Monday, March 14, 2011

Solano County leaders to stress agency's value - The Reporter

Solano County leaders to stress agency's value - The Reporter

Solano County leaders to stress agency's value
Posted: 03/14/2011 01:03:58 AM PDT

California legislators have been invited to attend Solano Economic Development Corporation membership networking event on March 30 to "learn how redevelopment projects have benefited the Solano economy," say organizers.
The invitation is the latest effort by local civic and business leaders to gain legislative support for keeping redevelopment agencies intact.

Speakers "will demonstrate how redevelopment funding has created economic opportunities through Solano County -- from the Suisun waterfront to the Vacaville downtown redevelopment, and in Vallejo, Fairfield, Dixon and Rio Vista," a press release announcing the event states.

"The governor has proposed in his budget that redevelopment funding be eliminated. I cannot stress too strongly just how devastating that would be to California and our Solano communities - especially right now with 12 percent unemployment," said Michael Ammann, president of Solano EDC.

Speakers at the meeting will include representatives from local cities in Solano County who will discuss the impact redevelopment projects have had on the economy including new business investment, increased job opportunities and construction of low income housing. They also will address how the funding elimination will hurt the cities in the coming months and years as economic development and housing staff will be reduced or eliminated, EDC organizers said.

The key speaker of the program will be Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area

Council, an organization of private business firms and executives. The Bay Area Council has endorsed Gov. Brown's proposed budget -- a move that would eliminate most of the state's economic development programs and realign and push many state programs down to county and city agencies. However, the Bay Area Council has called for reform of redevelopment agencies and not their elimination.
"California's budgets of the recent past have violated every principle of fiscal responsibility by conjuring up billions of dollars in fake revenues and pushing hard decisions off to 'next year,'" said Wunderman. "We don't like everything in this proposal. Our members don't like the higher taxes, which run counter to expanding business and jobs in the state. But on balance, we need to be part of the solution and we support the governor's proposal overall."

A recent letter signed by local mayors and two members of the Board of Supervisors urged Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Solano, to support the agencies. Wolk has said she supports Brown's proposal to do away with the agencies but has introduced legislation to allow formation of Infrastructure Financing Districts, which would absorb many of the functions of the current redevelopment agencies, only without being allowed to divert school district property taxes.

Still, Ammann said the current redevelopment structure is working and is "desperately needed" to provide opportunities for jobs and investment capital.

"This is critical legislation and our representatives need to know more about the history of redevelopment funding and what it has meant to Solano County residents," Ammann said. "It just doesn't make any sense to eliminate one of our state's more successful programs."

The meeting is one of EDC's monthly breakfast meetings to provide a forum to discuss critical issues and challenges. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield. Cost is $25 for Solano EDC members, $35 for non-members. Call 864-1855 for reservations or e-mail This meeting is sponsored by NorthBay Healthcare and First Northern Bank.