Monday, January 14, 2013

Solano EDC celebrating 30 years of service

By Melissa Murphy/
Posted: 01/14/2013 01:01:38 AM PST

Through the bumps, twists, turns, dips and unexpected loops, however, one organization stood steadfast, encouraging business owners and employers along the way.

The Solano Economic Development Corporation, known today as Solano EDC, is celebrating it's 30th anniversary of increasing economic activity, entrepreneurship and job generation in Solano County.

"We sit in a global economy and we're not just competing with another county, but other countries," said Sandy Person, president of the Solano EDC.

Person said California is the ninth largest economic engine in the world and Northern California is globally recognized because of that.

"We're situated in the epicenter of that," she said. "It's a significant marketing plus."

Person has been connected to the corporation since the early 1990s when she volunteered on its board of directors. At the same time there was a hit to the residential and real estate markets and it was then that the corporation took an industry focus and had a policy voice instead of focusing so much on the recruitment and marketing as it had done since its inception in 1983.

However, it was the team of Person, who was now president of the organization, and former president Mike Ammann, who joined the corporation in 2003, that allowed Solano County to make a name for itself.

"We were a dynamic force," Person said.

"We recognized that the state didn't have a plan. It has missed the concept of bringing the tools together to build the economy."

"I love this organization and what it represents," she continued. "It's a spirit of partnership and we have the ability to serve the public and private partnership efforts together."

Ammann said he was behind the name change. Initially dubbed SED Corp., he wanted people to know who they were outside of the county, thus it took on the Solano EDC moniker.

"The (nickname) changed, but the tradition on the inside was maintained," he said. "It was our goal to be more market savvy."

He said even a new logo put a dot on the state of California to show where the county sits within the state.

"We wanted to do anything and everything to be identified outside of California," he said.

Ammann said the corporation's influence grew with "Solano's Got It - The best that Northern California has to offer."

Economic summits also helped Solano County market itself as the "heart of the mega region" between Sacramento and San Francisco.

Even though Solano County is part of the nine-county Bay Area region, it was never really part of the North Bay or the East Bay and the differences between the cities of Vallejo and Dixon are so vast, Ammann said, that Solano County was being pulled in many directions.

"We had to come together to see the overall market," he said. "We were in the perfect position to do that. Solano County is in the best location to serve all of Northern California that way. We had to identify and show the unique assets to outsiders."

He said it was initially hard to identify Solano County, especially to the commuters on Interstates 80 or 680 "who didn't realize they're in the county."

The hard work paid off when the biotech industry sprouted in the county.

Ammann said the county marshaled its resources, marketed its tie to the University of California, Davis, Solano Community College and its proximity to other educational institutions in the Bay Area.

Genentech came as did Novartus.

"We exposed Solano County to the opportunities for the biotech industry," he said. "Maybe the industry hasn't met the expectations of the community because of the economy, but there is solid opportunity for future growth. The whole community can be proud we got our arms around the industry."

He said repositioning Solano County, to make it part of both Sacramento and San Francisco was the positive strategy the corporation had to eliminate the "in betweener" reputation.

"As a community we overcame all of that and came together to sell itself," he said.

Ammann, who is now working as the President and CEO of the San Joaquin Partnership, said there have been some big changes during the last 10 years, and the corporation is prepared for new changes moving forward.

Person, who is now president of Solano EDC, said there will be challenges, but working with Solano EDC means the communities can come up with a solution together to tackle those issues.

Looking to the future, the corporation will continue to market and recruit, but it will also develop programs to serve the existing economic base.

"California has unique problems," she said. "But it's time that everyone pitch in and help in difficult financial times. The economic downturns effect bottom lines and the pushing on businesses can be disproportionate. There should be an equal sense of pain."

Still Person is very optimistic.

"You can't find solutions without a positive outlook," she said and added that being the cheerleader is in her DNA. "We have to appreciate the assets we do have and spread the word."

The 30th Annual Meeting of the Solano Economic Development Corporation is at 11:30 a.m., Jan. 31 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield, 2200 Gateway Court in Fairfield.

The cost is $45 per person, $350 for a table of eight. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information or to register, contact Pat Uhrich at 864-1855 or

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