Thursday, August 4, 2011

Solano County Board of Supervisors approves deal with Solano EDC

By Melissa Murphy / The Reporter
Posted: 08/03/2011 01:03:46 AM PDT

Solano County continues to be a part of the "family" created by the Solano Economic Development Corporation.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to renew its membership for three years with the agency for a total of $112,500. Supervisors Linda Seifert and Barbara Kondylis dissented. The county has been a member since 1990.

Additionally, the board voted 4 to 1 in favor of spending $20,000 to Solano EDC for the purpose of providing market intelligence information and to develop an annual economic profile.

Interim President Sandy Person said the mission of Solano EDC is to attract, grow and retain business industry in Solano County that enhances economic vitality.

"We are akin to a very large house with very many rooms and we have a strong foundation of 27 years serving this county," she explained. "We have a healthy reserve base and we congregate what can be a very large family and that family has very different characteristics."

Solano EDC has many arms, Person said, which includes marketing, project management, regional and local partnerships.

Right now, Solano EDC's funding is 70 percent from the private sector and 30 percent from the public sector.

In 2009-10, Solano EDC reduced its membership fees from the county by $10,000 or 21 percent and this time around will not receive funding for management oversight of the marketing contract as it has received in the past.

Seifert explained that while Solano EDC did reduce its membership fees, she would have liked to see further reduction this fiscal year.

"I look at what our non-profits have done, everyone has been taking cuts -- every year continuously," she said. "So it just seems to me, a show of good faith to show support for the non-profits in our community when everyone continues to take a fair share cut."

"For me, there should still be a reduction in the amount that we're paying," Seifert continued. "I am a very strong supporter of (Solano EDC). I think you do a marvelous job. ... As far as the mission and the goals and everything else, I am completely on board."

Supervisor Jim Spering disagreed.

"If I had the support, I would increase the $37,500 because I think there are other areas we have to explore," he said.

Spering explained that Solano EDC does a lot of things behind the scenes including retaining businesses looking to move out of the state, handling new business inquiries, expansion of new opportunities, and balances the ties between education and the workforce.

"This expenditure is a good investment," he said. "Unlike non-profits, who you can give them all the money you want, they don't create one new job, they don't create anymore revenue for the county. The (Solano EDC), I think, puts the emphasis on the right place."

He added that the private sector is key to tax revenue and creates jobs, and Solano EDC is an "arm" to do that for the county.

"Solano County needs to be competitive and Solano EDC makes that happen," Spering added.

Funding for both contracts, according to staff, was identified as a general fund expense in the 2011-12 budget.