Monday, May 11, 2015

Solano EDC growing to meet needs of changing economy

By Melissa Murphy,, @ReporterMMurphy on Twitter Posted: |
J. Paul Harrington (left) and Patrick McGuire discuss the upcoming projects with the Solano Economic Development Center. — Joel Rosenbaum, The Reporter 

Meeting the need for the county’s business community is top priority for the Solano Economic Development Corporation.

That’s why, as the economy shows signs of improvement, the Solano EDC team is growing.

“We’re trying to build and anticipate how to grow to meet the need,” said Sandy Person, president of Solano EDC.

The Solano EDC, among other things, works to better position businesses with the right tools.

“Nobody can do it alone,” she said. “We’ve made a big commitment to serve economic development.

A unified approach makes for wins.”

The most recent addition to the Solano EDC team is Patrick McGuire who recently retired from the state and GO-Biz, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

Working part time, McGuire is vice president and the point person for attracting businesses to the region as well as helping expand businesses that are already here. He also will continue his work assisting companies with programs like California Competes Tax Credit. California Competes is an income tax credit available to businesses that want to come to California or stay and grow in California. McGuire said there is money earmarked for small businesses.

“We want to get the word out,” he said. “Every company planning on expanding is in the running.”

He explained that the Solano EDC is filling in those support services for businesses that cities were once able to do.

“What a coup for us,” Person said about having McGuire on board.

One year ago Solano EDC embarked on a new venture with Pacific Gas & Electric and Solano County to save businesses and public agencies energy costs.

The Solano Energy Watch program with J.Paul Harrington at the helm as project manager has already seen successes since its inception. It has exceeded 2 million Kilowatt hours saved, surpassed $300,000 in recurring energy savings back into Solano County businesses and more than 100 businesses, non-profits and municipalities have participated in Solano Energy Watch.

“We’ve had an outstanding first year,” Harrington said. “We’re reaching those hard to reach businesses.”

Solano EDC and its partners are reaching out to myriad businesses, he said, from nail salons to warehouses, grocery stores to barbecue shops.

The Solano Energy Watch offers a no cost evaluation of how and where energy is used in existing facilities, and generates a comprehensive report containing energy efficiency solutions and the latest PG&E rebates and incentives to lower the cost of energy upgrades.

“It’s such a good team we’re building,” Person said. “We’re seizing those opportunities and reemerging. We’re offering that support to businesses to connect to resources, it’s the building blocks for economic growth.”

Person said Solano is in a great position, a place where businesses can grow because of the area’s tremendous depth of resources and infrastructure.

“We have a diverse county and a diverse skill set,” she said. “We want to be relevant to every sector.”

The announcement from ICON Aircraft Inc. last year that it’s relocating to Vacaville was a major boost to the county’s reputation.

McGuire called it a ripple effect when other businesses are looking at Solano to set up shop.
“It does attract people’s attention,” he said and added that it hasn’t all been gloom and doom for California’s economy. “There are innovative things happening here.”

Person agreed.

“There is this sense of opportunity,” she said and added that California is still the nation’s largest manufacturer. “We want to be proud of and feel a part of a winning team.”

Additional information about the Solano EDC is available online at