Struggling businesses and a tough economy may be dominating headlines across the nation but on Thursday, local civic and business leaders took time out to praise a handful of firms they say are thriving examples of what makes Solano County tick.
In all, nine local businesses were honored with the Spirit of Solano award at a standing-room-only Fairfield luncheon. The award recognizes local chambers of commerce and honors businesses that embody the entrepreneurial spirit of the region.
"We are living in some trying times when our economic structure is challenged from every side," Solano EDC President Sandy Person told the crowd of some 300 people at the event hosted by Westamerica Bank and the EDC at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield. "But it is appropriate that we honor each of you. You are the backbone of the economic wellbeing of our county."
She praised the businesses for their continued support of nonprofits, schools, churches and other agencies in the county, saying, "There is nothing we can't achieve if we continue to build on your many accomplishments."
Each of the businesses honored Thursday were nominated by local chambers of commerce. For Vacaville, the nominee was Travis Credit Union and Board Chairman Curt Newland couldn't have been prouder.
"This award follows the idea of people helping people," he said, adding that Travis is all about helping people. "We are proud of the work we do with groups and nonprofits and very proud of the financial literacy programs we have for teens and seniors," he said. That helping spirit is part of what earned Travis the award, chamber officials noted.
In Dixon, the award went to Ramtown Karate and its owners Jim and Kathy Ernest. Feted for their contributions to the community, individuals and families, the Ernests expressed amazement at the award. "We were surprised ... because we forget we're a business," Kathy Ernest told the crowd. "The business part of it is such a small part of what we get out of what we do."
Other winners included: Meyer Corporation in Fairfield; Computer Business Solutions in Benicia; businesswoman Marin Bitagon, nominated by the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce; Monarch Engineering President and CEO Robert Cortez, nominated by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Foster's Bighorn in Rio Vista; Ruby Joyce Barnett and Nationwide Insurance, nominated by the Solano County Black Chamber of Commerce; and Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo.