Sunne McPeak, president of the California Emerging Technology Fund, gave the keynote address to the Solano EDC annual meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn Wednesday morning in Fairfield. (Mike Greener/Daily Republic)
FAIRFIELD — Solano Economic Development Corp. members on Wednesday heard some encouraging words amid a still-struggling economy.
The occasion was the group’s 29th annual meeting. About 270 people came to the lunchtime event at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Sunne McPeak gave the keynote address. McPeak is a former Contra Costa County supervisor, former secretary of the state Business, Transportation and Housing Agency under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and president of the California Emerging Technology Fund.
“Those of you sitting in the room are the key to Solano’s success,” McPeak said, adding people in their positions are at the heart of whether California becomes a global leader once again.
Both local elected officials and people from local businesses were in the room. McPeak called the area’s public-private partnerships its great strength.
She mentioned other Solano County strengths as well, from its proximity to such research institutions as UC Davis, to such natural features as Suisun Marsh and San Pablo Bay.
“Any successful economic strategy, you already know, you play to your strengths,” she said.
McPeak labeled the state’s successful effort to end redevelopment agencies, which cities such as Fairfield, Suisun City and Vacaville used for economic development, as “insanity.”
“There needs to be a replacement soon,” McPeak said.
She had harsh words for state government in general, but for the structure rather than legislators. At one point, she had people involved with private enterprise in the room stand.
“We want to thank you for being patient with this state,” McPeak said.
McPeak talked about a movement called California Forward, of which she is a part. Among other things, it would base state budgeting on results that can be measured. She mentioned five criteria: reducing crime, improving education, reducing poverty, improving health and increasing employment.
“That is absolutely common-sense government,” McPeak said.
She also talked of the California Emerging Technology Fund, which the state Public Utilities Commission formed in the wake of telecommunication company mergers. AT&T and Verizon gave a total of $60 million to the fund, McPeak said.
The group’s goal is to close what it calls the digital divide by having 90 percent of California households with broadband connections by 2020. The number stands at about 70 percent today. McPeak said communities with high-speed Internet access get more investment.
McPeak urged the Solano County Board of Supervisors to hold a summit on the broadband issue with Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
Solano County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Linda Seifert attended the Solano EDC lunch. She noted after the event that Solano County already teams with neighboring counties on certain issues, such as the recent agricultural economic summit with Yolo County and work on tribal issues with Napa and Sonoma counties.
Seifert said Solano County would have to look at which counties it would partner with on broadband issues, if it decides to go in that direction. McPeak during her presentation didn’t say why she mentioned Contra Costa and Alameda counties, as opposed to other regional counties.
Solano EDC President Sandy Person also addressed the luncheon gathering. She mentioned success stories in the county and its seven cities in 2011 and challenged people in the room to spread the message.
“Let’s make some magic happen in 2012,” Person said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or firstname.lastname@example.org.