Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Solano Economic Development Corporation president comfortable with new leader taking over

By Melissa Murphy/ MMurphy@TheReporter.com
Posted: 06/13/2011 01:01:34 AM PDT

Mich A change in leadership at the Solano Economic Development Corporation is expected to be seamless when President Mike Ammann leaves and Vice President Sandy Person takes over.

"It will be steady as she goes," Ammann said. "It's always my goal to leave a good foundation for the next person to take the next step."

Ammann's last day is Tuesday. Afterward, he is headed to San Joaquin Partnership, a Stockton-based organization similar to the EDC.

For the next three months, Person will serve as the interim president at the nonprofit business until a decision is made on the position by the board of directors.

During Ammann's eight-year tenure with the EDC, he has worked vigilantly to build a name for Solano County, statewide and nationally.

"We moved from Solano County being on the edge to the center of a mega region," he said.

He said the first thing he did with the EDC is hit the road with the business community's message: "Plant your business in Solano County."

"We knew the county was rapidly changing, but we wanted to have a factual story and a consistent message. We identified challenges and pulled people together to support our vision."

His positive attitude and willingness to travel earned him the nickname "Mayor of Solano."

"He's everywhere," Person said.

Ammann said it was necessary.

Using the strengths inside Solano County, the EDC, along with its public and private partnerships, see the area as a growing market, he said.

"Using those partnerships, we've built the legacy of our name," he added.

Ammann also had a integral part in creating Team California, a statewide economic development team.

He explained that developing a statewide team leveraged dollars for the state, which helped Solano County and then helped each city in the county.

With a staff of only three, Person said they're a lean and high-functioning organization.

"We've been told we're the nicest competitor," Ammann said. "The reality is, we're competing and winning."

Even in the midst of new economic challenges, there have been some good outcomes, according to the duo.

"People continue to want to live here," Person pointed out.

Ammann added that the alternative energy industry continues to grow and specialty markets such as retail, health care and biotechnology are attractive to outsiders looking to locate to the area.

"It's been fun," he said. "It's the type of organization that attracts great people. I haven't had to look over my shoulder since I started. It's been a pleasure to work on behalf of Solano County."

Person is now on a mission to create a voice within the business community, to show up in front of regulatory government bodies and explain how the decisions they make affect businesses and the economy.

"We need to have a voice along with everyone else at the meetings," Person said.

Ammann added that regulatory environment is the biggest issue businesses face today.

"We need to make it known that without growth, we can't reach other goals," he said. "We need to be able to grow our economy, but we need to be rational about the process instead of fighting each other."

Person explained that anyone can go to the meetings of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Association of Bay Area Governments, air quality districts and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

"We've got to show up," she said.