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.

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