Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fairfield payment to Moving Solano Forward may climb to $45,000

Fairfield payment to Moving Solano Forward may climb to $45,000
By Ryan McCarthy From page A3 | March 21, 2017

FAIRFIELD — A proposal for the city to pay $45,000 a year to the Moving Solano Forward campaign to boost economic development – up from $10,000 – goes before Fairfield City Council members Tuesday.
“For this strategy to be successful, new investment is required,” a city staff report said.
“It is expected that the future new investment and job creation resulting from greater economic development and marketing activities will create an economic impact ‘ripple effect’ of returns to the city that will by far exceed this level of investment,” the report added.
Funding from cities is based on population.
Money is not in the budget for the increase, but the city staff would like to add the extra $35,000 in the upcoming budget, the staff report said.
The “Solano Means Business” strategy for the region was introduced at the March 10 meeting of the Solano Economic Development Corp. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield.
Mario Giuliani, economic development director for Benicia, called the strategy a vehicle to grow the local economy.
“Let’s start our engines,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani said the “Solano Means Business” effort outlines an economic development strategy for the county. A marketing campaign and a list of industrial sites is part of the strategy.
“Solano Means Business” aims to create new jobs and attract investment to boost the $19.6 billion economy in the county.
Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez said a year ago that $823,460 in federal money for the Moving Solano Forward project to diversify the county’s economic base provides contracts for consultants, but may not benefit taxpayers.
A $453,460 grant from the federal Office of Economic Adjustment paid for a second phase of the Solano project and follows the first part that received $370,000 in federal money and paid consultant Economic Planning Systems Inc. for an economic diversity report.
“I sure hope that after this second phase,” Sanchez had said, “it just doesn’t end up to be an $800,000 website.”
Sanchez said state and federal grants offered cities typically won’t pay to buy land or buildings and as a result reports proliferate.
He could not be reached for comment Monday about the “Solano Means Business” campaign.
Sandy Person, chief executive officer of the Solano Economic Development Corp., said in 2016 that the new phase of Moving Solano Forward puts into place recommendations from the first part of the project to further diversify the county’s economy.
Person said the federally funded project is a phenomenal opportunity to boost economic development and help ease the burden of having 25 percent of county residents on some form of public assistance. That number has been reported as high as 30 percent.
The project includes a corridor strategy that recognizes the importance of Interstate 80, she had said.
“Our region becomes the draw,” she said. “There’s strength in numbers.”
“It benefits everybody,” Person said.
Fairfield City Council members meet at 6 p.m. in the chamber at 1000 Webster St.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.