Thursday, September 27, 2012

Expert says 2013 economy could look like 2012’s

By Barry Eberling
FAIRFIELD — More of the same.
That’s what Robert Eyler sees for the economy next year. Eyler is chairman of the Economics Department at Sonoma State University and director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis.

“I do see recovery next year,” Eyler said Wednesday. “I see it continuing to be slow.”

He spoke at Impact Solano, an event presented by the North Bay Business Journal and Solano Economic Development Corp. More than 100 people attended at the Hilton Garden Inn.

“It’s very tough to make the statement next year will be much different than this one,” Eyler said.

At least, until the end of 2013. Then signs of what he called a “mild” recession might appear.

Solano County continues to see economic improvement, though that improvement can be slow. Eyler noted that 60 percent of August home sales in the county were distressed sales. Still, that compares to 71 percent a year ago.

“It’s not that low, but you’ve got to try to make lemonade out of lemons,” he said.

Eyler talked of various strategies Solano County leaders can take to improve the economy. For example, economic growth doesn’t have to come by recruiting a big business with 1,000 employees, he said. It can also come by attracting 1,000 small businesses with a few employees, businesses that have the potential to grow, he said.

Internet technology startup companies are a possibility for Solano County, he said. He noted the county’s location near such assets as UC Davis.

“The key about Solano County is it’s a nice geography for that to happen,” he said.

He stressed that Solano County should look beyond trying to attract certain clusters of businesses, such as life sciences and health care. It should also look at having a cluster’s supply chain located locally.

The event included several other speakers who had what Solano EDC President Sandy Person called “good-news stories.”

Kevin Finger, general manager of the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fairfield, showed a slide saying the local brewery produces 12 main brands. That’s actually up to 20, he said.

“We’re as aggressive as we possibly can be,” he said. “When the company needs something done, we want to be the ones who do it.”

David Fuller of Blu Homes talked of his company’s growth in Vallejo. The company builds prefabricated homes inside of an industrial building on Mare Island.

Blu Homes builds a module each week, he said. It expects that number to triple next year and triple again the following year, he said.

Jack Horn, chief executive officer of Partnership Health Plan of California, said the Fairfield-based nonprofit should grow from 300 employees to 500 employees over the next few years.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or Follow him on Twitter at