Saturday, March 11, 2017

Solano leaders talk collaboration, growing the economy

By Kimberly K. Fu,, @ReporterKimFu on Twitter

Posted: 03/10/17, 5:55 PM PST | Updated: 2 hrs ago 0 Comments

Wanted — A deafening roar of engines to signal the community’s commitment to Move Solano Forward.

Such was the sentiment early Friday at a Solano Economic Development Corporation (EDC) gathering focused on growing the county’s economy.

Chairwoman Louise Walker spoke of the need for everyone to be on the same page, to get involved, to proactively and aggressively tell the county’s story.

“I truly believe that this is our time,” she said.

For a while now, the Solano EDC has been bringing experts together to come up with a game plan to help the economy progress.

Teams have since drafted a roadmap outlining next steps.

That includes a mission-focused effort involving public and private engagement to attract new business while retaining existing ones.

A one-year tactical and five-year strategic plan is in the works and stakeholder meetings and outreach will be conducted through May. Next up will be a launch of the “Solano Business First” existing program, then a possible soft launch of the “Solano Means Business” campaign.

Economist Robert Eyler, with Economic Forensics & Analytics, said 207 sites totaling 3,600 acres have been identified for potential expansion. The majority are small but many are shovel-ready.

Audrey Taylor, president of Chabin Concepts Inc., emphasized that Solano needs to be bold moving forward to compete with surrounding counties. They’re competitive and extremely aggressive in promoting themselves, she added, so Solano must be the same.

Mario Giuliani, meanwhile, pushed for unilateral support.

“When we promote Solano as a county we promote us all,” said the economic development manager and acting deputy city manager for the city of Benicia.

He remembered an instance when a Mare Island business had some issues and spoke with him about possibly moving cities. He researched the matter and, despite wanting the business in his city, advised a stay at Mare Island. He explained that was better for the business and Solano as a whole.

The Moving Solano Forward initiative is about promotion and the subsequent acknowledgment can only benefit the county, said Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan.

“It’s about putting Solano County on the map for people who aren’t in this room and who don’t know what we’re all about,” she explained.

She called for collaboration, for commitment.

“This is the now, this is the time,” she said. “Let’s get Solano moving.”

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