Thursday, August 14, 2014

California and Solano County wants businesses to stay

By Melissa Murphy @ReporterMMurphy on Twitter
Posted: 08/13/2014 07:06:44 PM PDT

The state is reaching out to businesses through various tax exemptions to keep them in California.

Patrick McGuire, senior business development specialist for Gov. Jerry Brown and the Office of Business & Economic Development (GO-Biz), stopped by the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce Wednesday morning to share with business leaders that changes have been made for the state to invest in businesses already in California.

"We're helping existing long-term California companies," he said and added that while it might seem that businesses are flocking to outside of the state, businesses are also relocating to California.

GO-Biz services include investment services, permit assistance, international trade and innovation. They're also getting the word out about the Government Economic Development Initiative that provides sales tax exemptions, hiring tax credit and the California Competes tax credit.

California Competes is part of the governor's Economic Development Initiative (GEDI). A total of 396 companies applied and requested more than $500 million in total credits. GO-Biz evaluated the most competitive applications based on the factors required by statute, including total jobs created, total investment, average wage, economic impact, strategic importance and more.

The California Competes Committee approved $28.9 million in tax credits for 29 companies expanding and creating jobs in California.

"The inaugural round of California Competes awardees represents a broad range of industries and regions across California," said committee chair Michael E. Rossi, in a press release. "I am confident these companies will use the tax credits to invest in their business, hire more people and contribute to California's ongoing economic growth."

The awards approved by the committee are projected to help these companies create almost 6,000 jobs and generate more than $2 billion in investments across California. Awardees are exempted from paying state income taxes in the amount awarded.

An additional $150 million in tax credits will be allocated this fiscal year and companies not selected in the first round are eligible to reapply once the next application period opens.

The GEDI also includes a hiring credit for areas of high unemployment and poverty, and a sales and use tax exemption for the purchase of manufacturing, biotech and R&D equipment.

McGuire explained that one company cannot get more than 20 percent of the pot and that 25 percent has been earmarked for small businesses.

"It really benefits everyone more equally when everyone can apply," said Sandy Person, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation and added that the tax credits aren't targeting specialized districts.

"We're helping companies now apply for this," she said. "Economic development is a team sport. It takes the local leadership, the county and the state to work together."

McGuire also pointed to the California Capital Access Program, Cal-CAP, which encourages financial institutions to make loans to small businesses that fall just outside their conventional underwriting standards. Cal-CAP is a form of loan portfolio insurance that provides up to 100 percent coverage on certain loan charge offs.

Person said the challenge is where to start and that's when Solano EDC is there to help navigate.
"To bring those tools and resources to the businesses is a challenge, but California is making an effort," she said.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

County unveils Solano economic diversification study

By Barry Eberling
From page A1 | August 02, 2014               

FAIRFIELD — Solano County wants to diversify the local economy, with ideas ranging from creating a new look along Interstate 80 to better training the workforce to meet local job demands.

Travis Air Force Base is the county’s largest employer, with 13,400 workers and an estimated $1.6 billion annual economic impact. The county’s stated goal is to find ways that the area can better weather defense spending fluctuations.

Solano County used a $369,860 federal Department of Defense grant over the past 18 months to address the issue. The result is 300 pages in economic reports by consultants Economic Planning System Inc.

Solano County calls the effort Moving Solano Forward.

The county Board of Supervisors will discuss the proposed Moving Solano Forward strategies Tuesday. The session takes place at 2 p.m. at the county Government Center, 675 Texas St. Supervisors will begin their meeting at 9 a.m. discussing other topics.

“As the county regains its footing after the recession, the next phase of commercial growth will be instrumental in setting the tone for future economic growth and development,” the county economic report said.

The report calls for county civic and business leaders to align themselves and work together to diversify the economy.

County Senior Management Analyst Stephen Pierce on Friday compared Moving Solano Forward to a barn raising. Each party has different skills, but when they get together, the barn goes up, he said.
The county conducted 10 forums over a year to engage public and private sector leaders on how to diversify the local economy, a county report said. The mayors from the county’s seven cities and the county supervisors participated in the Moving Solano Forward effort.

All of this has resulted in a number of proposed goals to be pursued by various local agencies and groups over the coming year.

For example, one priority is to conduct a “visioning study” on how to enhance the I-80 corridor. Ideas in the report include establishing countywide design standards for architecture and fencing, exploring various branding opportunities such as “Prosperity Corridor” and refining signage to highlight key gateways.

Pierce called the freeway the “Main Street” of the county.

Solano County is to take the lead on the I-80 study. It is to work with the Solano Transportation Authority, school districts, the brokerage community, colleges and Solano Economic Development Corp.

Among the other first-year goals are:
  • Determine real estate and labor needs for potential businesses in major county business clusters, such as biotechnology. Solano Economic Development Corp. is to be the lead group.
  • Develop an economic development messaging strategy. Solano Economic Development Corp. is to be the lead group.
  • Form a countywide crime rate improvement and prevention task force. The county Police Chiefs Association is to be the lead group.
  • Connect public and private schools and communities through formal partnerships with local businesses, nonprofit groups and community organizations. The Solano County Superintendents Group is to be the lead group.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider approving the economic study and Moving Solano Forward strategies. The reports will be presented Aug. 14 to the City County Coordinating Committee – a meeting of the seven mayors and Board of Supervisors. They will be presented at the Aug. 28 Solano Economic Development Corp. breakfast.

Comments received will be incorporated into a final version of the economic report to be completed in the fall.

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

Solano County looks to strategically diversify its economy

By Melissa Murphy

The Reporter, Vacaville @ReporterMMurphy on Twitter
Posted: 08/02/2014 09:20:40 PM PDT
Solano County continues to explore ways to grow and diversify its economy.

Tuesday, the Solano County Board of Supervisors will receive a presentation and public comment at 2 p.m. on the draft 2014 Solano County Economic Diversification Study report, available online at

The need for economic diversification, according to the county, stems from Solano coming out of the great recession and to strategically strengthen promising industry sectors in order to hedge against Travis Air Force Base funding fluctuations. The county noted in the report that Travis is a primary driver of the county economy. It's the largest employer with annual economic impacts that reach $1.6 billion.

In a report to the board, staff explained that the Solano Economic Development Corporation was asked to assist the Office of Economic Adjustment in conducting an economic diversification study. The OEA, according to staff helps communities with local economies that have significant Department of Defense expenditures.

In January 2013, the board of supervisors accepted a grant to develop a countywide economic strategic approach "to further diversify the Solano County economy so that the local economy is not as dependent on defense expenditures at Travis Air Force Base and to create a sustainable economic base that enables residents and businesses to thrive and prosper independent of budget cycles and changing priorities related to defense spending."

Moving SOLANO Forward was then created and input was collected from various public and private sector leaders that explored the county's demographic and economic profile, existing economic development ecosystem, and viable industries and clusters.

The vision of Moving Solano Forward is for the Solano County region to "work collaboratively to create a diverse and robust economy focused on city-driven growth, desired industry cluster growth in targeted locations, viable agricultural uses and strengthened recreational assets that expand economic opportunities for employers and residents."

The goals of the economic diversification include enhancing countywide development capacity, strengthening regional economic development and workforce development programs and services, and improving quality of life for county residents and businesses.

During the process the analysis refined the characterization of Solano County's existing targeted industry clusters by adding the "advanced materials industry" cluster to those clusters that already exist, energy, food chain, and medical/life sciences.

The advanced materials cluster, staff explained, includes a wide array of high-tech engineered materials, components, and systems, as well as the commodities, products, processes, and instruments to make and monitor the materials.

"Focusing economic development efforts on these clusters will support the potential job and wealth creation in the county as well as strengthen the local economy as a location for these distinct economic activities," staff said.

Additional presentations will be made before the 4Cs, Aug. 14, and Solano EDC, Aug. 28.
The final Diversification Report is expected to by completed in September.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors meets at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the County Government Center, 675 Texas St., Fairfield.