Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Impact Solano to focus on future of key region

Impact Solano to focus on future of key region

Wednesday conference to feature economic forecast, local outlooks

Located at the center of a geographic triangle linking San Francisco, the North Bay and Sacramento, Solano County is welcoming entrepreneurs and businesses looking for a place to locate or expand with favorable operating conditions, lower costs and other important perks.

Impact Solano, the North Bay Business Journal’s upcoming conference focusing on this county, will be held Wednesday from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield. Cost is $45 per person and tables are also available. Call Linda Perkins, 707-521-5264.

The conference will feature an economic outlook and panel of of local speakers.

Robert Eyler

Robert Eyler, Ph.D.

Director, Executive MBA Program and Frank Howard Allen Research Fellow, Sonoma State University

Dr. Eyler will provide attendees with a macroeconomic overview of the nation and region, given the events of 2011 as the context for a general preview at 2012, followed by a close up outlook at Solano County.

His current forecast for 2012 for both national and state economies will be presented. The rationale behind this forecast will include an analysis of labor the market’s ability to generate jobs and reduce unemployment, and the slow growth of both production and incomes.

“There are some caveats to 2012 being a year of continued, positive economic news that must be explored,” Dr. Eyler said. “The state budget may change in January, based on an inability of California to generate tax revenue to cover expenses in the first half of 2012, which may lead to state-level cuts.”

Looking ahead, the federal government will be gearing up for an election year, meaning 2012 could be another year of stagnation and rhetoric versus proactive economic planning, according to Dr. Eyler.
At the local level, he believes Solano County should continue utilizing its defined clusters in life sciences, food and energy, as well as recognizing that regional competition will continue from all directions as both housing markets and job markets continue to recover slowly.

“The challenge for Solano County will be continuing to grow in the midst of macroeconomic uncertainty and slow movement in other markets that would support business clusters,” he said, noting clusters such as construction, professional and personal services.

Sandy Person

Sandy Person

Interim president, Solano County Economic Development Corp.

Ms. Person will describe the demographics of Solano County and its proactive economic development process.

She will also discuss the county’s business-friendly market environment and offer a preview of new commercial real estate transactions that are attracting an increasing number of firms into the area — including two hybrid and all-electric vehicle manufacturers.

“Solano is one of the fastest growing sectors in the North Bay. It is a region that has plenty of open space for large and small plants and offices of every size,” she said.

Ms. Person will also provide a rationale on why so many firms are choosing to locate in Solano and what is attracting them.

“Major transportation arteries, more space to grow and expand, access to rail heads and air transport, plus close proximity to suppliers and partners, are some of the reasons for the recent flurry of new arrivals — with more to come.

“We are experiencing a relocation and corporate migration trend as firms move from other cities and counties into our area to avail themselves of the many advantages our county has to offer,” she said.
“The EDC’s mission is to facilitate economic development and assist these firms in navigating the process.”

“Solano is truly becoming an industrial dynamo of Northern California. It’s an area with so much to offer.”

David Payne

David Payne

Manager of operations, Altec Industries, Inc.

Mr. Payne will provide the audience with the reasons why his firm, one of the largest manufacturers of hybrid commercial vehicles, originally located in Solano and has decided to remain there.

The company’s Dixon Final Assembly Plant serves the western U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii) and the Pacific Rim.

“This location is logistically ideal given its proximity to Interstates 80 and 5, shipping ports, and supply chain support from either Sacramento or Bay Area businesses,” Mr. Payne said.

“Our recent decision to stay in Solano County and expand our current operation, rather than relocate, was primarily motivated by Altec’s appreciation of this area and its corporate citizenship.”

Altec has enjoyed a good reputation in the local community since 1988 — one that allows it to easily recruit from a qualified labor pool to build a stable work force. He said competitive pay and benefit packages enhance an attractive, enjoyable work environment.

Pacific Gas & Electric is Altec’s largest West Coast customer. PG&E’s fleet office is located in nearby Davis. PG&E and Altec have collaborated to create several hybrid solutions for utility vehicles, leading to a new expansion of Altec’s Green Fleet Focus Factory.

“In addition to our partnership with PG&E, U.C. Davis offers untapped resources in research, development, and validation of hybrid vehicle designs.”

Gary Passama

Gary Passama

President and CEO, NorthBay Healthcare

As Solano County grows, employers and residents expect to see healthcare services expand to accommodate more workers and families. Mr. Passama’s presentation will address his company’s plans for achieving this.

Amid the uncertainties of health care reform and the economy, NorthBay Healthcare is planning to move ahead with a bold strategic plan that will bring new advanced medical services to an underserved Solano County.

After opening the county’s first open-heart surgery and cardiac care program, NorthBay is poised to be the first to provide trauma care in the county.

Mr. Passema has an ambitious agenda and timetable, one that includes a plan designed to grow emergency services to become the county’s premier center for heart attack treatment.

All of this is set against a backdrop that is even more ambitious — a major hospital expansion project at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital.

This $120 million project will result in doubling the acute care hospital in Vacaville and will position this independent, community-based, non-profit healthcare system to meet the revolution in healthcare delivery that is coming down the pike — along with the medical needs of the rapidly-expanding commercial and residential population in Solano County.

The health care industry is one of the largest employers in the North Bay and generates more $15.3 billion in revenue in the San Francisco Bay Area alone, according to recent news reports.