is hopeful that as work is completed and voters see the improvements, there will be even more support for future projects and funding.

"There is tremendous concern for transportation, it is the largest bond passed and it's the largest need," she noted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SOLANO COUNTY MARKET ANALYSIS: Warehouse, industrial bright spots for area linked to two big metro areas

NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL EVENT
Tuesday, August 26, 2008, 8-10:45 a.m.

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GUIDE
SOLANO COUNTY MARKET ANALYSIS: Warehouse, industrial bright spots for area linked to two big metro areas

Monday, August 25, 2008
BY JEFF QUACKENBUSH
STAFF REPORTER

Solano County
Population 426,757

Labor force, June 2008 214,200

Unemployment rate, June 2008 6.9%

Northern Solano County:

Average home sales price,

June 2008 $323,427

Median home sales price,

June 2008 $299,900

Southern Solano County:

Average home sales price,

June 2008 $303,238

Median home sales price,

June 2008 $284,900

Apartment vacancy rate,

spring 2008 4.9%

Industrial vacancy rate,

second quarter 2008 13.8%

Office vacancy rate,

second quarter 2008 27.4%

SOLANO COUNTY – Situated along the Interstate 80 corridor between the Sacramento and San Francisco metropolitan areas, Solano County provides affordable housing and space for distribution warehousing, manufacturing, processing and back-office functions for both regions.

In line with national trends, the market for office space in Solano has been soft, and owners have been adjusting rents accordingly. Yet demand for production and warehouse space has been growing, and rents have been largely holding firm.

The office vacancy rate in Solano was unchanged for the first half of 2008 at 27.4 percent of 2.69 million square feet available for lease, according to Colliers International. Average rent in June was $2.12 a square foot per month on a triple-net basis.

By comparison, the vacancy rate for the 3.21 billion square feet in all suburban markets in the U.S. was 14.2 percent, according to the brokerage.

Vacaville and Fairfield account for 2.18 million square feet of the county’s commercial office space and had the highest availability rates of 32.4 percent and 29.3 percent, respectively, in mid-2008.

Solano is a suburban office market that is challenged to have the draw of central business districts for corporations, according to Eric Dakin, research director for Colliers International’s Fairfield office.

“In a suburban market, you have a pepperoni pizza effect with clusters of activity spread out around the county, such as Green Valley and West Texas Road,” Mr. Dakin said.

Suisun City, in the heart of the county, is an up-and-coming commercial real estate market, which had a mid-year office vacancy rate of 21.7 percent based on 153,000 square feet, according to Colliers. Locally based Main Street Partners is remaking the waterfront on the Sacramento River delta into a mixed-use development anchored by a 34,000-square-foot Harbor Square office and retail building.

That adds to class A office buildings built by The Wiseman Co. The 72,000-square-foot 333 Sunset Ave. building was finished in 1994 and the 50,000-square-foot One Harbor Center building in 2001.

Petaluma-based Basin Street Hospitality, led on the project by former Basin Street vice president and Main Street partner Frank Marinello, just started construction on a 102-room Hampton Inn & Suites hotel.

Also in the works for Suisun is a 175,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter to anchor the 20-acre Walters Road West retail development.

Another retail development in progress is the 153,000-square-foot shopping center approved in early 2008 for 14 acres in Dixon.

In Vallejo, among the 7 million square feet of existing and planned commercial space on Mare Island, Touro University recently got a green light from the city for its $300 million cancer research and treatment center project.

The Solano unemployment rate in mid-2008 was estimated to be 6.9 percent of 214,200 in the work force, according to the state Employment Development Department. That’s just below the state figure for June of 7.0 percent but above the national rate of 5.7 percent.

Solano’s jobless rate in June 2007 was 5.3 percent. The work force expanded by 1.3 percent over the 12-month period, but changes in employment levels in key industries for Solano reflect some of the economic pressures facing other counties as well. With the housing slowdown, construction employment dropped by 2,000 to 9,400 in June from a year before. Manufacturing lost 600 positions in that time, and the financial and professional services each shed 400 jobs.

The Solano Economic Development Corp. recently received funding from the county for a three-year project to study five industry clusters, update the Solano County Index of Economic and Community Progress and tally the amount of commercial and industrial land suitable for development.

While there have been job losses in manufacturing, the Solano industrial market has been very active, including new and planned development by large county producers.

Though the slowing economy and worries about the economy have pressured companies to start trimming their facility portfolio, 585,300 more square feet of Solano industrial space was leased than came on the market in the first half of 2008, with 373,100 square feet of net absorption in the second quarter alone, according to Colliers.

“Compared to previous years, that’s a bit shy of the leasing in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” Mr. Dakin said.

Key recent warehouse deals include 74,000 square feet in two deals by Freight Transport at 801 Chadbourne in Fairfield, a 192,000-square-foot building that was purchased recently as an investment by Pamco, and a 111,000-square-foot lease by Total Warehousing Inc. at 400 Crocker Drive in Vacaville.

The mid-year industrial vacancy rate was 13.8 percent for Solano’s 22.7 million square feet of available space, according to Colliers. The percentage of available space increased from 12.5 percent in the first quarter of 2008, largely because of 220,000-square-foot former West Coast Beauty Supply warehouse in Benicia came on the market along with the completion of a 57,300-square-foot warehouse in Fairfield.

Solano’s manufacturers and producers have been active. Campbell’s Soup Co. in mid-2008 announced plans to spend $23 million expanding its Dixon tomato processing plant and extended an offer to California growers to supply vegetables. Jelly Belly in Fairfield is looking into expanding its use of local fruit juice for its jelly beans and candy.

Also, Ghiringhelli Specialty Foods, co-founded by Fairfax pizza proprietor Mike Ghiringhelli, is planning a move from San Pablo to 40,000 square feet of renovated warehouses in Vallejo, which will create 120 jobs.

SOLANO COUNTY MARKET ANALYSIS

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GUIDE: SOLANO COUNTY MARKET ANALYSIS: Warehouse, industrial bright spots for area linked to two big metro areas
by Jeff Quackenbush
Staff Reporter
Aug 25, 2008
North Bay Business Journal

SOLANO COUNTY – Situated along the Interstate 80 corridor between the Sacramento and San Francisco metropolitan areas, Solano County provides affordable housing and space for distribution warehousing, manufacturing, processing and back-office functions for both regions.

In line with national trends, the market for office space in Solano has been soft, and owners have been adjusting rents accordingly. Yet demand for production and warehouse space has been growing, and rents have been largely holding firm.

The office vacancy rate in Solano was unchanged for the first half of 2008 at 27.4 percent of 2.69 million square feet available for lease, according to Colliers International. Average rent in June was $2.12 a square foot per month on a triple-net basis.

By comparison, the vacancy rate for the 3.21 billion square feet in all suburban markets in the U.S. was 14.2 percent, according to the brokerage.

Vacaville and Fairfield account for 2.18 million square feet of the county’s commercial office space and had the highest availability rates of 32.4 percent and 29.3 percent, respectively, in mid-2008.

Solano is a suburban office market that is challenged to have the draw of central business districts for corporations, according to Eric Dakin, research director for Colliers International’s Fairfield office.

“In a suburban market, you have a pepperoni pizza effect with clusters of activity spread out around the county, such as Green Valley and West Texas Road,” Mr. Dakin said.

Suisun City, in the heart of the county, is an up-and-coming commercial real estate market, which had a mid-year office vacancy rate of 21.7 percent based on 153,000 square feet, according to Colliers. Locally based Main Street Partners is remaking the waterfront on the Sacramento River delta into a mixed-use development anchored by a 34,000-square-foot Harbor Square office and retail building.

That adds to class A office buildings built by The Wiseman Co. The 72,000-square-foot 333 Sunset Ave. building was finished in 1994 and the 50,000-square-foot One Harbor Center building in 2001.

Petaluma-based Basin Street Hospitality, led on the project by former Basin Street vice president and Main Street partner Frank Marinello, just started construction on a 102-room Hampton Inn & Suites hotel.

Also in the works for Suisun is a 175,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter to anchor the 20-acre Walters Road West retail development.

Another retail development in progress is the 153,000-square-foot shopping center approved in early 2008 for 14 acres in Dixon.

In Vallejo, among the 7 million square feet of existing and planned commercial space on Mare Island, Touro University recently got a green light from the city for its $300 million cancer research and treatment center project.

The Solano unemployment rate in mid-2008 was estimated to be 6.9 percent of 214,200 in the work force, according to the state Employment Development Department. That’s just below the state figure for June of 7.0 percent but above the national rate of 5.7 percent.

Solano’s jobless rate in June 2007 was 5.3 percent. The work force expanded by 1.3 percent over the 12-month period, but changes in employment levels in key industries for Solano reflect some of the economic pressures facing other counties as well. With the housing slowdown, construction employment dropped by 2,000 to 9,400 in June from a year before. Manufacturing lost 600 positions in that time, and the financial and professional services each shed 400 jobs.

The Solano Economic Development Corp. recently received funding from the county for a three-year project to study five industry clusters, update the Solano County Index of Economic and Community Progress and tally the amount of commercial and industrial land suitable for development.

While there have been job losses in manufacturing, the Solano industrial market has been very active, including new and planned development by large county producers.

Though the slowing economy and worries about the economy have pressured companies to start trimming their facility portfolio, 585,300 more square feet of Solano industrial space was leased than came on the market in the first half of 2008, with 373,100 square feet of net absorption in the second quarter alone, according to Colliers.

“Compared to previous years, that’s a bit shy of the leasing in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” Mr. Dakin said.

Key recent warehouse deals include 74,000 square feet in two deals by Freight Transport at 801 Chadbourne in Fairfield, a 192,000-square-foot building that was purchased recently as an investment by Pamco, and a 111,000-square-foot lease by Total Warehousing Inc. at 400 Crocker Drive in Vacaville.

The mid-year industrial vacancy rate was 13.8 percent for Solano’s 22.7 million square feet of available space, according to Colliers. The percentage of available space increased from 12.5 percent in the first quarter of 2008, largely because of 220,000-square-foot former West Coast Beauty Supply warehouse in Benicia came on the market along with the completion of a 57,300-square-foot warehouse in Fairfield.

Solano’s manufacturers and producers have been active. Campbell’s Soup Co. in mid-2008 announced plans to spend $23 million expanding its Dixon tomato processing plant and extended an offer to California growers to supply vegetables. Jelly Belly in Fairfield is looking into expanding its use of local fruit juice for its jelly beans and candy.

Also, Ghiringhelli Specialty Foods, co-founded by Fairfax pizza proprietor Mike Ghiringhelli, is planning a move from San Pablo to 40,000 square feet of renovated warehouses in Vallejo, which will create 120 jobs.

Solano County
Population 426,757
Labor force, June 2008 214,200
Unemployment rate, June 2008 6.9%
Northern Solano County:
Average home sales price,
June 2008 $323,427
Median home sales price,
June 2008 $299,900
Southern Solano County:
Average home sales price,
June 2008 $303,238
Median home sales price,
June 2008 $284,900
Apartment vacancy rate,
spring 2008 4.9%
Industrial vacancy rate,
second quarter 2008 13.8%
Office vacancy rate,
second quarter 2008 27.4%
Sources: California Department of Finance, EDD, BAREIS MLS, NAI BT Commercial

Monday, August 25, 2008

Future is focus

Future is focus
Article Launched: 08/24/2008

Four of Solano's top industry experts will forecast Solano County's real estate future on Sept. 17 in Fairfield.

Michael Ammann, president of Solano Economic Development Corporation said the event " will provide an excellent opportunity for both government and private sector to learn more about the current commercial and industrial real estate market and what can be expected in the months ahead.

The four participants and the areas of development they will address are: Business/Industrial Parks, Brooks Pedder, Colliers International; Global Real Estate Trends, Jose McNeill, Headwaters Development; Retail, Jim Shepherd, Cornish & Carey; Developer/Contractor Perspective, Jeff Thomas, Hearn Construction.

The event will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield. Registration begins at 7:30. Cost is $25 for Solano EDC members and $35 for non-members. To register call 864-1855.

Street Date: Georgia Street, Vallejo

Street Date: Georgia Street, Vallejo
Stephanie Wright Hession
Thursday, August 21, 2008



The Alibi Clock was originally on San Francisco's Market Street. (Katy Raddatz / The Chronicle)

A breeze wafts across Mare Island Strait down Vallejo's Georgia Street, a tree-lined avenue with restored 19th and 20th century structures, including a stately, columned building with a stone facade and one painted in white and trimmed in nautical blue. The latter reflects the Navy's long connection to this waterfront city, with the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Situated in Old Town, Georgia Street contains a mix of attractive, established businesses next to empty storefronts. Whether the potential of this tucked-away treasure becomes fully realized remains to be seen. In the meantime, hop on a ferry and while away an afternoon at an array of spots.

1. Pacific Rim Gallery

301 Georgia St. (inside Georgia Street Plaza): This gallery specializes in pieces from the Pacific Rim: Beautifully detailed wood carvings from New Guinea, including handwoven baskets, a rare two-handled mud drum and full-size doors from the island of Timor. Textiles from the Indonesian island of Sumba include vibrant, three-paneled Ikats featuring animals made using hundreds of shells. Paintings include works by Robert Lyn Nelson and Curtis Wilson Cost. Gallery owner Gary Helm's extensive knowledge of and passion for what he exhibits makes for an educational and enriching visit. Open weekends by appointment. (707) 647-3314. www.thepacificrimgallery.com.

2. Georgia Street Grill

314 Georgia St.: This homey grill serves up traditional American fare for breakfast and lunch, along with locally themed specialties such as Debbie's Delight, a charbroiled pork chop accompanied by two eggs, and the Mare Island Sub, made with sliced grilled chicken, tri-colored peppers, sauteed onions and topped with Swiss cheese. Check out the local, historical, black-and-white photographs embedded in the tables and on the walls. (707) 557-4745. www.georgiastreetgrill.com.

3. Pieced on Earth

340 Georgia St.: The beautiful handmade textiles at this shop range from batik prints on mud cloth created by the Masai people of Kenya to custom designs such as quilts, pillows and wall hangings. (707) 644-6768.

4. Indian Alley Antiques

412 Georgia St.: From its exterior, this shop looks tiny. But step inside and you'll find a spacious, oblong building packed with a cornucopia of reasonably priced, vintage and antique items such as dainty tea cups, furniture, fur wraps, dolls and jewelry. Take the time to chat with owner Fred Menard. (707) 644-6703.

5. Regal Ballroom

406 Georgia St.: Maybe you're a devotee of "Dancing With the Stars" and secretly aspire to take a whirl on the dance floor. This dance apparel shop offers plenty of glitzy ensembles to get you going, from practical dance shoes to sparkly, swishy skirts to grand flamenco dresses. It also offers lessons, so get your salsa on. (707) 552-7177.

6. The Alibi Clock

316 Georgia St.: Stop to read about the compelling history of this clock. Made by E. Howard of Boston in 1914 and originally in front of Burnett Brothers Jewelry on San Francisco's Market Street, it became famous following the explosion of a suitcase bomb that killed 10 people and wounded more than 40 others during a 1916 parade celebrating San Francisco Preparedness Day, which marked the United States' impending entry into World War I.

See the complete story at SFGate.com.

CMA one of best colleges in West

CMA one of best colleges in West
U.S. News and World Report ranks academy in top 5 baccalaureate schools
By TONY BURCHYNS/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 08/23/2008

U.S. News and World Report once again has listed California Maritime Academy on its "America's Best Colleges" rankings, university officials said Friday.

The college ranked fifth among 17 baccalaureate schools in the western United States, second only to the U.S. Air Force Academy among public schools in its category, according to the publication's Web site. The category includes undergraduate colleges in the West that grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.

"The latest ... survey is valuable as an ongoing independent confirmation that are on the right course," said Cal Maritime President William B. Eisenhardt in a press release. "It is heartening to know that the quality of this institution and its programs is widely noticed and recognized."

The annual college rankings, released Friday, are based on responses from faculty members and deans at more than 1,400 colleges, according to U.S. News and World Report's Web site.

With 850 students, Cal Maritime, located at the foot of the Carquinez Bridge in Vallejo, has undergone major enrollment growth since joining the California State University system a decade ago. The student body has jumped by 80 percent in the last eight years.

The school has also made strides in its academic programs, opening a new technology center, a laboratory and a classroom building. New dorms are currently under construction and school officials are also in the early stages of planning new athletic facilities.

One of seven degree-granting maritime academies in the country, Cal Maritime is the only such school on the West Coast.

"We've worked hard to make ourselves more visible," Eisenhardt said, adding that the admissions staff works year-round to recruit students in the west.

Other outreach efforts include a summer program for high school students from urban school districts.

Cal Maritime offers degrees in business administration, facilities engineering technology, global studies and maritime affairs, marine engineering technology and other maritime fields.

The school ranked sixth last year in U.S. News and World Report's college rankings, Cal Maritime spokesman Doug Webster said.

Additionally, the school's engineering program has also scored well in previous polls, Webster said.

• E-mail Tony Burchyns at tburchyns@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6831.

Enrollment at SCC up 9.1 percent

Enrollment at SCC up 9.1 percent
Officials say slumping economy contributing to jump in sign-ups
By TONY BURCHYNS/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 08/24/2008

FAIRFIELD - The poor economy is contributing to a steep enrollment jump at Solano Community College, school officials said Friday.

Fall classes began last Monday, and there are nearly 1,000 more students enrolled than last year, school spokesman Ross Beck said.

The 9.1 percent enrollment increase may be due to the poor job market, Beck said. Across the state community colleges and four-year universities are reporting similar trends, he said.

"We offer a lot of job training classes, and a lot of people are looking to upgrade their skills right now," Beck said. "We're also offering more online services."

In addition to economic factors, new facilities such as the Vallejo Center on Columbus Parkway are pushing enrollment up, school officials said.

But when jobs dry up, classes fill up faster, said Jerry Kea, director of the Vallejo Center.

"It's hard to say why, but generally speaking whenever times are difficult and unemployment goes up, people go back to school," Kea said. "They want to be retooled ... they want to gather new skills."

It may be harder to find a parking spot, but 22-year-old student J.R. Estares said he welcomes more hustle and bustle on the Fairfield campus.

"It feels like a nice environment when there's more students here," said Estares, a business and marketing student. "It's easier to do homework, to ask other people for help ... and you meet more friends."

Estares, who works in the Student Development Office, said student clubs are taking advantage of the situation by recruiting more members.

Professor Jim DeKloe, who heads the school's growing biotech program, said the highly specialized courses are twice as full as they were last year.

"And we could get more," DeKloe said. "In a poor economy, people change careers and go back to school. It's a good idea. If someone works in retail, they should probably think about changing jobs."

Solano Community College President Gerry Fisher attributed the growth to a number of factors, not the least which would be the slow economy.

"Students probably aren't finding jobs as easily as they may have been in the past," Fisher said. "They usually use this time to come back to school when jobs are hard to come by."

Fisher also said the rising cost of gas and the addition of the Vallejo Center have led to the increased student growth. He also noted growth across the spectrum at community colleges and four-year universities.

"It's a good thing for us and I hope the state can help to fund some that growth," Fisher said.

Michael Amman, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, said more students could be picking community colleges over four-year schools because they are less expensive.

"Obviously unemployment has gone up," Amman said. "And much of that is because of the decline of the housing market and the loss of construction jobs. But whether it is unemployment, or the need (for people with jobs) to increase their skill levels ... all those are good reasons to access community college."

Work begins to expand national cemetery

Work begins to expand national cemetery
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | August 22, 2008 15:20



Construction crews work on expanding the Sacramento Valley VA National Cemetery on Midway Road Friday morning. Photo by Brad Zweerink

DIXON - Work has begun at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery to ensure there will be enough final resting places for area veterans for the next 10 years.

In June, the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded an $18 million contract to Sacramento firms Clark & Sullivan and Boward Brothers to build the cemetery's first phase of expansion.

This comes 20 months after the VA fast-tracked development of 14 acres and accepted its first burial in October 2006. The first burial service was for World War II veteran Alvin Hayman, a former Marine who sold the land to the VA.

The VA hopes to see the first phase completed in fall 2011, according to cemetery director Dean Moline.

This expansion covers 60 acres and includes the installation of 6,900 pre-placed crypts, about 4,900 grave sites, 8,000 columbaria sites and 5,200 in-ground cremain sites.

The cemetery's maintenance crews and administrators will finally get to move out of their trailers and into a permanent administration building, public information center and maintenance complex.

Two committal service shelters will also be built. Extensive landscaping, irrigation and permanent roads will be installed as well

'The beauty of the cemetery will be there for the families,' Moline said of the oncoming changes. 'This is to create that national shrine that our public deserves.'

The community's support of the growing cemetery has been 'very fulfilling,' said Moline, who was literally the cemetery's first employee three years ago.

'This community and these families have been so understanding of what we are doing,' Moline said.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Solano EDC hosting breakfast Sept. 17

Solano EDC hosting breakfast Sept. 17
Article Launched: 08/25/2008

The Solano EDC Breakfast will be held on Sept.17 starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield.

Registration and networking will be from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and the program will run from 8 to 9 a.m.

The cost is $25 for Solano EDC members and $35 for non-members.

A panel of industry experts will discuss Solano's position and future forecasts.

To register, call 864-1855 or e-mail pat@solanoedc.org.

Company energizes plan for Vacaville power plant

Company energizes plan for Vacaville power plant
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | August 21, 2008

VACAVILLE - The Maryland-based power company that wants to build a 660-megawatt power plant near Elmira is about to make its pitch to the California Energy Commission.

If Competitive Power Ventures obtains approvals from the state and a contract with PG&E, construction could begin as early as late 2009 and the plant would be operational in 2013.

Andrew Welch, the company's vice president, said the plant can deliver the power that PG&E needs.

'There is a continued need based on growth,' Welch said. 'California also has a lot of older power plants with technology that is not longer as efficient or clean that, at some point, need to be retired.'

Confident that the proposed plant is what the area needs, Welch said Competitive Power Ventures plans to start building the plant even if it doesn't have a contract with PG&E.

'It is a healthy market with a half-dozen entities doing projects,' Welch said. 'We are not the only players, but we think we are the best.'

In July, the Vacaville City Council approved leasing 25 acres near the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant to Competitive Power Ventures.

The plan is to build a natural gas-powered electrical plant similar to, but larger than, four power plants in Fairfield and Suisun City. These plants are called peaker plants because they only operate only during periods of high electrical demand.

Vacaville could get as much as $1.7 million a year from lease payments, property taxes and selling treated wastewater to the plant, Vacaville Finance Director Ken Campo. The wastewater will be used to cool generators at the plant.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Friday, August 22, 2008

PRIVATE SUPPORT FOR UC DAVIS TOPS $216 MILLION

University of California, Davis
August 21, 2008

PRIVATE SUPPORT FOR UC DAVIS TOPS $216 MILLION

More than 44,000 donors supported UC Davis with nearly $216.8 million in gifts, pledges and private grants last fiscal year, marking the sixth consecutive year that philanthropic support has grown and the first time that UC Davis has surpassed $200 million.

Almost half of the total -- $100 million -- came from a single philanthropic grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, directed to found a new nursing school in Sacramento. The foundation's philanthropic grant is the largest in the nation in support of nursing education.

In all, the nearly $216.8 million in support in 2007-08 represents a
114 percent jump compared with the previous fiscal year, when private support totaled more than $101 million. Even without the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grant, giving increased 12 percent, year to year.

Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef expressed thanks for the generosity and pointed out how important philanthropic support is to UC Davis as the university enters its centennial year.

"We are grateful to each and every one of our donors who helps and believes in our mission at UC Davis," Vanderhoef said. "Their support and commitment provide new and better opportunities for our students and faculty as we look to address society's challenges of the next 100 years."

Vanderhoef noted that UC Davis has benefited from philanthropy since its founding, when members of the local chamber of commerce raised money to donate water rights for the proposed campus site. Many believe that gift made the difference in locating the university in what was then known as the town of Davisville.

"Even our early advocates understood that philanthropic support could provide an extra margin that can make all the difference," Vanderhoef said. "Philanthropy continues to be so very important to UC Davis.
This year, the university has benefited in many ways, from unrestricted annual gifts that provide funding where it is always needed, to the magnificent grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to found a nursing school that is critically important to California and the nation."

Donors in 2007-08 included alumni, parents, faculty and friends, as well as corporations, foundations, and other organizations, according to Cheryl Brown Lohse, associate vice chancellor for University Development. In addition, UC Davis students made contributions, through a senior class gift effort.

Gifts and philanthropic grants provided a wide range of support for students, faculty and programs.

Consider the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's grant to establish the proposed Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. The grant was inspired by UC Davis and the foundation's shared vision: highly skilled and well-prepared nurses will lead our national health-care system in assuring patient safety, improving quality of care and health outcomes, guiding policy decisions and discovering knowledge to advance health.

In addition to that foundation's philanthropic grant, 18 donors made gifts of $1 million or more, including:

* $10 million of an expected $12.5 million gift from the Louise Rossi Estate, benefitting the Department of Viticulture and Enology. The gift will support high priority research in many ways, including the purchase of equipment for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the future establishment of endowed chairs to support faculty positions in winemaking and grape growing. This gift will also augment the previously established Rossi Prize endowment, which supports viticulture and enology students.

* $10 million from alumnus Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. and his wife, Marcia, toward the construction of the new three-story, 40,000-square-foot home for the Graduate School of Management. In addition, it established an endowment to provide for faculty and student support, and program expansion and development. This is the largest gift UC Davis has ever received from an alumnus.

* $1 million from the Bernard Osher Foundation to endow the Osher Reentry Scholarship Program. Last year, the Osher Foundation gave the campus $1 million to endow the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UC Davis.

Each of UC Davis' four colleges and five professional schools received private support. The Health System, which includes the proposed Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing as well as the School of Medicine, recorded the highest amount at $120.3 million. It was followed by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, at $29.2 million, and the Graduate School of Management, at $12.1 million.

Of the philanthropic total, 26 percent was directed toward research, while department/faculty support and student support received a combined 58 percent. Campus improvement and other program support received the remaining 16 percent.

Of the nearly $216.8 million, donors committed a total of $31 million to invested funds -- or endowments -- to provide ongoing support for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, research and other university programs. Donors directed $23.1 million to endowment support through the UC Davis Foundation. The foundation, established in 1959, receives private gifts to benefit UC Davis, invests its endowed gift funds and other private assets, and advises university leaders in areas related to public trust and support. UC Davis alumna Pam Fair '80 currently chairs the foundation board of trustees, which also includes 40 other volunteer leaders.

More than 16,000 donors supported the Annual Fund in 2007-08, giving nearly $1.8 million. The chancellor allocates Annual Fund gifts to areas of greatest need, including student and faculty support.

UC Davis receives about 21 percent of its total budget from the state, and receives additional support from a variety of funding sources, including donors. UC Davis has crossed the $100 million threshold twice before, in the 2001-02 fiscal year, when the university raised $110 million, including a gift of $35 million from Robert and Margrit Mondavi, and last year, with $101 million.

"We are very grateful to all of our donors who have been so generous to UC Davis this year," said Beverly Sandeen, vice chancellor for University Relations, which includes University Development. "We are honored and inspired by these donors, who have seen what UC Davis can accomplish through philanthropic support."

Media contact(s):
* Tom Hinds, University Communications, (530) 752-8694, thinds@ucdavis.edu
* Mitchel Benson, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9844, mdbenson@ucdavis.edu


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FedEx Ground moves to larger space in Fairfield

East Bay Business Times - August 25, 2008
http://eastbay.bizjournals.com/eastbay/stories/2008/08/25/story2.html

Friday, August 22, 2008
FedEx Ground moves to larger space in Fairfield

East Bay Business Times - by Jessica Saunders Staff reporter

FedEx Ground Package Systems Inc. signed a 10-year lease for one of Solano County’s largest industrial properties, a Fairfield warehouse built by Panattoni Development Co. that is triple its current space in Benicia.

The small-package shipping service, acquired by FedEx Inc. in 1998, is undergoing a national expansion, anticipating its daily volume will grow from 3.8 million packages to 6.1 million by 2014, said David Westrick, a member of FedEx Ground’s corporate communications team.

FedEx Ground’s new site at 5191 Fermi Drive has 330,750 square feet of high-ceiling warehouse space, eclipsing the 108,000 square feet at its current site in Benicia, where it has been since May 1990, Westrick said. FedEx Ground expects to move into the Fairfield site in spring 2009.

The lease for the new building includes two renewal options, said Matt Bracco, senior director at Cushman & Wakefield of California Inc., who with colleagues Chris Neeb and Glen Dowling represented landlord Panattoni. FedEx Ground was represented by Jeff Kernochan, executive vice president with Fischer & Co.

The rate was not disclosed. Similar high-ceiling distribution space in Solano County was going for 45 cents to 50 cents per square foot, per month triple-net, which means the tenant pays taxes, maintenance and insurance, according to Cushman & Wakefield market research. That would make the initial lease term worth about $17.8 million, without customary annual increases.

FedEx Ground delivers packages of 150 pounds or less by truck using a network of more than 500 distribution hubs and local pickup-and-delivery terminals throughout the United States and Canada. The company’s shipping volume has grown by 10 percent or more nearly every year since it was founded as Roadway Package System in 1985, Westrick said. The shipper was rebranded as FedEx Ground in 2000.

The Fairfield lease, along with a March lease of 326,000 square feet in Newark, are part of a nationwide expansion that includes 200 projects, Westrick said. “It’s all about being able to deliver more packages throughout our network.”

The 18-acre Fairfield facility will serve Solano, Napa and Marin counties, and West and Central Contra Costa County, Westrick said. The Newark facility does not have defined coverage areas yet; for the present it is intended to relieve the South San Francisco facility, he said.

The company plans major tenant improvements, including adding 6,000 square feet of office space and more dock doors, Bracco said.

The building and a 607,208-square-foot warehouse at 5195 Fermi Drive both were occupied by Saint-Gobain Containers, which makes glass containers for wineries and other food and beverage companies, until about 18 months ago. Saint-Gobain moved to a 1.2-million-square-foot building it built at 2600 Stanford Court in Fairfield, and Owens-Brockway Glass Container Inc. moved into the 607,208-square-foot Panattoni building in February 2007.

The warehouses, among the largest in Solano County, are located in the Fairfield Business Park at the interchange of Interstates 80 and 680, Bracco said. In addition, they offer 30-feet ceiling clearances, cross-loaded staging, early-suppression, fast-response fire suppression systems and truck parking. The buildings were constructed in 1997-98.



jsaunders@bizjournals.com | 925-598-1427



All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Solano's best now on display

Solano's best now on display
By Robin Miller
Article Launched: 08/19/2008

Solano County has plenty to crow about these days.

First came the news that the county's display at the California State Fair once again took the "Best of Show" award in the annual county exhibits competition. This marks the fourth year in a row and the fifth time in the past six years that Solano County has taken the top honors.

As in year's past, the design is the result of a collaboration between exhibit coordinator Bob Meador, Supervisor John Vasquez, designer Paul Curtis and electronics expert Cliff Covey.

Built by General Services staffers, the display is truly a countywide effort.

And this year's creation hit new heights, featuring a giant animatronic yellow chicken that actually clucks and talks to welcome visitors to the display.

Above the chicken hangs a spinning, smiling sun and dancing sunflowers. Visitors are treated to a host of displays on agriculture and a garden setting complete with birdhouses made from miniature models of Solano's previous winning county exhibits.

The theme of this year's State Fair is "Going Hollywood," so the display also includes a section highlighting the films that have been shot (at least partially) in Solano County during the past 100 years.

Hats off to the display and those dedicated few who make sure Solano County is represented in style each year.

But the kudos for the county can't end there.

Looking for some information on the upcoming election, I logged onto www.solanocounty.com Monday morning and was pleasantly surprised by what I found there.

The county has redesigned its Web site and the fact is, it's much easier to look at and use. There are still the quick links to services and departments, but the site also offers a "how to" link on county services and quick links to meeting agendas and more.

In addition, the county's new 311 telephone service offers a new way for residents to get information and to connect with county services and programs.

These improvements and additions can only help in the effort to open government access.

And that really is something to crow about.

• The author is city editor of The Reporter and can be reached at citydesk@thereporter.com.

Solano EDC to host breakfast

Solano EDC to host breakfast
Article Launched: 08/20/2008

The Solano EDC Breakfast will be held at 8 a.m. Sept. 17 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield. Registration and networking begins at 7:30 a.m. and the program will run from 8 to 9 a.m.

The cost is $25 for Solano EDC members and $35 for non-members. A panel of industry experts will discuss Solano's position and future forecasts.

To register, call 864-1855 or e-mail pat@solanoedc.org.

County's informational hotline Solano311 debuts Sept. 2

County's informational hotline Solano311 debuts Sept. 2
By Danny Bernardini
Article Launched: 08/20/2008

Nearly nine months after county supervisors voted to create an all-in-one information hotline, Solano311 is set to go live in September.

Starting Sept. 2, Solano County will have a new way for residents to get information about county services and programs.

By dialing 311 while in Solano County, residents will be connected to a Solano311 customer service representative who can answer questions about county programs and services.

The Solano311 Customer Service Center in Fairfield is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. There are no usage fees for people to call Solano311, and it is accessible from most land lines and cellular phones.

"Without a doubt, I think Solano311 is the single most important advancement we can make in customer service," said County Administrator Michael D. Johnson in a press release.

For most of 2008, the contractor providing the 311 service, has been working with people throughout the county to build a database of questions and answers.

"Solano County offers hundreds of different programs and services, so it's easy to understand why it can be a challenge to figure out where to get the answers you need on the first phone call," said Ira Rosenthal, director of the Department of Information Technology. "Calling 311 takes the guess work out of knowing who to call."

In many instances, the Solano311 customer service representatives will also be the first link to service delivery. If a caller needs the expertise of a county staff member, the Solano311 representative will connect the caller with the right person.

The Solano311 representatives will also follow up with the caller to see if they got the service they needed in a timely manner, said Steve Pierce, public information officer.

Residents can also access 311 resources through the county Web site at www.solanocounty.com.

New school a testament to high-tech

New school a testament to high-tech
Christian High preps for opening
By Ryan Chalk
Article Launched: 08/20/2008



Crews put the finishing touches on the parking lot outside the new Vacaville Christian High School facility. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

Vacaville Christian High School administrators and staff have always taken pride in the quality of education they provide for their students, but starting this school year, they can finally say they have a facility to match.

Anyone driving down Marshall Road these days will notice that where there was once an aging mobile home park, now stands a new, state-of-the-art high school and football stadium.

But it is what you don't see on the outside that is most impressive. The roughly 40,000-square-foot, two-story building will accommodate 500 high school students and is outfitted with the latest in technology.



Vacaville Christian High School's new campus features an up- to-date computer lab, as well as science labs. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

"This building lacks for nothing in terms of technology," said Chief Education Officer Paul Harrell. "It's all here. It's not going to hold anyone back."

Not only are classrooms outfitted with computers, but at VCS, gone are the days of writing on chalkboards or dry erase boards. Now teachers have SMART Boards, a touch-sensitive whiteboard that allows you to control computer applications directly from the display. Also included in the building are updated science and computer labs.

"For the first time, our facilities match the quality and caliber of our students and faculty," said Harrell. "When you match the three legs of that stool, facilities, students and faculty, there's no limit to where you can go."

If you don't get the impression that Harrell is bursting with excitement over the new digs, walk upstairs to Donna-Marie MacWay's math classroom which offers a picturesque view of the new stadium.

"I can't tell you how much I believe that I have the best room," said MacWay as she joked that she'll be selling tickets to watch the football games from her classroom. "There is not a word in the English language to express this joy."



Soccer practice takes place Monday at Vacaville Christian High School's new stadium, which features artificial turf. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

Just as impressive as the new building for the high school is the new stadium, featuring Field Turf, an all-weather artificial surface used not just for the football field, but baseball and soccer as well. And gone are the dark days of the noisy gas-generated stadium lights. The new stadium offers up brighter, permanent lighting to go with increased capacity stands, which will be in high demand as VCS defends its Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII football title.

"Some people think that Christian education means second class, second rate," said Harrell. "But when 98 to 100 percent of your graduating seniors go on to college, this fits."

What has many faculty members and staff at VCS surprised is the blazing speed at which the school was built. It was an outpouring of support for a $16 million bond which paid for the new school and stadium to be constructed in a year's time.

And there is still room to grow. A new gymnasium and more classrooms will be added in the future, according to Harrell, although no time frame has been given.

Among other changes at VCS, Chris Smith, who fills the role of athletic director and head football coach, is stepping in as principal after serving as the assistant principal. He can sum up the new challenge in one word - hectic.

"It has been hectic," said Smith. "But we have such a great support staff and faulty here so they're making the transition pretty smooth."

And if anyone knows the inadequacies of the former stadium it is Smith, who despite breathing the fumes from the gas-fueled lights nearly every Friday night during football season, still coached his team to a section title.

"It's night and day," said Smith about the new facility. "This is truly a tremendous blessing for our students and fans to have such a great surface to play on."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

County unveils 'smarter' Web site

County unveils 'smarter' Web site
By Danny Bernardini
Article Launched: 08/19/2008

Visitors of Solano County's Web site will soon be treated to a more visually stimulating and search-friendly page than in the past.

County staff is still fixing some of the bugs to the site launched Monday, but it will be fully functioning in the next week or so, said Steve Pierce, Solano County public information officer.

"It's now at a point where we can evolve forward," Pierce said. "There are 19,000 pages that had to be transferred. There will be a few kinks. It's a smart system that's going to get smarter."

The Solano County Board of Supervisors gave the go-ahead for the site upgrade about six months ago, and got a preview of the upgrade at the Aug. 12 meeting. The previous site was predominately text, with the only graphics being the county logo, pictures of the five supervisors and a picture of the government center in Fairfield.

The new site features several photos, feature articles, a variety of graphics and an improved search feature aimed at quickly answering basic questions from the public.

Ira Rosenthal, chief informational officer, said the old county Web site held a ton of information, but the average Web surfer couldn't find it. He also told the board the page had looked the same for about the last eight years.

"If you search for 'marriage,' you are going to get a whole lot of irrelevant information. All you want to do is find out how to find a marriage license. Good luck to you," Rosenthal told the board.

"If you don't have clues or bread crumbs, you are never going to find it."

He also said the new site would feature a new engine that will allow individual departments to continually update their sections, which will help eliminate the "stagnant" content previously found in some areas.

"What's not necessarily apparent is how difficult to maintain and update the old site was," Rosenthal said. "The new management system is key to keeping it fresh and up to date."

Suburban business parks evolve to meet East Bay's changing needs

Suburban business parks evolve to meet East Bay's changing needs
East Bay Business Times - by Jessica Saunders Staff reporter
Friday, August 15, 2008



Stephanie Secrest | East Bay Business Times
Joe Garaventa of Garaventa Properties, which is working on a 450,000-square-foot retail center at Fairfield Corporate Commons.

Business parks that started out as job centers for far-flung East Bay populations are adapting to a more crowded suburban environment by increasing retail and dining options, going vertical and even adding housing.

The greater mix of uses at business parks ensures employees can live, eat and shop closer to work, a key asset in an era of uncertain fuel prices. Mixed-use is increasingly demanded by municipal planners seeking to minimize traffic congestion, one developer said.

Here in the East Bay, both 585-acre Bishop Ranch in San Ramon and 876-acre Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton, two of the region’s largest business parks, show signs of the trend toward denser development.

Sunset Development Co. is planning to break ground on 2 million square feet of housing, hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail and new offices and government buildings adjacent to Bishop Ranch in a joint project with the city of San Ramon known as City Center and envisioned as the city’s new downtown.

At Hacienda Business Park, owners of the CarrAmerica Corporate Center announced plans to add 495,000 square feet of office space across three buildings, a 130-room hotel and three parking structures on its 60-acre site, which they say is underutilized.

Mixed-use trends are also showing up in business park proposals these days, including the Seeno family’s long-planned Benicia Business Park in Solano County. Discovery Builders Inc. of Concord is seeking to build a mix of retail, commercial and limited industrial uses on a 527-acre parcel overlooking Suisun Bay. Benicia residents have expressed concern at public hearings that the project will contribute to congestion, and final approval has been put on hold until the fall pending a new traffic study.

The outer East Bay benefitted from having enough unused land to master-plan those large developments, along with long-term vision and political will to see them through to completion, said Geoffrey Sears, a partner at Wareham Development in Emeryville. However, for commercial developers in the Interstate 880 corridor, like Wareham, which developed and manages R&D campuses in Emeryville, Berkeley and Richmond, there were no “green fields,” or undeveloped land, and often the only option to build was to clean up and redevelop former industrial land, he said.

Urban business clusters tend to be “less perfectly planned, more organic and eclectic” than suburban business parks, out of both necessity and intent, Sears said. They tend to include ground-floor retail, which also began showing up more often in the suburbs as buildings went more vertical.

As more East Bay business parks are being rethought to integrate mixed-use and housing, “the exclusive-business business park is becoming obsolete,” said Kate White, executive director of the San Francisco district council of the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit organization that advocates plans that maximize land use, such as clustering development around transit centers.

“Suburban office parks were developed in an era of endless oil, and we are no longer in that era,” White said.

Business parks evolved as a way to cluster employment in locations that didn’t have urban cores, so that companies could share amenities like parking and infrastructure and their often suburban-dwelling employees could drive to work. The suburban business park design was intended to be “people-friendly,” close to homes, with low-rise buildings and parklike settings with trees and lawns, said Larry Westland, senior vice president at TRI Commercial. “That was the thinking going back 40 years ago: let’s work close to where we live but have more architecturally friendly, warm fuzzy friendly style of architecture” than was found in the urban centers, he said. “Now the trend is just the opposite -- you want to be on public transportation and in the (urban) core where all the services are.”

Although suburban parks originally evolved to serve nearby residents, over time companies found that access to public transportation gave them a greater pool of employees from which to draw. That led to Bishop Ranch and Hacienda initiating shuttles and bus services to make it easier for employees to utilize Bay Area Rapid Transit and the Altamont Commuter Express.

That trend continues today, driving redevelopment projects that include commercial office space to be built adjacent to BART stations in the East Bay and elsewhere, further underscoring the importance of transit for businesses, White said.

The concept of people living in one place and walking or taking public transit to their jobs, shopping and entertainment is not exclusive to urban areas, said Joe Garaventa of Garaventa Properties, which is working on a 450,000-square-foot retail center at 125-acre Fairfield Corporate Commons in Fairfield.

“There is no reason that can’t happen in suburban business parks, and we are already starting to see that evolution,” said Garaventa.

“This is what people want. This is what cities want. It is an extension of smart growth,” he said. “It is the line of thinking that if we are going to grow, we are going to try and put a certain amount of convenience in people’s lives.”

Adding ground-floor retail and housing has been made easier by the fact that many business parks have gotten much denser since beginning as single-story building campuses in the 1970s. Many Bay Area parks, including Hacienda, went to two stories in the late 1980s and then mid-rise, or four to six stories, in the late 1990s, allowing them to accommodate more people and uses without acquiring more land, said S. Gregory Davies, chairman and CEO of CPS Corfac International.

“Developers building that (Tri-Valley) market, including ourselves, saw multi-story buildings as the product of the future,” Davies said.

Now developers like Blackstone Group, which acquired the CarrAmerica campus in Pleasanton when it merged with Equity Office Properties Trust, are eyeing the parking lots surrounding the multistory buildings for yet more density.

At Fairfield Corporate Commons, plans call for 410 units of housing, a retail center and eventually another 800,000 square feet of office space, said Garaventa. His company took the model proved decades earlier by Bishop Ranch and Hacienda to a place that also needed nearby jobs: Solano County, where 55,000 people commute out daily.

“As long as people live in suburban regions there will always will be a push to place jobs where people actually live and thereby get (them) a shorter commute,” Garaventa said.

And while mixed-use development can benefit communities by reducing car trips, it can’t address the needs of all businesses, such as light industry, said Joe Ernst, partner and development manager at SRM Associates Inc., which has developed part of Harbor Bay Business Park in Alameda for industrial users, including Peet’s Coffee.

Residents tend to dislike the truck traffic, noise and sometimes smells produced by industrial activity, so it’s a poor fit for locating adjacent to housing developments, Ernst said.

“I continue to think business parks for light industrial uses make some sense, because you have uses that historically haven’t fit well together,” he said.

Not only does the Bay Area economy need light industry jobs, but it needs to have them available closer to cities, Ernst said. “By moving it all out to the (Central) Valley you increase truck trips significantly.”

There are ways to design business parks to minimize the impact of industry on the surrounding area, such as including dedicated access roads for trucks, he said.

“Businesses that have like needs want to mass in one area. It makes sense,” Ernst said.

But will there be any more new business parks to fill those needs? Probably not on the scale of Bishop Ranch or Hacienda, made possible by single developers acquiring large tracts of land, experts said. The Bay Area has very few undeveloped parcels like that left, making it more likely that any new project would be infill redevelopment.

“Without the big undeveloped green field available, it’s harder to acquire land,” Sears said. “A political vision (for business development) would help communities. ... Hacienda and Bishop Ranch both started as the vision of single companies.”

jsaunders@bizjournals.com | 925-598-1427

Touro University hopes to begin expansion in 2009

Touro University hopes to begin expansion in 2009
by Jenna V. Loceff, Staff Reporter

MARE ISLAND – One of the first up and running facilities on Mare Island after the redevelopment program got under way almost 10 years ago was Touro University-California, and it is now preparing to expand.

The university is a division of Touro College, a not-for-profit, Jewish-sponsored education institution based in Manhattan.

Touro University-California opened in San Francisco in 1997 and moved to Mare Island in 1999. It currently occupies seven buildings on a 44-acre parcel of land on the inactive Naval Base in the San Pablo Bay.

A mile and a half away on the north end of the island is an area of 191 acres that Touro plans to purchase for an expansion to the current campus. There are 156 buildable acres, the rest being wetlands. Part of the land is still owned by the Navy and has to be cleaned up and then turned over to the city in order for the deal to take place.

Touro has purchased 25 acres thus far, beginning the “project one” phase of the process. The rest of the land is in the exclusive rights and negotiating period, which includes the draft of an Environmental Impact Report.

Construction on the approximately 25-acre plot is set to begin in early 2009 and is expected to take roughly 42 months to complete. It will be a heavy-ion particle therapy cancer treatment center, the first of its kind in the United States. The plan for the new campus includes more space for education and a hotel, which will most likely be run by an outside group, according to spokesman Jim Mitchell. It is proposed to be finished in 2012.

Headquartered out of Manhattan, Touro College has 28 campuses. These include medical schools, law schools and Jewish liberal arts schools for men and women.

There are 1,250 students currently at the Mare Island campus. The first graduating class in the pharmacy program is set to graduate in 2009.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Amtrak's Capitol Corridor ridership rises 32.6 percent compared to July 2007

Monday, August 18, 2008 - 2:38 PM PDT

Amtrak's Capitol Corridor ridership rises in July

East Bay Business Times
Ridership on Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor between Auburn and San Jose carried 161,731 passengers in July, an increase of 32.6 percent compared to July 2007 -- a significant bump in a month that saw similar increases on other lines throughout the nation.

Nationally, Amtrak ridership in July increased to 2.75 million, nearly a 14 percent increase and marking the most passengers carried in any single month in Amtrak’s 37-year history.

“Increasing fuel prices, highway congestion, airline issues and environmental awareness continue to make intercity passenger rail extremely relevant and popular,” Alex Kummant, president and CEO of Amtrak, said in a statement.

Amtrak said that July ticket revenue rose to $168 million, up 18.6 percent from a year earlier.

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight overnight train service between Seattle and Los Angeles was its most popular overnight train in July with more than 47,000 passengers, a 27.7 percent increase from a year earlier.

Note: Capitol Corridor trains stop in Solano County at the Fairfield/Suisun station allowing for connection to UC Davis in Davis and Emeryville and UC Berkeley.

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

2,000 BP Solar Home Solutions systems target for Trilogy in Rio Vista

Going solar
Article Launched: 08/17/2008 07:45:22 AM PDT


OCR Solar & Roofing, through its relationship with global leader BP Solar, will install potentially 2,000 BP Solar Home Solutions systems on Trilogy by Shea Homes communities in California, including those in Rio Vista, as part of Trilogy's national solar power offering.

Trilogy will offer free solar power systems on new homes as part of its ongoing commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of homes in all of its Shea Homes Active Lifestyle Communities across four states.

Additional details are available at http://www.sheasuperiology.com/trilogy.

For sale: Slightly used wind farm

For sale: Slightly used wind farm
Sacramento Business Journal - by Celia Lamb Staff writer



SMUD’s wind farm in Solano County could be worth about $150 million to $180 million, based on the cost of building a similar-sized one.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is negotiating to sell its wind-power project in Solano County to a private company by the end of the year.

The utility would buy the wind power, potentially at a cheaper rate than SMUD’s current costs of operating the system.

SMUD representatives would not identify the potential buyer.

“Because we’re a municipal utility, we can’t take advantage of production tax credits that are available to private companies,” said Jon Bertolino, SMUD’s superintendent of renewable generation.

A federal tax credit of 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour produced from wind turbines expires at the end of this year, so SMUD is in a hurry to transfer the wind farm into private hands. The production tax credit would exist for 10 years from the date the private company purchases the wind project.

The utility is negotiating a contract that would include an option to buy the project back in 10 years, according to a SMUD staff report.

SMUD installed 23 wind turbines in 2003 and 2004, and added 29 larger turbines from May 2006 to December. The project produces up to 102 megawatts, or enough wind power for about 34,000 homes.

SMUD’s wind turbines could be worth about $150 million to $180 million, based on the cost of building a similar-sized wind farm today, said Case van Dam, the director of the University of California Davis Wind Energy Collaborative. The older turbines have likely depreciated in value, potentially knocking the price down.

Van Dam said he didn’t know who might be in the market for the wind farm, but it would be logical for one of the three other companies operating wind turbines in Solano County to buy the project.

Those companies include Juno Beach, Fla.-based FPL Energy, a subsidiary of FPL Group Inc. (NYSE: FPL); Escondido-based enXco Inc.; and Iberdrola Renewables Inc., a subsidiary of Spain-based Iberdrola Renewables S.A.

On July 17, SMUD’s board of directors authorized an extension of two wind-turbine operations and maintenance contracts with Vestas-American Wind Technology Inc., a subsidiary of Vestas Wind Systems A/S of Denmark. The existing contracts, worth a total of $23.5 million, expire in 2010 and 2012. The board authorized up to $23 million for maintenance through 2017.

“The extension of the Vestas (agreements) assures SMUD that Vestas will be operating and maintaining the turbines during the full period where SMUD would not have ownership of the turbines,” according to a SMUD staff report.

Selling the wind turbines and buying back the power makes good business sense, van Dam said, because the utility would receive some of the benefit of the tax credit, and that could mean lower costs for SMUD customers.

“It could be a win-win for everybody involved,” van Dam said.

clamb@bizjournals.com | 916-558-7866

I-80, Route 12 transportation priorities

I-80, Route 12 transportation priorities
Monday, August 18, 2008
BY JENNA V. LOCEFF
STAFF REPORTER

SOLANO COUNTY – Several major transportation projects are under way in Solano County, including the addition of 8.7 miles of a high-occupancy vehicle lane on Interstate 80 set to be finished in late 2009 and a widening project and center barrier on Route 12.

“There is not a lot of money to go around, and there are a lot of projects,” said Janet Adams, director of projects at the Transportation Authority. With the passage of Proposition 1B in 2006, funds have been allocated to a number of current and proposed projects.

Construction on the HOV lane has begun. It will run from Red Top Road in Fairfield to the Airbase Parkway in both directions. To be completed in 2012 will be the relocation of two truck scales and creation of an interchange to curtail traffic.

The Transportation Authority is working closely with Caltrans on the project.

“It is really a partnership,” said Jim Mitchell, executive director of the Solano Transportation Authority. “We decide how money gets spent, and Caltrans makes it happen. It takes collaborative planning, and we have been able, for the most part, to work together. “It is important to have local political support,” he added. “And we do.”

In addition to the traffic issues, there have been questions as to the safety of drivers and passengers on the roads. In the March of last year, there were six fatalities on Route 12. Since October of last year, there have been nine deaths. Two of the deaths in the past two years were children, which spawned a safety investigation, and a four-pronged safety plan was put into effect. Enforcement, education, legislation and engineering are the pieces, allowing law enforcement and policy makers the chance to get to the problems from all sides.

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, backed Assembly Bill 112 that created a double-fine zone in the same section of Rouse 12 that the fatalities took place.

Most of the fatalities were head-on collisions on the stretch of Route 12 that goes from Suisun City to Rio Vista. Caltrans and the transportation agency worked together to fund and install rumble strips and a K-rail – a concrete barrier designed to lift a car if it hits it to minimize damage.

A California Office of Traffic Safety grant allows for overtime hours for the Highway Patrol for more enforcement. This grant is good for two years, and the hope is that within that time, more physical improvements can take place.

Another challenge the Transportation Authority faces is a lack of parallel routes. In an area where there is a major traffic corridor, it is helpful if there is an alternative route to distribute traffic between several roads. The Jepson Parkway project will help that out.

“We want local options so that our local trips can stay off I-80,” Mr. Mitchell said. “You can actually take those routes now, it is just less convenient.”

Kaiser spends $1 billion on hospitals

Kaiser spends $1 billion on hospitals
NEW FACILITIES FOR VACAVILLE, VALLEJO SET TO OPEN IN 2009
Monday, August 18, 2008
BY D. ASHLEY FURNESS
STAFF REPORTER

SOLANO COUNTY – Kaiser Perm-anente will spend more than $1 billion in Solano by 2009, building two new medical centers and another 57-office medical building. The buildings are expected to boost county employment by about 2,000 to 3,000 jobs during the next five years, according to Kaiser officials, who also hope the sites will attract other types of businesses to the area.

“There will be a lot more staff in the area who will be looking for shopping, food, recreation,” said Kaiser spokesman Jim Caroompas. “We hope it will have an economic benefit to the county as whole.”

Though the total number of Solano County jobs has grown by about 19 percent between June 1997 and June 2008, employment has slowly declined in the last two years. The California Employment Development Department reported an average 200,900 jobs in 2006, which slipped to a low of 197,700 this March, though it has made gains in recent months, hitting 199,500 in June.

“The hospital will be a great amenity for the people who live in the area not only because so many of them are members, but it adds a huge number of high-salary jobs to the city,” said Mike Palombo, economic development manager for the city of Vacaville.

Health care positions are projected to be among the fastest-growing industries in the next decade.

The 340,000-square-foot, four-story Vacaville Medical Center on Vaca Valley Parkway is expected to open its doors in April next year. It will have 150 beds, all in private rooms, as well as a 36-bay emergency room, pharmacy and 2,300-vehicle parking lot.

The center will have the city’s first maternity ward and neighbor an expanded, 57-office medical building, which will bring new specialty services to the city. Other services include ambulatory surgery, cardiology, radiology, oncology, orthopedics, podiatry, urology, chemotherapy, nephrology and head and neck surgery.

Vacaville is the second testing ground for Kaiser’s new “template hospital” plan, which will allow the organization to cut off about 18 months in the licensing and design-approval process for future facilities.

“Vacaville is the second hospital being built based on a model developed by Kaiser that all hospitals will use from now on,” Mr. Caroompas said. “The idea was devised about five years ago,

and basically it created a basic construction design. Each new hospital will be basically the same but enough wiggle room to allow them to tweak it to have its own individuality.”

The first Kaiser facility to use the model opened in Antioch in November. The models include a number of green features, including the widespread use of large windows with UV-filtering coating to cut down on electric lighting as well as recycled rubber flooring and parking lot asphalt.

The hospital is also made to be family friendly, with large private rooms and pull-out beds equipped with flat screen televisions. “We really wanted to promote a sense of comfort and home. We no longer have visiting hours, but patients are open to family 24 hours,” Mr. Caroompas said.

In Vallejo, the current Kaiser facility built in 1971 will be demolished and replaced with a 460,000-square-foot, 248-bed hospital, which will open next fall. The building on Serano Drive will include an emergency room, 24-bed intensive care unit and radiology department. The site will also include a rehabilitation department with two gyms.

Besides the Vallejo hospital, Kaiser currently has a smaller medical office in Vacaville, one in Fairfield and an office in Napa.

Solano County developing future roadmap

Solano County developing future roadmap
Monday, August 18, 2008
BY LORALEE STEVENS
STAFF REPORTER

SOLANO COUNTY – Solano County has hired community analysis powerhouse Doug Henton of Collaborative Economics to perform a three-year in-depth study of county resources and potential.

The county is eager to attract new business, especially in the clean tech, life sciences and food and beverage manufacturing sectors.

The Solano County Economic Development Corp. will oversee the $484,500 project, which will feature profiles of five key industry clusters, according to the group’s Vice President Sandy Person.

The development corporation is a consortium of public agencies, including all the Solano cities, and private companies, formed 25 years ago to encourage smart development.

“We have a major brewery, a candy maker, wind technology and a growing number of medical technology and neutraceutical companies,” said Ms. Person. “We need to find out how to expand those industries.”

Mr. Henton, who is also a consultant to the California Economic Strategy Panel, has worked with Sonoma and Sacramento counties, among others, to develop regional economic and innovation strategies.

“He did an index of economic and community progress for Silicon Valley that had a tremendous impact on how that region developed,” said Ms. Person.

Solano County, hovering midway between Sacramento and San Francisco, faces a number of challenges to economic development.

Its work force is robust – 426,000 people live in Solano – but most commute out of the county to work in points north, south and west. Like its neighbor Napa, voters turned down a business-backed gas tax to improve transportation infrastructure.

“Our work force and the amount of undeveloped but utility-served land available, especially in the northern part of the county, are strengths. But Solano has historically suffered from an identity problem,” said Ms. Person.

Meanwhile, the recent bankruptcy filing by the city of Vallejo has cast a shadow over the entire region even as many areas of the economy are thriving.

In Fairfield, for instance, the city donated property for a 1-million-square-foot mall.

The presence of Anheuser Bush and Jelly Belly in Fairfield, BP Solar and Roofing and Genentech in Vacaville and Gymboree in Dixon attest to Solano’s ability to draw corporations. “But we need a roadmap into the future. Doug Henton and Collaborative Economics will study our weaknesses and our advantages and help us plot a course,” said Ms. Person.

The completed study will identify 20 economic indicators that will tell the story of the county and its seven communities on an annual basis, including economic, work force, housing, education and transportation.

A land inventory and absorption study will identify all undeveloped parcels in the county that are zoned commercial and industrial and rate each parcel’s readiness for development.

Five key industry clusters will be profiled that will provide Solano with a focus for growth and work force development and also enable local developers to target companies for expansion.

It’s expected to be completed in 2011.

For more information, visit www.solanoedc.org.