Monday, March 21, 2011

Sorry, Newsweek -- Vallejo isn't dying

Sorry, Newsweek -- Vallejo isn't dying

Published By Times Herald
Posted: 03/20/2011 01:01:40 AM PDT

Hey, Newsweek, we've got news for you: Vallejo isn't dying!

The magazine recently put Vallejo on its list of 10 dying U.S. cities. With that, the publication could put a hamper on the effort to restore the city to its glory prior to the closing of Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

Ever since Mare Island was closed the soothsayers have predicted Vallejo's death. It's been a rough 15-plus years, but Vallejo continues to overcome the obstacles confronting it.

Even in the midst of this region's most disastrous economic downturn, the city has battled its way through the past three years. And, don't forget, the soothsayers were calling Vallejo's death even during the good economic times of the first years of this century.

Say what you will -- Vallejo is still alive!

The closing of Mare Island was a hard blow. The city economy had revolved around the naval base. Many residents made their living at the base. Some were in their second or third generation as a family, going to the Mare Island every day.

Stability, good pay, good benefits, camaraderie, neighbors, friends and families all revolved around Mare Island.

When the closure came, it virtually devastated Vallejo.

There just weren't any jobs to replace the thousands who were highly skilled in nuclear submarine maintenance. Some moved to other naval bases in the east, but most of these workers were young. And again the loss of this youth working force hurt Vallejo.

Many took early retirement, and still live in Vallejo, enjoying a town they love.

Today, as Vallejo struggles with the same challenges that face every other California city, the last thing it needed to read in a national magazine was that it is dying.

If one just looks at the progress the community has made through these past few years it is apparent there are many good things happening.

Mare Island is staging a comeback. Long overdue, today it has promising new businesses and educational and research facilities.

Some of the city's major corporations, like Meyer Corporation, have maintained their presence in the city. While retail sales are hurting throughout Northern California, Vallejo continues to roll along and now it is looking forward to increased sales revenue through a rejuvenated auto industry and new major retail outlets like Lowe's.

At the same time the city has worked hard to continue services for the poor, housing for the elderly and good police and fire protection. All of these have been accomplished because of the dedicated efforts of management and elected officials, and the sacrifices of the city's government employees.

Vallejo still is the "home" for Northern California's blue collar workers, and several unions have remained and even expanded their efforts.

And, the schools still open, the Little Leagues still play ball in the spring, and many families enjoy the pleasures of being on the San Francisco Bay.

Not exactly a rosy picture -- but not a dying rose either.

Call Vallejo and its residents resilient. Call them tough. Call them long-timers who won't give up on their community.

Councilman Michael Wilson said Vallejo is "reinventing" itself. And, that's one of the best ways to characterize the community.

There is just too much good about Vallejo and its location to believe its days are numbered.

Let's hope Newsweek hasn't carved a tombstone for Vallejo. Vallejo doesn't need it. The magazine might keep it for themselves and consider reinventing news magazines -- based on the reports regarding weekly news magazines and their losses in revenues.

Michael Ammann
Solano Economic Development Corporation