Solano business pioneer diesDaily Republic
By Ben Antonius
December 11th, 2009
By Ben Antonius
December 11th, 2009
FAIRFIELD — Norman Repanich, who led the Solano Economic Development Corp. though its early years and to some of its greatest victories, has died.
Repanich was 75. He died Thursday at the Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo from complications related to his treatments for cancer. No public service is planned.
“It was most unexpected and very sad news,” said Solano EDC Vice President Sandy Person, who worked with Repanich during his nine years with the group. “Norm was a huge part of the success we share in today.”
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Repanich fueled Solano's economic growth
By Reporter Staff
Posted: 12/12/2009 01:02:28 AM PST
A longtime champion for economic vitality in Solano County, Norman Repanich, died Thursday in Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo from complications of his treatment for leukemia.
A 75-year-old Sacramento native, Repanich was president of Solano Economic Development Corporation from 1986 to 1995, its formative years. He later took the post of economic development director of the city of Rio Vista, where he lived until his death.
He is credited with being instrumental in luring biotech giant Genentech to Vacaville and later China-based Meyer Corp. cookware to Vallejo. In Rio Vista, he helped Rich Collins establish California Vegetable Specialties, an internationally renowned grower of endive, in an industrial park he guided near the city airport.
During his tenure, Repanich pushed his vision of enhancing the workforce, improving education and nurturing cultural development to attract the best companies and jobs to Solano County cities. He forged collaborations with nearby University of California, Davis, and Solano Community College to produce top-notch candidates for the 21st-century workforce.
He was one of the first to recognize agriculture as one of Solano's top industries, no different than other manufacturers, and worked to bring food companies that complemented the local farm economy.
"Norman made it clear there was more to economic development than just strip malls and housing tracts," said former Reporter Business Editor Cynthia Roberts. "He showed the local business community how to beat the bushes for companies in all sectors which would bring sustainable economic growth and employment to the cities and county."
Repanich came to take the helm of Solano EDC after holding a similar post for the Greater Niles Economic Development Foundation in Michigan. Before moving to Rio Vista, he had lived in Vacaville and Fairfield with his wife, Janet, a schoolteacher, and his children, Peter and Aynn.
A graduate of California State University, Fresno, Repanich started his career with the Greater Tulare Chamber of Commerce, going on to work in business development for the city of Greenville, S.C., and as director of the Fairmont Industrial Credit Corp. in West Virginia prior to his post in Michigan.
Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering was saddened to hear of Repanich's death, recalling how Repanich had helped Suisun City with its redevelopment efforts during the time Spering served as mayor of that city.
"He was so helpful with ideas for different ways to find funding. He was a great resource," Spering said. "I think his greatest strength was that he understood the needs of small cities and that's why he was so effective in Solano."
Former Reporter publisher Richard Rico noted Repanich's work in laying the groundwork for Solano EDC.
"Much of what is happening in Solano County industry today can be credited to his work," he said. "He has left us a lasting legacy."