Thursday, September 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Solano works to diversify an improving economy

suisun valley fall 10_3_13

Shannon Dorrough, right, picks out debris as her father Rory Dorrough, left, drives a walnut harvester at the family's ranch in Suisun Valley. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic file, 2013)

By
From page SOL41 | August 24, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — In Solano County’s employment world, there’s Travis Air Force Base and everyone else.

The base employees 13,400 people and has an estimated annual economic impact of $1.6 billion. It is far and away the biggest job generator in the county.

Solano County embraces the role Travis Air Force Base plays in the local economic world. But it has also launched an effort to diversify its economy. It wants an economy that is less sensitive to changes in federal defense spending.

The effort is called Moving Solano Forward.

Solano County received a $370,000 grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment, which is part of the Department of Defense. It used the money to pay consultant Economic Planning Systems Inc. and launched into an 18-month effort to put together an economic diversity report.

Recommendations range from branding the county, having schools work with businesses, nonprofit groups and community groups, having a countywide crime task force and determining real estate and labor needs associated with prospective businesses.

Making Moving Solano Forward a reality will be a group effort in the coming year. The county, the Solano Economic Development Corp., the City Managers Group, the Solano County Superintendents Group, the Planning Directors/City Managers Group and the Police Chiefs Association are responsible for working on various aspects.

County Senior Management Analyst Stephen Pierce said much of the work involves bringing better coordination to the county’s economic development efforts.

“You can get very focused on doing all the right things separately,” he said. “There’s an idea that doing the right things together may be more productive.”

The effort comes amid continued signs that Solano County is recovering from the Great Recession.

Unemployment dropped from a high of more than 12 percent in 2011 to just more than 7 percent in June. The county added 1,700 jobs from June 2013 to this June. Construction added 400 jobs from May to June, compared to the usual 100 jobs at that time of the year.

Fairfield has seen such recent developments as the Solano Logistics center being built by the development firm Buzz Oates. Encore Glass opened in a 318,00-square-building. Saxco International LLC is coming to a 473,000-square-foot warehouse.

Icon Aircraft in May announced it is relocating from Southern California to Vacaville, at a site near Nut Tree Airport. It manufactures amphibious, lightweight sport planes.

Solano County reported its property assessment role increased for the second straight year. The value rose by $3.1 billion, to a total of $44.7 billion.

Farming reached new heights for the county. The 2013 crop report listed a value of $34.2 million, an all-time high. Leading the way were walnuts, calves and cattle,  alfalfa, nursery products and tomatoes.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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