Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Solano County - offers second round of help for employers to provide jobs

Solano County - News Details

County offers second round of help for employers to provide jobs

February 16, 2011

Local employers can get a little help adding new jobs thanks to Solano County's Create Jobs program.

"Local companies want to expand their businesses, create jobs and get our economy moving," said Supervisor Mike Reagan, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “We want them to do so as well and the Create Jobs program gives them a little extra incentive to add jobs now.”

The subsidized employment effort is a re-start of a similar initiative implemented last year with federal American Recovery and Investment Act funding. In that effort, 27 residents were placed in jobs with 14 employers. At the end of the six-month program, 18 of the participants remained employed.

“We are hoping the program will be even more successful this year,” said Christiana Smith, Health and Social Services deputy director for employment and eligibility services. “Local employers have already seen that they get much more than a subsidy. They also receive an array of services to ensure new hires are successful.”

Federal and state CalWORKs dollars are funding Solano County’s Create Jobs program.

Any employer in Solano County can participate if they hire new employees in new jobs for at least 20 hours per week. Employers will be reimbursed for 80 percent of wage costs up to $16 per hour. The employer must be able to document that supervisory and training costs equal 25 percent of the subsidized wage costs, and that these costs are not paid from federal funds.

Potential employees under the program are people already participating in CalWORKs. CalWORKs participants should contact their employment services worker to sign up for this program.

Employers interested in participating in the program should e-mail, call (707) 553-5173, or go to

Solano County - tops in getting benefits to residents

Solano County - News Details

County tops in getting benefits to residents

February 16, 2011

Solano County is the best medium-sized county at getting food stamp benefits into the hands eligible low-income residents, according to the California Food Policy Advocates.

The organization presented the county the "Best PAI in Class- Medium County" award at the 11th annual CalFresh Forum in Sacramento on Feb. 9. The “Freshy Awards” honor individuals and organizations for their efforts to boost participation in the CalFresh program, formerly known as the Food Stamp program.

“The CalFresh program gives eligible families much needed assistance to provide healthy and nutritious meals,” said Christiana Smith, Health and Social Services deputy director for employment and eligibility services. “The integration of services at the one-stop campuses, our outreach efforts and the ability for clients to apply for benefits online were key to achieving our participation rate.”

In December 2010, Solano County had 18,022 open cases with individuals receiving the federally funded nutritional assistance benefits, up 3,816 cases or 27 percent from December 2009. The monetary value of the December 2010 benefits was $5.6 million in local food purchases.

Residents can apply for CalFresh benefits online at

Solano County ranks fifth in the state for maximum participation in the federal program, according a report by the California Food Policy Advocates that establishes a county-level Program Access Index (PAI) by estimating CalFresh utilization among low-income individuals. Solano County's PAI was .695. The remaining counties in top five were Fresno (.788), Tulare (.769), Del Norte (.731) and Sacramento (.707) counties.

Full participation would bring an additional $13.5 million annually in federal nutritional benefits to Solano County families, the report said. The organization estimates that statewide only half of eligible Californians receive CalFresh benefits, which translates into about $4.9 billion in federal nutrition benefits that are not collected each year.

For more information about CalFresh participation and its impact on the state and local economies, read CFPA’s 2010 Lost Dollars, Empty Plates report at and CFPA’s Program Access Index report.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The UC Davis School of Medicine rose to 37th place among 134 medical schools in the U.S.

The UC Davis School of Medicine rose to 37th place among 134 medical schools in the U.S. in an annual ranking of research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2010, school officials reported Monday.

That's 11 places higher than 2009 and 25 spots better than in 2001, when UC Davis ranked 62nd nationwide.

UC Davis got almost $119 million in total research funding from NIH in 2010. This compares to just over $46 million in 2001. NIH funding represents 62 percent of the school's total outside funding, which reached $190.4 million in fiscal 2009-2010.

"The proportion of NIH funding for an institution is one measure of research excellence," Lars Berglund, associate dean for research at the UC Davis School of Medicine, said in a news release. "Funded by U.S. tax dollars, NIH supports researchers around the country and around the world as they work to improve people's health."

Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.

UC Davis ranked particularly high in basis sciences, including microbiology (12th out of 96 surveyed) and in anatomy/cellular biology (20th out of 80 surveyed). In clinical sciences, the urology department ranked fifth out of 34 schools surveyed and department of neurology ranked 21st out of 78.

Berglund attributed much of the recent gains in NIH research funding to work on autism and fragile X syndrome at the UC Davis MIND Institute, research partnerships with the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, UC Davis Cancer Center grants and support for scientists through the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center, which seeks to move discoveries from the laboratory into the market place.

"Research fuels the discoveries that transform health, and the infusion of federal funds contributes to the overall economic health of the region," Claire Pomeroy, chief executive officer of the UC Davis Health System and dean of the medical school, said in a news release.
UC Davis ranked fourth among the University of California medical schools in NIH funding last year.

The ranking includes UC Riverside, which was approved by UC Regents in July 2008. The school is gearing up for business but will not accept its first class until fall 2012.
UC San Francisco ranked second in NIH funding among medical schools nationwide, with $442 million in 2010. Johns Hopkins University took the top spot with almost $439 million.
UC San Diego was ninth, with almost $303 million; UC Los Angeles was 12th, with $294 million, and UC Irvine was 54th, with $71 million. Fledgling UC Riverside got $1.3 million.

Monday, February 7, 2011

$50,000 Syar grant a call to action

February 7th, 2011 02:05am
By Jenna V. Loceff, North Bay Business Journal Staff Reporter

SOLANO – Solano County’s seven cities and county government have always been strong supporters of the Economic Development Corporation, but the fiscal crisis has meant funding from public sector declined by about $100,000 for the 2010 calendar year.

Due to state budget cuts, public sector funds have been diminishing over the past couple years and now account for 25 percent of EDC revenue compared with 40 percent, which has been the norm.

The EDC started a capital campaign hoping to raise that $100,000 and last year Jim Syar of Syar Industries challenged the membership to match a $50,000 donation dollar for dollar to reach the EDC’s goal of raising that $100,000.

“We are thrilled to recognize Jim Syar and Syar Industries for their phenomenal support and contribution to Solano EDC,” said Michael Ammann, executive director of the EDC. “Like all economic development organizations in California today, Solano EDC faces financial hardships due to California’s budget crisis and economic challenges. Solano business and government partners have been strong supporters of EDC and recognize the critical role EDC plays in making first contacts with companies that might locate in this region. We have faced cuts of more than $100,000 in annual funding due to these cutbacks from government and private sources.”

But even during the worst recession in a generation, Solano EDC members stepped up with a $33,000 match. The Solano EDC “Cup is More Than Half Full Award” was created to mark this achievement and challenge the membership to “more than finish the job in 2011.”

The EDC staff and officers are taking steps to reduce costs, but with these steps come the hard decisions that will affect EDC’s ability to do the day-to-day work that is necessary to keep Solano County’s economic opportunities strong.

The fear is that reductions in activities by Solano EDC will result in less exposure at conferences, trade shows, one-on-one meetings, and in public relations/advertising expenditures.

Syar Industries is headquartered in Napa and is a leading producer of aggregate rock products and paving materials in Northern California.

Syar serves the construction industry from facilities in Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Yolo, and Contra Costa counties. Today, Syar operates nine asphalt paving material plants, four recycling facilities, and ten ready mix concrete batch plants.

Syar provided materials for the original construction of Marine World, towers on the Al Zampa Bridge and Benicia/Martinez Bridge, pavement of Curtola Parkway, the widening of Highway 37, the grading and excavating of the original Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Vallejo, and paving of nearly every street in Vallejo. The Syar Family has contributed to many community organizations, events and milestones.

Solano index full of promise — and one troubling sign

February 4th, 2011 04:15pm
Solano index full of promise — and one troubling sign
by Brad Bollinger

From Monday’s editorial in the Business Journal:

Solano County, which for years has been considered something of a rest stop between Sacramento and San Francisco, is no more.

“Solano is the emerging growth center at the heart of the Northern California Mega Region,” writes Solano Economic Development Corporation President Mike Ammann.

In fact, Solano County has many of the amenities and economic drivers most regions aspire to including the rest of the North Bay.

It has a fast-growing life sciences cluster. It is home to Fortune 500 companies, a major Air Force base as well as having a thriving micro enterprise sector. UC, Davis, which is fast rising in the ranks of great research universities, sits on Solano’s edge.

“Our collective entrepreneurial spirit should be able to capitalize on an adult workforce that continues to become more educated, a growing micro-enterprise employment sector, and a business churn with more businesses growing in Solano County than leaving,” said Solano County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael J. Reagan in the introduction to the Solano EDC’s 2010 Index of Economic and Community Progress released Jan. 27.

But as the report’s author, Doug Henton of Collaborative Economics, points out, there is one statistic that threatens to overshadow all others: Education levels among Solano’s youth.

Even as educational levels of adults rose, from 2007-’08 to 2008-’09 Solano’s high school dropout rate climbed a troubling 6 percent to 28 percent. The statewide dropout rate is 22 percent, nearly 30 percent lower.

Meanwhile, the number of students taking UC-CSU required coursework in high school trails the statewide rate 28 percent to 35 percent. Solano’s pre-school enrollment also trails the statewide average.

As Mr. Henton told the attendees at the EDC’s annual meeting Jan. 27, a failure to reverse these worrisome educational trends could have disastrous impacts on Solano County’s economy and its communities in the years and decades ahead.

The good news is that Solano is continuing to develop the tools, assets and desire to meet the challenge.