For the longest time during and immediately after the Great Recession, the economic news in Solano County was bleak.
Housing construction stopped and home values plummeted. Retailers, both local and national chains, closed their doors. Unemployment spiked and eventually our cities and the county started feeling the financial pinch and had to scale back services.
News on the economic front in recent years became more of a mixed back.
Copart sold its building to Partnership Health Plan when the auto parts seller announced in 2011 that it was moving its headquarters to Texas. Partnership Health Plan moved into the space in 2012. MV Transportation also moved its headquarters from Fairfield to Texas in 2012.
While this was happening, the city landed Frank-Lin Distillers Products Ltd., which operates out of 298,000 square feet of space on 23 acres on Huntington Drive. Frank-Lin could see as many as 160 jobs here in Fairfield in a deal that was five years in the making.
Price-Simms Inc. opened Ford and Mercedes-Benz dealerships at the Fairfield Auto Mall. The Momentum Auto Group added Volkswagen and Mazda dealerships.
Kaiser Permanente and NorthBay Healthcare ramped up available trauma care here at home, with the highly skilled jobs those moves entail. NorthBay is also in the midst of putting up a new building at its administrative center in Fairfield.
Fairfield in 2012 sold 43 acres of city property near Cordelia and Hale Ranch roads to Buzz Oates Development, which is building a $16 million, 318,000-square-foot building for Encore!Glass, which itself provides wine bottles and packaging. Buzz Oates also plans to build a $24 million, 471,000-square-foot building for a future tenant.
Speaking of wine, the Wagner Family of Wine winery on Cordelia Road is moving ahead. The family owns Camus Vineyards in Napa Valley and plans to produce up to 5 million gallons of wine annually at the Fairfield site, with construction tentatively set to start in 2014.
We recently lost Orchard Supply Hardware and the local Kmart store, but we’ve gained CarMax at the Fairfield Auto Mall.
Now comes the announcement that pharmaceutical giant Genentech is expanding its operations over the hill in Vacaville, and adding 200 jobs to Solano County.
A mixed bag, to be sure, but the good news appears to be winning out over the bad.