Friday, September 30, 2016

Visit California lifts veil on Solano County’s treasures

Daily Republic - September 30, 2016 

By From page A1 | September 30, 2016
FAIRFIELD — Visit California has pulled back the curtain on Solano County and described it as one of the state’s best-kept secrets, calling it a “treasure.”

The private nonprofit organization based in Sacramento has the singular task of promoting the state.

It recently featured California’s varied wine destinations – from San Luis Obispo to the Capay Valley and even farther north – in the same publication that this month highlights Solano County.

However, Solano County was omitted from the wine country article.

That was corrected to some degree as Suisun Valley is counted among the treasures that tourists should learn about in Solano County.

“We’ve been seeing more visitors over the past several years, as people discover we’re a secret Napa,” Ron Lanza, vice president of Wooden Valley Winery, is quoted as saying in the article. “I credit part of it to technology. Cellphone navigation helps people find us, hidden on the map.”

The article, which appeared in California Dream Big and is written by Carey Sweet, highlights the usual destination points such as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo and the Jelly Belly Candy Company in Fairfield, but also shines a light on the recreational opportunities, “from kayaking to birdwatching, from hiking to golf.”

The message may sound new to some, but it is one Anand Patel, chief executive officer for the Fairfield Conference and Visitors Bureau, has been promoting for some time.

“We have been touting that for a long time, and my colleagues at Visit Vacaville and Visit Vallejo have been trying to send that message for a long time,” said Patel, who said he was delighted to learn Visit California viewed the area as a “hidden treasure.”

“Solano County is a destination that a lot of people do not think of to go to, but I think we are getting the word out . . . and hopefully will not be a hidden treasure for much longer,” Patel said.

The article also specifically highlights the Suisun waterfront, described as “a charming waterfront village,” the family fun of Six Flags and Jelly Belly, as well as the farm-fresh delights found in Solano County.

“Acres of almonds, wheat, olive orchards, and seed-rich sunflowers dominate this region, with some 860 farms operating in Solano County. As you drive the country roads, you’ll see plenty of farm stands offering just-picked fruits, vegetables, and nuts,” the Visit California article states.

“Or go straight to the mother lode – Cal Yee Farm of Fairfield is a virtual cornucopia inside a cozy white cottage, with shelves brimming with fruits and nuts,” it adds.

The expanding olive oil presence in the county is noted with mentions of Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company and Sepay Groves.

Visit California goes on to describe Solano County as a golfer’s paradise, listing Rancho Solano with its “scenic lakes, hilly, tree-studded terrain,” the Paradise Valley golf course, and the Golf Club at Rio Vista. It also favors the Mare Island Golf Club of Vallejo, but with a warning of sorts.

“The biggest challenge might be keeping your eyes on the ball without getting distracted by stunning
views of San Pablo Bay, the Napa River, Mount Tamalpais, and even the Golden Gate Bridge,” the article states.

Visit California ends its unveiling of Solano County’s secrets by noting all the outdoor recreation opportunities.

Sandy Person, chief executive officer of Solano Economic Development Corporation, said the exposure provided by Visit California complements the business attraction, retention and expansion efforts by her organization.

“It demonstrates that Solano County has all the things people like,” Person said.

She said this is important to business owners, who can use the amenities to recruit employees. And if that business leader learns about Solano County while being a tourist enjoying the area, that’s fine with her.

“We want to bring interest (to) and get Solano on the map,” Person said.

Reach Todd R. Hansen at 427-6932 or

Manufacturing can be pathway to economic development

The Reporter, September 29, 2016

By Kimberly K. Fu @ReporterKimFu on Twitter
Manufacturing — Solano County’s answer to economic growth and job development.
Such was the implication at Wednesday’s breakfast gathering of the Solano Economic Development Corporation for the first in a series exploring different industries that could contribute to increasing job opportunities.
Dorothy Rothrock, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, and Bill Gaines, Chairman of Transfer Flow Inc., talked about the importance of manufacturing and the impacts it could have on the economy.
California, apparently, has the sixth largest economy in the world and is also known! as the manufacturing state.
Yet, last year, California was dead last when looking at manufacturing investments, lamented Rothrock. She pointed out that manufacturing jobs continued to show growth, but California still lagged.
The issue — finding skilled workers.
"This is one of the biggest issues we’re working on," she said.
By teaching students about the manufacturing industry it’s possible to have a skilled workforce available by the time graduation comes around, she said.
Gaines agreed.
He proposed teaching students elements of manufacturing in grade school on up. If you wait till they get to college, it’s too late, he said.
There are probably dozens of manufacturing busin! esses in your backyard, he said, and even knowing about them helps their growth. Just one manufacturing job is comparable to the pay of 13 retail jobs, he said, as skilled labor is needed to complete the jobs.
Impediments include not having that skilled labor, which is intrinsically linked to technology and science.
"If we don’t keep up with tech, we’re simply out of business," he said.
At least 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed by 2025 and an estimated 2 million will go unfilled due to a lack of available staff.
Which is where the North State Grow Manufacturing Initiative comes in.
The aim is to let students know about all the opportunities available in the industry and train them for those jobs. Industry experts can help! train the trainers — in this case, teachers — to ensure students are fully exposed to everything they need to know. They’ll get realworld exposure and learning, and be up to date on the latest technologies driving manufacturing.
Next, schools should expect to count on support of the industry — receiving any equipment and expertise they may need.
Manufacturing, indeed, can have a positive impact on a community, Gaines said, and it’s already made a difference in his area, Butte County. By shining a light on the industry and getting everyone involved, he said, it can definitely be impactful to every community.