Monday, November 11, 2013

Solano's economy looking up

Solano's economy looking up

By Melissa Murphy/
Posted: 11/09/2013 01:01:27 AM PST

Solano County's economy is improving and one sure sign is that housing prices are rebounding, according economic experts who spoke to county business leaders Friday.
During the State of the Solano County Business Climate, hosted by the Business Journal, Robert Eyler, an economics professor at Sonoma State University, told an audience of business and community leaders that housing prices are up.
"Generally speaking, Solano will recover a little bit faster than California," he said, adding that the rebound is driven by construction and services in the county. "We caught a little fire in our housing market."
He said housing prices are expected to rise 6 to 8 percent in 2014.
Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union, said she's not surprised to see that the housing market has improved.
"There is a sense of optimism, but caution," she said. "Most believe that the worst is behind us and it's time to take managed risks."
Eyler said it remains to be seen if Silicon Valley will produce another technology bump to remain No. 1 in the World. He said the United States economy is still feeding off the technology boom from the last decade.
Meanwhile, Eyler said that nationally unemployment will drop to 6.5 percent by the end of 2014, perhaps under 6 percent by the middle of 2015. Housing prices are expected to rise 6 to 8 percent in the country, while inflation will increase 2 percent in California.
A survey conducted by the Business Journal, that garnered 100 responses from local businesses, shows a snap shot in time, said Brad Bollinger, publisher of the North Bay Business Journal.
The survey results showed that local businesses believe that manufacturing and health care are the top industries in the county. Nearly 65 percent ranked the overall business climate as "very favorable" or "favorable."
Bollinger noted that the survey was finished before the announcement that Genentech is expanding in Vacaville and that Caymus is moving its business to Solano County.
Additionally, about half of the businesses in Solano plan to expand within the county during the next five years, the survey found.
Sandy Person, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, said she's seen improvement as well.
"The past 18 months have been extremely dynamic," she said. "Frankly the past 5 years sucked."
She said other businesses have been in the trenches with them, doing more with less and losing staff.
"You have to want to be in California in order to do business in California," Person said.
Van Ouwerkerk said Travis Credit Union has seen more requests for business loans and increase in lines of credit.
"There have been investments in not just equipment, but people," she said.
Concerns from the audience were voiced about the roll out of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on local businesses.
Eyler said that even though it's still stumbling, he doesn't think it's changing the short or middle terms, but it will have more of an impact on the long term.
"We're going into an experiment together to see how it will impact us," he said.
Follow Staff Writer Melissa Murphy at

Solano business forum sees improving economy

Solano business forum sees improving economy

business climate 11_7_13
From left to right, Rob Eyler, Sonoma State economics professor, Sandy Person, Solano Economic Development Corporation president, Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, Travis Credit Union president and CEO, and Brad Bollinger, North Bay Business Journal publisher, hold a discussion at the Impact Solano conference on the business climate in Solano County Friday at the Hilton Garden Inn. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)
From page A3 | November 09, 2013 | 2 Comments
FAIRFIELD — A Solano County business forum on Friday depicted a local economic outlook that continues to brighten, even if reasons for caution remain.

Look for the United States gross domestic product to grow 2 percent to 2.5 percent in 2014, said Robert Eyler, chairman of the economics department at Sonoma State University. California’s economy is forecast to grow 3.2 percent, he said.

“Generally speaking, Solano County is probably going to grow a little faster than California next year,” Eyler said.

Eyler was among the speakers at the Impact Solano forum produced by the North Bay Business Journal and Solano Economic Development Corp. The morning event took place at the Hilton Garden Inn inside a packed conference room.

Eyler added some caveats for California’s economy. The state is getting less and less business friendly. Technology in Silicon Valley is driving much of the economy, but it’s unknown how much longer this can be the case. The state has tax code issues, he said.

The forum also announced the results of a survey of 100 local businesses.

Forty-three percent of respondents said the business climate will be better in a half-year, 50 percent said it will remain the same and the remainder said it will be worse. Almost 65 percent said the local business climate is friendly.

Travis Credit Union President Patsy Van Ouwerkerk said the credit union is starting to see more requests for business loans. The business market is picking up, though there remains a sense of caution, she said.

Solano Economic Development Corp. Chief Executive Officer Sandy Person said that, even though it’s hard for her not to be enthusiastic, given her personality, the past five years have been lousy.

But she has reasons for enthusiasm these days. She pointed out that the Fairfield industrial vacancy rate has fallen to 5.1 percent, about half of the number a year ago.

Among the projects underway is Buzz Oates of Sacramento building two warehouses on Cordelia Road in Fairfield. Encore Glass is moving its winery supply business into one of the buildings.

“We haven’t seen build to suit or spec in a long time,” Person said. “We’re going to see more than that.”

Roger King, president of the Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association, talked about the wine industry. The local wine scene got a boost with the recent announcement that the owners of Caymus Vineyard of Napa Valley will build a winery on Cordelia Road that could produce 5 million gallons of wine annually.

Caymus will be doing such things in Suisun Valley as packaging juice from its Monterey County vineyards and shipping, King said. He pointed out that the local wine economy extends beyond local vineyards to such enterprises as wine bottle capsule manufacturing.

Genentech recently announced it will add 200 jobs to the 400 jobs already at its Vacaville plant. Jon Reed, vice president and general manager of the local plant, gave a presentation.

Genentech owns 97 acres in Vacaville and 65 acres are developed. There are 10 buildings with 956,000 square feet of space, he said. The plant operates 24 hours a day manufacturing such pharmaceuticals as Herceptin for breast cancer and Rituxan for rheumatoid arthritis.

The company has two cell culture plants at the Vacaville site. The latest was built in 2007 and decommissioned in 2010 because of too much supply. The announcement in October that this second cell culture manufacturing plant is reopening led to the 200 hires.

Rituxan will be the first product to be produced there, Reed said.

Person asked Reed if Genentech is having trouble finding 200 people to hire. Reed said no, that Genentech as received “tons” of resumes and is conducting about 150 interviews a week.

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Genentech expansion to add 200 jobs

Genentech expansion to add 200 jobs

By Melissa Murphy/
Posted: 10/15/2013 01:01:24 AM PDT

Biotechnology giant Genentech Inc. announced it will invest $153 million in its Vacaville location as part of expanding its manufacturing facility.

A press release issued by Genentech on Monday said that the expansion will involve a re-open and upgrade of the facility, and will create approximately 200 jobs, including more than 100 skilled technicians, scientists, engineers and quality professionals by the end of 2014. Hiring will start in late 2013.

With the expansion, Vacaville will be the largest producer of biologic substances for Genentech and Roche and the biggest biotech facility in the world, according to the company.

It's great news for Vacaville, said City Manager Laura Kuhn.

"It's fabulous," she said. "It's one of our larger employers with high-wage jobs. It's better for our community."

She said there will be some permits needed for the upgrade, but that the company is using an existing part of the building that sits at the corner of Vaca Valley Parkway and Interstate 505.

Kuhn said Solano Community College is looking to expand classes for the biotech industry at its Vacaville location, which is right across the street from Genentech.

"It's exciting," she said. "The city is thrilled. We've built a great bond with Genentech and we work well together."

Solano Economic Development Corp. President Sandy Person said the news is also great for Solano County.

"It's a very cool thing and great news for Vacaville and Solano County," she said. "It's a real boon for Solano County's biotech cluster."

She added that, coming out of a recession, there is momentum in the housing and business industries.

"We are well poised to reap the benefits of new activities and investments," she said.

Genentech also is expanding in Southern California.

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, will invest another $132 million at its manufacturing facility in Oceanside.

The company currently employs approximately 10,000 people in the state. The expansions will add 250 jobs at the facilities during the next four years, bringing the total number of Genentech manufacturing jobs in California to close to 3,000, according to the press release.

"California has always had an impressive skilled workforce that has allowed Genentech to hire diverse and talented individuals in various disciplines," Ian Clark, chief executive officer of Genentech, said in the press release. "In recent years, California has made great strides toward improving the business environment for life sciences innovation and incentivizing manufacturing. We are committed to working with the state to continue this positive progress and make California an even better place to grow the industry."

Genentech's U.S. manufacturing network spans three locations in California -- South San Francisco, Vacaville and Oceanside -- and Hillsboro, Ore., producing medicines intended for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Follow Staff Writer Melissa Murphy at

Genentech launches major Vacaville expansion

Genentech launches major Vacaville expansion

By Brad Stanhope
 October 16, 2013 |

VACAVILLE — Genentech is expanding in Vacaville.

The company will spend more than $285 million over the next four years to expand two manufacturing facilities, including Vacaville. It will make the Vacaville plant the largest biotech manufacturing facility in the world.

The company announced the expansion in a press release Sunday night. It will add about 200 new jobs in Vacaville and 50 in Oceanside. Vacaville’s plant currently employs about 400 people.

Robin Snyder, the director of corporate communications for Genentech, said the expansion should start in June 2014 and will be finished by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

“Genentech is the No. 1 maker of cancer medicines in the world and we continue to deliver on our pipeline of first-in-class and best-in-class medicines,” Snyder wrote in an email to the Daily Republic. “We have received FDA approval of five new medicines in the past three years.”

Sandy Person, president of the Solano Economic Development Corp, called the announcement great news for the county and Vacaville.

“Genentech has long been one of Solano County’s premier life science companies,” she said. “Its growth is an important piece to our economy and our life science cluster.”

“We’ve definitely turned the corner on the economy,” Person said. “The Great Recession was painful and it lasted too long.”

The company is a member of the Solano Economic Development Corp., Person said.

“We’ve been working with Genentech to provide any resources we could,” she said.

The new positions will range from technicians to scientists and engineers, according to the Genentech press release.

“California has always had an impressive skilled workforce that has allowed Genentech to hire diverse and talented individuals in various disciplines,” said Ian Clark, Genentech’s chief executive officer, in the press release.

Snyder said that the decision to expand now was due to a growing demand for Genentech’s products.

“As a network, we’ve been operating at maximum capacity,” Snyder wrote. “These investments will allow us to ensure reliable supply of or currently marketed medicines, as well as to deliver on our industry-leading pipeline.”

The news is particularly good in that it comes less than a week after Merck, a pharmaceutical rival, announced plans to lay off 8,500 employees and cut $2.5 billion in costs over the next two years.

It’s the second bit of good news for Vacaville in a week – after Thursday’s announcement that Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center received approval to become Solano County’s lone Level II trauma center.

Genentech has three locations in California – Vacaville, South San Francisco and Oceanside – and one in Hillsboro, Ore. There are about 10,000 Genentech employees in California, with 3,000 of them manufacturing jobs.

The California facilities produce medicines for a range of diseases including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Biologic medicines are among those manufactured in Vacaville. Biologic medicines are large molecules that are created by biological processes, rather than being chemically synthesized, according to the press release. They are typically administered via injection or intravenously.

Genentech is a member of the Roche Group. It was founded more than 35 years ago and its Vacaville plant became fully functional in 1999.

Person of the Solano Economic Development Corp. said life science got a lot of its start in the San Francisco Bay Area in part because of the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of California, San Francisco and the University of California, Davis.

Taking a biotech drug to market requires infrastructure for manufacturing and Solano County has the needed workforce, water and land, Person said.

“We kind of sit at the center of the Northern California megaregion,” she said.

Genentech company headquarters are in South San Francisco. Its website is

Ryan McCarthy contributed to this report. Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or Follow him on Twitter at

Monday, October 7, 2013

S.T. Johnson Co. joins Fairfield manufacturing hub

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas
October 06, 2013

The recruitment of manufacturing companies remains a high-priority target for local economic development efforts and is a critical engine of economic growth.

Manufacturing is certainly visible in Fairfield, with major companies like Anheuser-Busch, Clorox and Ball employing hundreds of people and contributing significantly to the local economy. Fairfield offers a central location, available water and sewer capacity and a diverse stock of modern yet affordable industrial space.

At a recent county planners’ “brown bag” lunch, Sandy Person, executive director of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, said, “Manufacturers are a catalyst for innovation and economic growth. A manufacturing company not only employs its own workers but can attract other companies which provide local employment, including suppliers, marketing firms and distributors. Manufacturers also add value to the local property tax base and contribute sales tax revenues.”

It is always good news when a manufacturer decides to locate a facility in Fairfield.

S.T. Johnson Company, an Oakland-based company,has announced plans to move into a facility at 5160 Fulton Drive. S.T. Johnson Company designs and manufactures burners for industrial and commercial plants, boiler management controls, burner modernization controls and fuel handling systems.

Economic Notes spoke with Barbara Florio, controller for the company, about their plans.

Economic Notes: Please tell our readers a little bit about S.T. Johnson and the company’s history.

Barbara Florio: S.T. Johnson Company is an industry leader in providing reliable and innovative combustion solutions to industrial and commercial users. S.T. Johnson Company was founded in San Francisco in 1903 as a burner manufacturer and fuel oil distributor. The company rose to prominence in the 1920s with the advent of the Johnson rotary burner, which was famous for its simplicity, reliability and durable design. Today we continue a tradition of innovation and excellence that produces a modern array of both packaged and engineered combustion systems that lead the industry in quality, reliability and pollution control.

EN: What made you choose Fairfield for your new location?

Florio: Fairfield is centrally located between the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento markets, which is a well-positioned location for our business.

EN: Will there be other operations occurring in the Fairfield facility in addition to manufacturing? Is there room for expansion in Fairfield?

Florio: We are leaving Oakland and consolidating all operations in Fairfield, including engineering and manufacturing. The Fulton Drive facility has plenty of room for expansion in all areas of our operation.

EN: How many people do you anticipate employing in Fairfield? When will the Fairfield facility be up and running?

Florio: We expect to be fully up and running within a few weeks. I can’t predict numbers, but it is safe to say there will be numerous employment opportunities in the coming months and years.

S. T. Johnson joins a diverse roster of manufacturing companies that call Fairfield home.

Fairfield is of course known for the cluster of food- and beverage-related businesses, including breweries, specialty foods and food packaging. Fairfield is also continuing to attract companies that provide specialized equipment and tools to regional, national and international industry.

This kind of high technology and innovative industry is the wave of the future as these companies can support the high-tech industry in the central Bay Area, while our food and beverage companies take advantage of the agriculture bounty of inland California.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. Reach them at 428-7461 or email at or

Monday, September 30, 2013

Editorial: ICON could kick-start economic revival in Vacaville

Published by The Reporter
Posted: 09/29/2013 01:02:05 AM PDT
Vacaville City Council members didn't hesitate Tuesday night, unanimously signing off on an agreement to share future tax revenue with ICON Aircraft in exchange for the Los Angeles-based company relocating to the industrial park on the back side of Nut Tree Airport.
Councilmembers might be forgiven for not asking a single question about the deal. This was, after all, the culmination of more than two years of wooing ICON here. If councilmembers weren't personally involved, they certainly were kept up to date on what was being considered.
But members of the public who haven't been following every twist and turn of negotiations might be wondering what the city is giving up, why it is doing so and what it expects to receive in return.
Let's start with the why: Bringing ICON Aircraft to Vacaville could be a boon to the city, the county and the entire state.
ICON is a start-up company that is preparing to enter the light sport aircraft market that opened up in 2004 after the FAA adopted a new category of licensing for recreational pilots. Sport pilots are allowed to fly only during the day, in good weather and in uncontrolled airspace. The aircraft they are allowed to operate must be smaller, slower and less complicated than a regular airplane.
Enter ICON's A5, a completely portable two-seater that runs on gasoline and which can take off and land on water, turf or runways. It takes only two weeks to earn the license to fly it and even though it's pricey -- currently about $180,000 each -- potential customers are already lined up.
ICON is looking not only for space to build and sell its product, but also a place where it can teach customers how to fly it.
Almost three years ago, the company began a national search for just the right place. In California, the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) put out the word, which reached the ears of Sandy Person, director of the Solano Economic Development Corp., who brought it to Vacaville's attention. That started the courtship.
Ultimately, ICON identified an industrial building on Beechcraft Road as one of its top three sites. The other two are in Arizona and Texas, both of which may have an advantage over Vacaville when it comes to the costs of starting businesses there. That's one reason the city feels the need to sweeten the deal by offering ICON incentives to come here.
The other reason is that a business like ICON is a gift that keeps on giving. A company whose product sells for the price of a modest home generates a lot of sales and property taxes. But that's not all. ICON's business plan calls for it to employ as many as 500 people, who would be paid much better than minimum wage. Those employees are likely to live and shop in Vacaville, generating more tax revenue for the city, the county and the state.
Asa start-up, ICON will be in the market for raw materials, which could encourage even more new businesses to form to supply them. Those businesses, in turn, would hire more workers and generate more tax revenue.
In addition, as a training site, ICON will need access to hotels and restaurants to house and feed clients -- again, creating more jobs and tax revenue.
Added together, ICON could generate up to 850 jobs and add $364.5 million for the region's economy, of which Vacaville stands to reap $1 million in new taxes, according to an economic impact report by economist Robert Eyler.
A few years ago, before the state disbanded redevelopment agencies, Vacaville might have been able to offer ICON a rebate on its property taxes to come here, as it did for Genentech. But, as City Manager Laura Kuhn told the council on Tuesday, "In a post-redevelopment world, we have to be very creative."
To her credit, City Manager Kuhn has creatively negotiated a deal that won't cost the city a dime if ICON fails as a business. If it succeeds, however, the company stands to be rebated a portion of the sales tax it generates. During the first two years, ICON's share of that rebate is 50 percent. In years 3 through 10, the rebate ranges from 30 percent to 75 percent, depending on the number of people ICON employs at an annual salary of $40,000 or more.
In addition, for every hotel room booked by ICON, the city will split with the company the Transient Occupancy Tax it collects on those transactions.
The city should be able to afford the rebates, Ms. Kuhn says, because if ICON is successful, the tax revenue from the additional business it will generate throughout the city will cover the cost of providing city services to it.
Vacaville isn't the only public entity that stands to gain from bringing ICON here. For more than two decades, the city and Solano County have recognized that Nut Tree Airport is an underused asset. ICON's presence there would change that in a hurry.
Solano Community College's aviation program at the airport also stands to gain. Not only might its graduates find work at ICON, but the college is prepared to offer training for ICON employees.
And if ICON chooses Vacaville, California stands to gain some much-needed bragging rights over Texas.
It's not a done deal yet, but Vacaville has done what it needed to do to bring a new major employer to the area. Here's hoping it's enough.

PG&E an important partner for community

Letter to the Editor -

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has been an important partner in supporting the creation and retention of jobs in Solano County. Solano County Economic Development Corp. has seen the value of its work and its financial investment in local economic development.

Across the board, PG&E has consistently demonstrated its commitment in many different ways. Its support of our economic development efforts underlines its understanding of how partnerships with community organizations help improve economic vitality.

PG&E has a long history of investing in programs tailored to the communities it serves. Financial contributions, community engagement and volunteerism provided much-needed resources for many community-based nonprofit organizations, schools and nongovernment programs throughout our region. The contributions are entirely funded by the company’s shareholders, and do not affect rates for electricity or gas.

There is too often a misunderstanding of what it takes to attract new firms to bring new jobs to Solano County. One key factor is having the private sector, including the local utility provider, work in concert with government. PG&E has been integral in creating a collaborative environment that protects and retains existing businesses, service industries and manufacturing facilities.

PG&E understands that a vibrant community is one supported by healthy businesses and industry that provide for today’s workers and community, while setting the stage for growth well into the 21st century.

Therefore, as the California Public Utilities Commission considers a fine of PG&E for pipeline safety, it reasonably addresses the issue, but avoids crippling the company. PG&E has and must be able to continue as an effective partner in our economic development activities.

Sandy Person
President, Solano Economic Development Corp.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vacaville council approves agreement with aircraft maker ICON

Vacaville council approves agreement with aircraft maker ICON

From page A9 | September 25, 2013 | Leave Comment
VACAVILLE — The city of Vacaville has done everything it can now to woo light aircraft maker ICON.
With a 5-0 voice vote, the city council approved an agreement with ICON that would provide the company with tax incentives if it chooses to build its offices and manufacturing facility at the Nut Tree Airport.

City manager Laura Kuhn outlined the agreement she hammered out with ICON representatives, which puts the city in a position of near-zero risk.

Part of that agreement involves a sales and transient occupancy tax deal with ICON tied to the number of jobs generated at the facility, which will be used to build the company’s A5 sport light aircraft.

Kuhn said the 10-year agreement calls for a rebate on sales tax generated by ICON up to 50 percent for the first two years as an incentive for ICON to get the facility up and running.

After the two years, the rebate is tied to jobs with salaries averaging $40,000 per year

Up to 75 percent of the sales tax could be rebated, after the city receives its sales tax revenues from the state, if 500 full-time equivalent jobs are achieved. If job generation is less, the rebate is reduced.
The evaluation of jobs and rebate payments would be quarterly as the city receives its sales tax reports.

On the TOT, or hotel taxes, the city would also refund 50 percent of the ICON-generated TOT taxes, using a special promotion code to track the money generated by the manufacturer’s customers and business associates.

The agreement is for 10 years and is automatically renewed for another decade if the 500 jobs are achieved.

Kuhn and the council called the agreement a milestone.

“In a post-redevelopment world, we have to be really creative,” Kuhn said.

The council lauded Kuhn for her negotiating skills and her efforts to see the project through.

“These kinds of things don’t happen without collaboration,” said councilman Curtis Hunt.

There’s more work to be done, but the city is ready if ICON chooses Vcaville as its new home.

“The next step is we’ve got to work with the county, and get to an agreement with the county and then we’ve got some approvals to work through with local landowners and the (Federal Aviation Administration),” said Kirk Hawkins, ICON founder and CEO. “A few more hurdles to get through, but this was a big one.”

There’s no definite timeline, for a decision.

“We expect in the next several months to have a decision, to be able to make a public announcement at some point, which way that is,” Hawkins said. “While we’re not ready to celebrate just yet, we’ll celebrate this milestone.”

Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or Follow him on Twitter at

Vacaville could land aircraft firm

Vacaville could land aircraft firm

By Kimberly K. Fu/
Posted: 09/25/2013 01:01:01 AM PDT

With a cheer Tuesday, Vacaville leaders moved a step closer to bringing a high-tech aircraft production and sales business to the city.In a unanimous vote, the City Council approved a final agreement between the city and Southern California-based ICON Aircraft Inc., which has proposed the construction of a multimillion-dollar facility adjacent to the Nut Tree Airport."This really, truly is a significant moment in the history of the city of Vacaville," said Vice Mayor Dilenna Harris. "This is going to be fantastic and I just can't wait."Councilman Curtis Hunt agreed."This truly is a milestone for Vacaville," he said. "Five hundred jobs, potentially, a $10 million dollar facility. ... We are all so very excited about this.

"The city has been working for two years with ICON Aircraft, in partnership with the state, the county, the Solano Economic Development Corporation and others to reach an agreement that would bring the firm to Vacaville.The current agreement would bring ICON's unique amphibious light sport aircraft, the A5, to Vacaville. ICON officials have said there's a long waiting list for the luxury plane, which means the city would almost immediately begin to reap the benefits of sales tax revenues.

Future plans include a training facility.Other benefits, officials said, would include the generation of 500 or so high-paying jobs and more revenues for the city by way of ICON clients. That includes hotel stays and the frequenting of local eateries and shops by those looking into buying the planes, as well as learning to pilot them.Incentives have been built into the agreement, including sales tax rebates and the sharing of the transient occupancy tax.

City officials emphasize that there's no risk on their part in the agreement, which they described as win-win for the city, as well as the Solano region.Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Solano, assured the community that he would continue to help further the process any way he can."I will continue to put up a fight against Arizona and Texas," he said. "I am in Sacramento fighting on your behalf. ... I'm not going to let go."The matter now rests in the hands of ICON officials, who must choose between three locations to find the home for its headquarters. Arizona and Texas remain in the running.In other matters, the council also unanimously approved the Vanden Meadows development proposed for south Vacaville.

The project is a near-265-acre development to be built west of Leisure Town Road and south of the Southtown community.Plans call for 939 dwellings, a Travis Unified School District school site, neighborhood park, pedestrian trails and more.Council members said they want to scrap plans for apartment dwellings, which the applicant supports and pledged to initiate that process as soon as possible. More discussions are expected about traffic issues and road work.

Follow Staff Writer Kimberly K. Fu at

Monday, July 29, 2013

Wolk brings positive message to Solano

By Robin Miller/
Posted: 07/27/2013 01:01:54 AM PDT

State Senator Lois Wolk, D-Solano, talks with local civic and business leaders following a presentation at the Friday breakfast gathering of the Solano Economic Development Corporation. (Robin Miller/
When it comes to attracting and retaining business and jobs, California doesn't need to take a back seat to Texas and other states anymore.
That was part of the message State Senator Lois Wolk, D-Solano, brought Friday to local business and civic leaders during a Fairfield breakfast gathering of the Solano Economic Development Corporation.
Her message was straight forward: "The outlook (for California and Solano County) is tremendously positive."
Noting declines in unemployment rates, increases in the numbers of jobs created in the past year, and movement on important issues in Sacramento, Wolk said there are still challenges ahead but added that it was "wonderful to be here with some good news."
Of particular importance, she noted, was the passage of AB 93, an economic package that provides some tax exemptions for manufacturers on purchases of equipment and materials.
"For years we have heard that the barrier to expansion of business in California is that we have no sales tax exemption (for manufacturers) like every other state," Wolk said. "The argument is that equipment and materials should be exempt because the output, or product, they make is also taxed, so they are double taxed. AB 93 allows for the exemption for manufacturing processing businesses."
Governor Jerry Brown, she noted, referred to the tax exemption as his "Texas option," a comment that brought more than a few chuckles from the audience.
The exemption, she noted, are offered through a competitive process, with a select committee of the governor's awarding the credits of up to $2 million.
The plan may already be lined up to help Vacaville, as the exemptions could apply to an aircraft manufacturing firm currently negotiating to locate near the Nut Tree Airport.
ICON Aircraft Inc. of Los Angeles wants to establish a facility to build light recreational aircraft on land adjacent to the airport in Vacaville. "So much for Texas," Wolk quipped.
Wolk also talked to the group about the ongoing battle over the Delta, vowing to continue to fight for "real" quality controls that will benefit the region
And on education, she thanked voters for approving Proposition 30, providing funding for schools but added that more will need to be done in the future and that education remains a priority.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

About Manex

The Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence (Manex), a private non-profit corporation, was established in 1995 to provide services to small and mid-size manufacturers in Northern California. Manex operates through a cooperative agreement between the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), under the Department of Commerce.

Manex has evolved as manufacturing needs have grown in Northern California. Our vision mandates that we address the total organization, and as a result our role as strategic advisors includes:
  • Strategic Planning
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Product Development and Innovation
  • Workforce Development
  • Sustainability
  • Supply Chain Development
  • Export Assistance
  • Technology Transfer Utilizing area Labs and Universities
  • Connecting Manufacturers with Private and Public Resources
  • Working directly with the State, Counties and Cities to promote Economic Development in Manufacturing, Fabrication, R&D, as well as Food and Beverage Processing

The Manex team brings an average of 20 years private industry experience to provide a powerful depth and breadth of business know-how. We are recognized for our strategic, enterprise-level expertise and extensive front-line manufacturing and distribution experience. Our client case studies and success stories are well documented. Independent quarterly client surveys ensure full accountability and a performance scorecard of certified value for our customers.
With our roots in manufacturing, our active participation in MEP and a longstanding dedication to knowledge transfer and implementation, we have a continued commitment to develop and deliver services that help you thrive in a globally competitive environment.

For more information about our company, please view our corporate brochure (PDF) or our website.

East Bay Broadband Consortium

The East Bay Broadband Consortium (EBBC) is an East Bay regional initiative organized to improve broadband deployment, access, and adoption in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties through a collaborative regional approach.
Broadband – high speed Internet – is a critical 21st century infrastructure that is a key enabling technology for:
  • Economic competitiveness
  • Public health and safety
  • Sustainable Communities
  • The Smart Grid
  • Access to information and services delivered through broadband applications and technologies
Basic digital literacy skills are virtually essential to every aspect of the 21st century economy. Yet infrastructure and access gaps are present in the East Bay, resulting in a persistent “Digital Divide.”
EBBC was formed to close these gaps and advance the region as a center of innovation for advanced communications technologies, leveraging the region’s deep knowledge assets. The EBBC Action Plan will identify and leverage opportunities aimed at increasing:
  1. The region’s broadband infrastructure investments (public and privately financed).
  2. Affordable access to broadband technologies.
  3. Wide adoption of broadband to acquire the benefits of these technologies.
The EBBC vision is to make the three-county East Bay the nation’s leading broadband enabled region in the nation.

For more information, visit the initiative website:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Solano EDC breakfast focuses on children

From page A3 | May 30, 2013 |        
FAIRFIELD — First 5 Solano made a pitch to the business community Wednesday concerning the county’s youth.

The group hosted the Solano Economic Development Corp. breakfast. It asked businesses and individuals to sponsor sending children to pre-kindergarten academies this summer.

“Today, our goal is really to pique your interest and get your commitment on behalf of Solano County’s youngest citizens,” Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert told the gathering at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Solano County will have 16 academies this summer, hosted by school district and youth program providers, for 450 children. The academies are for children who have not attended preschool and who will start kindergarten this fall.

Businesses and individuals can sponsor a child for a pre-kindergarten academy for $200. First 5 Solano will match the amount.Go to or call 784-1338 for more information.

District Attorney Don du Bain and county Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck made the case that what happens in early childhood education is important for the entire community.

Du Bain told the audience that high school dropouts are eight times more likely to end up in jail or prison as are youths who stay in school.

Dropout rates in the country range from 2 percent for the Travis School District to 9 percent for the Fairfield-Suisun School District to 35 percent for Vallejo City Schools, he said. That means one out of every three Vallejo youths are in that high-risk category for jail or prison.

“You can imagine the problems that creates for the city of Vallejo,” du Bain said.

Finally, du Bain talked about efforts to reduce truancy, such as a truancy court that has worked with 55 parents since its inception in October 2011. The goal is to get the parents’ attention rather than to prosecute them, he said.

“Truancy affects crime,” du Bain said. “My goal is not just about reducing truancy, but about crime prevention.”

He outlined a strategy to deal with such challenges – supportive parenting, preschool and after-school programs.

Du Bain gave an example of a supportive parenting program. He talked about Solano County’s nurse-family partnership, which has nurses work with low-income, first-time mothers on health and parenting issues.

Speck talked about the importance of children simply being at school. Sixty-four percent of children with good attendance in kindergarten and first grade read at grade level in third grade, he said.

“Chronic absence is an indicator we need to pay attention to,” Speck said.

California defines “chronically absent” as missing 10 percent or more of the school year. Speck said about 5,000 Solano County children fall into this category.

“Kids who are not ready, they are already on the path to dropping out or failure,” Speck said.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s work force, Solano Economic Development Corp. President Sandy Person said. The issues discussed at the breakfast involve a “critical economic benefit” for the county, she said.

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

Solano County leaders see link between crime, dropout rates

Posted: 05/30/2013 01:31:14 AM PDT

One Solano County leader noted that 5,000 Solano County public school students have been identified as chronically absent. Another noted that 75 percent of habitual truants will drop out of school, and some two-thirds of U.S. prison inmates are school dropouts. And still another leader said 50 percent of all Solano 5-year-olds receive no preschool instruction before reaching kindergarten.
Jay Speck, superintendent of the County Office of Education, District Attorney Don du Bain and Supervisor Linda Siefert made persuasive links between the importance of early childhood education, regular school attendance, truancy, dropout rates and crime during a Tuesday breakfast meeting in Fairfield, sponsored by Solano Economic Development Corporation.
Their remarks come at a time when California's high school graduation rate rose sharply last year, to 80 percent, with Latino and black students showing gains higher than those of white and Asian students. Still, the state is ranked 39th out of 50 states in graduation rates, and it ranks 49th, down from 47th in the past year, in per-pupil spending, according to Ed Source, an independent online forum that seeks to clarify education issues.
An educator for nearly 40 years, Speck, speaking briefly to some 250 people gathered in the Hilton Hotel, suggested that signs a student may drop out surface before the child reaches high school.
Important factors leading to dropout rates, he noted, using computer-aided slides, are school readiness, being able to read proficiently by third grade, making progress toward graduation, student engagement and attendance.
The lead architect of "Every Minute Matters," a program designed to stem chronic absenteeism, beginning in the primary grades, Speck noted that absences -- whether excused, unexcused or due to suspension -- stymie a student's ability to succeed, and chronic absenteeism, defined as a student who misses 18 or more days of school, or more than one-tenth of the year, is a harbinger for trouble.
In the past year, the SCOE has begun tracking chronic absenteeism, and research shows that 5,000 Solano students, or 9 percent, are defined as chronically absent, he said.
Nearly 80 percent of children in the juvenile justice system are classified as chronically absent, said Speck, who dispelled some myths about root causes of absenteeism, among them "missing school has no impact" on a student as long as the schoolwork is made up; and it is acceptable "as long as parents give permission."
To battle chronic absenteeism, he noted that SCOE has made some headway. Specifically, it has begun tracking data -- at school sites and even to particular teachers -- supporting families in truancy court; distributing "tool kits" about the consequences of chronic absenteeism, and making public service announcements.
Du Bain, in his remarks, noted that two-thirds of U.S. prison inmates are high school dropouts; compared the state's overall dropout rates to Solano's, 13 percent to 16 percent, respectively; then detailed the dropout rates among the county's major school districts: Travis (2 percent), Benicia (3 percent), Vacaville and Fairfield-Suisun (9 percent); Dixon (14 percent), and Vallejo (35 percent).
"One out of three kids are dropping out of high school in Vallejo," said du Bain, then asked the audience to guess how much dropouts cost California taxpayers every year. The answer: $46 billion.
"Truancy affects crime" rates, he said, adding that supportive parenting -- or lack of it -- before children reach 3 1/2 years of age is "a predictor of high school graduation."
Du Bain also cited the importance of nurse-family partnerships, preschool, and the presence of Boys & Girls Clubs in low-income neighborhoods as ways to cut the truancy and crime rates.
As many as 75 percent of habitual truants eventually will drop out of school, he said.
Siefert, just before recognizing a host of Pre-K Business Champion Award honorees, called the statistics "pretty alarming."
More than half of all Solano children never step into a preschool class, she noted, then made a reference to First 5 Solano, an innovative program and services to help young children grow up healthy and do well in school and life.
The demand for pre-kindergarten instruction in Solano has risen recently, Siefert noted, from 200 to 400 children countywide.
Follow Staff Writer Richard Bammer at

Thursday, May 2, 2013


May 2, 2013 (707) 399-2445 

National Travel and Tourism Week, May 4-12, 2013

FAIRFIELD, CA – In recognition of travel and tourism’s significant economic, social and cultural impact in Fairfield, the Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau is joining the rest of the nation in observance of National Travel and Tourism Week, May 4-12, 2013.

“This national observance provides us an opportunity to truly appreciate what Fairfield and the SuisunValley has to offer leisure travelers, small conferences and meetings, and tour groups. Attractions that set us apart from other destinations includes Suisun Valley wineries and the Western Railway Museum, Jelly Belly and Anheuser-Busch Brewery tours, plus wildlife viewing and nature hikes at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area and Solano Land Trust open spaces,” said Anand Patel, President/CEO, Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau. “It’s also a time to recognize what tourism means for us in terms of jobs and much needed revenues for local businesses,” added Patel.

Highlights of SolanoCounty and Fairfield tourism:

· Tourism generates $583 million in travel expenditures, resulting in an estimated $36.8 million in state and local tax revenues.

· Tourism employs 6,930 SolanoCounty residents, representing a payroll of $156.9 million.

 · Fairfield collected more than $1.7 million in transient occupancy tax (TOT) in 2012.

The Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau is a destination marketing organization that was created by a Business Improvement District (BID) to market and promote tourism to the area, including overnight stays. The independent non-profit 501C6 organization is funded by 18 lodging properties in Fairfield.

For more information about Fairfield tourism, call the Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau at (707) 399-2445 or visit You can also follow Fairfield on Facebook at

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Solano EDC gets role in diversification project

Published by The Reporter
Posted: 04/17/2013 01:05:51 AM PDT

The Solano Economic Development Corp. is now part of a consulting team created to conduct an economic diversification project.
The project will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the economic impact of Travis Air Force Base on Solano County and recommend ways that the public and private sectors could further diversify the local economy.
Last month, the Solano County Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Economic & Planning Systems (EPS) to conduct the project, which is funded by the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA), a field agency of the Department of Defense.
The board also asked that Solano EDC play an integral part.
Economic & Planning Systems, according to county staff, has retained the Solano EDC as a sub-consultant to assist in the public engagement process and to provide review and comment on the draft report.
"The inclusion of the Solano EDC into the project team capitalizes on the Solano EDC's vast array of relationships with virtually every segment of the Solano County community," county staff said.
The Solano EDC has facilitated past economic studies funded by the county, including the Index of Economic and Community Progress and industry cluster analyses on energy, life science and the food chain. Additionally, Solano EDC played a major role in applying for the OEA grant by initiating the local inquiry to determine if Solano County was eligible for it.
The sub-consultant agreement with Solano EDC is for an amount not to exceed $20,000. This contract modification reduces the project contingency amount to $13,860.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Economist: Solano out of recession yet faces regional challenges

Economist says job training needed

By Gary Quackenbush, Special to the Business Journal
FAIRFIELD — Solano County is enjoying a resurgence in jobs and taxable sales, but high home foreclosure rates and indications of job importation are among regional improvements needed for the local economy fully to rebound, an economist said Thursday.

Sandy Person and Robert Eyler
Sandy Person and Robert Eyler

“Solano County is continuing to recover, evidenced by the rise in job growth since 2010,” Robert Eyler, Ph.D., said of the newly released 2012 Solano County Index of Economic and Community Progress. “At the same time, taxable sales are up, which is also true across California, but employment is not keeping pace with the size of the available labor force. Nonemployer growth indicates that small businesses are back in the game.”

Local employment hit bottom in 2010, according to Dr. Eyler of Petaluma-based Economics and Analysis and Sonoma State University. Since 2010, private industry in Solano has added back 4,200 jobs, but government cut 1,333 jobs.

“The net effect of these current (national government) revenue issues on local city budgets has yet to be seen, but federal and state reactions to these budget issues will take some toll,” he said.

“Nonemployers” — typically, the self-employed — numbered 20,689 in 2010, up from 20,544 in 2009 but down from 21,730 in 2007 and back to the same level as in 2008, according to the latest Census Bureau data compiled from tax returns.

The county of Solano released the 2012 index last week (, and it was the framework for Dr. Eyler’s keynote analysis at a morning briefing sponsored by Solano Economic Development Corporation.

The index points to signs of economic recovery, while other indicators are still reeling from the recession six years ago, according to Sandy Person, SEDCorp president.

Economic progress in Solano is based on the synchronization financial, labor and goods and services markets, according to Dr. Eyler.

“In Solano County, there is growth in the region now after lags caused by labor, income and housing issues,” he said. “This push-and-pull cycle is affecting California overall. Foreclosure rates in Solano are still relatively high.”

While Solano is emerging from recession, it still faces regional challenges, Dr. Eyler said.

“Community progress is based on specific changes in population and demography, education, health care, housing and government resources,” he said. “These factors are naturally linked.”

An aging population is pressuring labor and housing, with home downsizing helping only certain industries, he noted.

“Aging is a significant issue in Solano as well as California,” Dr. Eyler said. “Standard-of-living changes affect the aging and lower-income populations in the county. What happens if California becomes a retirement state?”

Fewer local options for workers implies more labor is being imported, while some residents have to look for employment outside the county, he observed. As the region continues to export products and import labor, this trend is affecting local housing markets — resulting in the median home price falling to more affordable levels.

“There is a jobs and skills mismatch, and the breach is getting wider,” Dr. Eyler said. “The challenge is reconsidering how we educate people for higher-paying jobs.”

Solano County jobs vs job growth - January 2000-January 2013
Solano County jobs vs job growth, January 2003–January 2013 (click to enlarge)

From 2000 to 2012, Solano County had a net gain of 4,367 jobs within local firms, along with a 28.3 percent increase in the gross domestic product and a 3.6 percent per capita income increase, according to the 2012 index report. But median household income declined 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2012.

The number of unemployed in the county more than doubled since 2000. The worst of the decline occurred in the peak recession years — 2006–2010 — due to the local housing market collapse, and when local firms cut 12,000 jobs and private industry GDP shrank by 4 percent.

During this period, per-capita income declined 6.8 percent, taxable sales and assessed property values fell by a quarter, and foreclosure figures were breaking records, according to the report.

In December, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Solano dropped to 9.6 percent, down from 12.2 percent in December 2010, resulting in 7,050 more residents employed. Overall, 5.8 percent more Solano residents were employed in 2012 than in 2000, and over the last year the county added nearly 2,800 more.

Solano had bright spots amid recession. Seven local industry sectors had GDP growth, and five experienced job gains. Health care dominated GDP and job growth.

Remaining local challenges threaten the economy, Dr. Eyler said. For example, foreclosure rates aren’t dropping as quickly as most would like.

“There is also a need to provide a pipeline for new workers,” Dr. Eyler said. “The education data point on the trend toward more imported labor indicates a need for better job training.”

Though the Solano high school dropout rate has edged downward, so too, has the local proportion eligible to attend University of Southern California and University of California compared with statewide figures, he noted.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Economy improving a bit in Solano County

By Reporter Staff
Posted: 03/22/2013 01:06:01 AM PDT

Solano County is showing some positive signs of economic recovery but still finds some areas reeling from the financial turmoil of the last six years, according to a report released Thursday.
The 2012 Index of Economic and Community Progress, which will be the subject of next week's Solano Economic Development Corp. gathering, includes an analysis by Robert Eyler of Economic Forensics and Analytics.
"Once again, there are trend lines for Solano County that are starting to point in the right direction," said Sandy Person, president of the Solano EDC. "Not everything is moving in the right direction just yet, but it appears most of the indicators have stopped going in the wrong direction. It's a start of a recovery that we can capitalize on."
The 2012 Index examines local economic condition from three perspectives. The long view goes from 2000 to 2012, which compares the end of the 1990s cycle to the recent recovery. The recession view goes from 2006 (the peak year) to 2010 (the bottom year) in the local employment market. The recovery view represents changes since 2010.
Over the long view, Solano County had a net gain of 4,367 jobs from firms located in the county, a 28.3 percent increase in the gross domestic product, a 3.6 percent increase in the per capita income and a 9.7 percent decline in median household income. While Solano County has been better than the Bay Area, the Sacramento region and the rest of the state in retaining local jobs, the number of residents seeking employment grew faster than the troubled regional economy could support. The number of unemployed people in 2012 has more than doubled since 2000.
The somberness of the long view happened primarily between 2006 and 2010. As a result of the local housing market collapse and the Great Recession, local firms shed 12,000 jobs and the gross domestic product from private industry shrank 4 percent. Per capita income declined 6.8 percent, taxable sales and assessed property values declined nearly 25 percent and quarterly foreclosure figures were breaking annual records, the report found.
The recession view held some bright spots. Between 2006 and 2010, seven local industry sectors showed growth in gross domestic product and five experienced gains in jobs. Health care dominated the growth in both GDP and local job gains, the report noted.
Local industry employment hit bottom in 2010. Since then, Solano's private industries have added back 4,200 jobs, but the gains were offset by government sector declines of 1,133 jobs. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Solano County dropped to 9.6 percent in December 2012, down from 12.2 percent in December 2010. That translates to 7,050 more residents employed.
"Supervisor Mike Reagan and I pushed for the Index to give us a better perspective on what is happening in the economy and what we can do collectively to move the economy forward," said Supervisor John Vasquez. "In cooperation with the Solano EDC, the county is building the internal capacity to monitor, analyze and report the key indicators shaping our local economy."
The complete 2012 Index is available online at Past indexes and analyses of the life science, energy and food chain clusters in Solano County are also available on the website.
Thursday's Solano EDC gathering will include a presentation on the report by Eyler. The Solano EDC breakfast starts with registration and networking at 7:30 a.m., with the presentation beginning at 8, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Fairfield. Cost is $25 for members, $35 for non-members. To register or obtain more information, contact Solano EDC at 864-1855.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Assembly members address Solano business, community leaders

From page A3 | February 23, 2013 | Leave Comment

FAIRFIELD — Solano County’s representatives in the state Assembly are getting ready to work on a state budget without facing financial projections awash in red ink, a change from recent years. 

“We are in different times, perhaps more hopeful times,” Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada said at Friday’s Solano Economic Development Corp. monthly breakfast.

Yamada, D-Davis, Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, each represent a different part of Solano County. They addressed a crowd of local business and civic leaders at the Hilton Garden Inn.

California voters stopped the state’s economic bleeding by passing the Proposition 30 tax increases in November 2012, Yamada said. But, even though the situation looks more hopeful, the Legislature must act with restraint, she said.

“We cannot squander this moment in California’s history,” Yamada said.

Bonilla said that Gov. Jerry Brown would probably like the Legislature to rubber-stamp the proposed budget he has submitted. The Legislature won’t do that, she said. But she did say the Legislature will pass a budget by the June 15 deadline, something that has been a rarity in recent years.

“It’s very important we hear from you in the business community,” said Bonilla, who described the budget as a “tax dollar investment.”

The state in recent years cut about $1 billion from the University of California system and from the California State University system, she said. Now the state can begin filling back in the hole it had to dig, she said.

Bonilla also talked about high school education changes that she would like to see. Students can be bored in classes that fail to reflect the 21st century. Students need to do more than learn how to fill in bubbles on a test, she said.

“Those aren’t the people you want to hire,” Bonilla said. “Last time I looked, that wasn’t on a job description . . .”

Schools need to engage students and educate them to think and solve problems. Students might learn in the context of health care, engineering and the arts, Bonilla said. She also stressed the importance of early childhood education.

Frazier said he has dealt with state regulations as a general contractor. He too has “felt the pain,” he told his audience. He talked about updating the California Environmental Quality Act, a topic that Brown has also mentioned.

An audience member during the question-and-answer session said California overregulates small businesses and called the state Environmental Protection Agency a “rogue agency” that needs to be called to account. None of the Assembly members directly addressed his comments.

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

Three area representatives talk issues at Solano EDC breakfast


By Melissa Murphy/The Reporter, Vacaville

A unique opportunity presented itself Friday morning as three state lawmakers joined local business and government leaders to discuss issues facing Solano County this year.
During the monthly Solano Economic Development Corporation breakfast, Democrat Assembly members Mariko Yamada, Jim Frazier and Susan Bonilla, shared issues that they're working on at the state level.
Bonilla, who now represents District 14 which includes Vallejo and Benicia, said this year is a time to restore voter confidence in government.
She said the passage of Proposition 30 will help do that.
"You put trust in the state government to make wise decisions," Bonilla said. "We're in a critical place right now in building trust so that we can look at moving forward."
Bonilla noted that before the tax measure was passed, money was cut from education to fill the state's deficit. She said some 400,000 fewer students enrolled in community colleges and 30,000 credentialed teachers were laid off.
Yamada, who represents District 4 which includes Dixon, said while her district boundaries moved she still has a "toe in" the county's northern portion and a vested interest in its economic success.
Yamada noted that Gov. Jerry Brown has emphasized the issues surrounding education, health care and the prison system, but argued that a healthy economy is key to any success.
Jim Frazier, who represents District 11, an area that includes most of Solano, said he's really living the dream by representing the district.
Frazier told the room of business people that he has been a general contractor for years.
"I have felt the pain," he said. "I'm at the state to encourage a better business environment."
Frazier said his desire to participate in public service started after his two daughters were on their way to Lake Tahoe in 2000 and one was killed in a crash. He said it was then that he made sure the California Transportation Department revamped that section of road on Highway 50 so that accidents would stop.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Solano Economic Development Corporation has new board of directors chief

Posted: 02/01/2013 01:07:46 AM PST

There are many reasons the Solano Economic Development Corporation can celebrate.

Solano EDC is celebrating its 30th year in existence, it's only the third time in the last decade the organization has ended the year on solid financial footing by being in the black and, to top it off, it's the first time a woman was chosen to chair the board of directors.

Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, with Travis Credit Union, will lead the board this year.

"Being the first woman to be selected as chair is an honor and I am proud of the board's confidence in me," Van Ouwerkerk said. ... "I now join a long list of chairmen whose drive, talent, skills and vision have enabled the Solano EDC to move forward and attract new business to Solano County."

This coming year, she said Solano EDC will be focused on retention and on attracting new businesses. Ouwerkerk said she's looking forward to working with the board to "enhance and leverage existing public and private partnerships and to develop new ones in order to improve the economic vitality of Solano County."

Ouwerkerk was a good choice, according to outgoing chair Scott Reynolds with Gaw Van Male, who chaired the board from 2008-12.

"You're in good hands," he told a packed room of government and business leaders who gathered Thursday for lunch at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield for the first meeting of 2013. "Patsy is a dynamic and visionary leader."

"It's been an honor to serve the last five years," he added.

Solano EDC President Sandy Person said 2012 really kicked off a "new normal."

Her enthusiasm in the afternoon's presentation was contagious as she delivered some of the highlights from the past year.

She shared that the city of Vacaville boasts a 99 percent occupancy rate in its downtown, while trendy national stores are popping up in the Premium Outlets across town.

Additionally, a state-required $150 million expansion project to the city's Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plan is set to finish this year.

Meanwhile, the city of Dixon saw new growth in its business sector with Altec moving into the area. The company builds products and serves the electric utility, telecommunications and contractor markets and added 100 jobs to the area.

Additionally, Viva Market and Dollar Tree both set up shop in Dixon.

Looking at Solano County, Person explained that the agriculture industry continues to grow, and more specifically, in processing.

A new jail expansion at the Claybank Detention Facility and additional windmills at Shiloh IV in the Montezuma Hills adds to the growing economy, she said.

The county has also been awarded a grant of $369,860 to conduct a study on how Solano County can be less reliant on the ever-changing Department of Defense budget, which is connected to Travis Air Force Base.

The base continues to be a driving economic force in Solano County, according to Col. Dwight Sones, who is the commander of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis.

"Thank you for all that you do for Travis and our families," he said to the members of the Solano EDC. "We could not do what we do without your support."

Driving home that Travis is "America's First Choice," Sones shared that the base brings $1.4 billion of positive annual economic impact to the county and generates 5,000 jobs, according to 2011 data. He said he expects the data for 2012 will be very similar.

A new runway and landing zone is nearly finished. The landing zone, Sones said, will be ideal for assault training that airmen currently have to travel out of state to do.

The landing zone also will allow other installations to train.

"It will pay for itself in three years," he said. "If you pave it, they will come."

There is some budget uncertainty this year," he said.

The dynamic economic environment means times are tough and will include trimming down and stopping certain activities for the time being to save money.

The good news, he said, is that Travis has a culture of being efficient and innovative and has been monetarily rewarded and recognized nationally for their efforts to be fuel and energy efficient.

Follow Staff Writer Melissa Murphy at

Sones: Travis tightening its belt, improving facilities

February 1, 2013
FAIRFIELD — Budgets may be tight, but Travis Air Force Base is still more than able to carry out its mission, thanks to the dedication of its airmen and a determination to fill the needs of its service members and their families.

That was the central nugget of the talk Travis commander Col. Dwight Sones gave to the Solano Economic Development Corporation’s 30th annual meeting Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Sones said that the base is tightening its belt for the time being after the Air Force directed all major commands to start a series of cost-saving measures in case Congress allows massive cuts to defense spending, called sequestration, to take place in March and if Congress fails to pass an appropriations bill this fiscal year.

Expenses that are not deemed critical to the mission included cutting supporting flying missions not directly related to readiness, implementing a civilian hiring freeze, deferring repairs and renovations that are not emergencies and canceling all travel that is not mission-essential.

“Some things we will have to stop doing,” Sones said.

Sones described the measures as reversible and recoverable. He also described the situation as a very dynamic environment that could change quickly. Action is required now even though sequestration may not take place in March or may be delayed by federal leaders.

“We still have to deal with it,” Sones said.

Sones pointed out that the Air Force has not instituted anything like furloughs or reductions in force. He also promised those present that as Travis gets more information about the situation and any impacts, “We will keep you in the loop.”

He said Travis has gotten a reputation for stretching its dollars, with the base’s recent monetary awards for increasing its fuel and energy efficiency.

The Travis commander also used the talk to give Solano Economic Development Corporation members an economic snapshot of the base and the construction projects going on there.

Travis has $13.7 billion in assets and facilities, has a $1.4 billion economic impact and its spending generates about 5,000 jobs in the community, according to data from the base’s 2011 Economic Impact Report, which Sones quoted.

“And the 2012 data is expected to be very similar,” Sones said.

Travis still has a lot of construction in the works, even though it is less than in the past, Sones said.
It has seen several projects completed in the past year, such as the $5.4 million cargo-loading facility and the $11.9 million new fire station, as well as present projects such as the $14.5 million fuel-distribution system and the $1.7 million military working-dog facility.

The $70 million runway reconstruction and new assault runway construction is expected to be finished in April. The assault runway will be used for training by Travis aircrews and also by aircrews from other bases, “and that is huge,” Sones said. The savings from not sending aircraft elsewhere to train will allow the runway to pay for itself within three years.

A $22 million first phase of an airmen’s campus housing facility is under construction, with completion expected in January 2014 and the second through fourth phases expected in the next several years.

David Grant Medical Center just started the second phase of its planned improvements in November 2012, with $63 million being spent to improve the emergency room and outpatient facilities. Future improvements include the operating room, women’s clinic, and labor and delivery rooms.

Solano Economic Development Corporation President Sandy Person preceded Sones’ remarks by talking about Solano County’s economic situation. She said “there is a recovery in place” that has seen industrial vacancies in the county drop from 15.1 percent to 13.4 percent while unemployment dropped to 9.3 percent.

Person said that every community in the county has seen improvements with new businesses opening and bringing jobs to the area.

Solano Economic Development Corporation also recently embarked on a study funded by a $369,860 Department of Defense grant to examine and make proposals about better diversifying the county’s economy.

“This is not about shrinking Travis,” Person said. “This is about growing the pie.”

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or Follow him on Twitter at