Saturday, April 23, 2005

City of Fairfield discusses economic development

Article Last Updated: Wednesday, Apr 13, 2005 - 10:52:20 pm PDT

City discusses economic development

By Matthew Bunk

FAIRFIELD - City leaders had some alternative suggestions, but they mostly liked the ideas for enhancing Fairfield's business structure that were presented at a special meeting Tuesday night.

At the study session, city planners and economic development specialists unveiled a comprehensive 2005 Economic Development Strategy that outlines how city staff will approach business recruitment and retention in the next five years.

The strategy shows a shift in the city's focus from developing business parks to a more rounded approach that includes improving the city's core business districts along the Interstate 80 corridor.

City Council members probed the document and said they wanted staff to present a list of outcomes that will be achieved if the strategy is approved.

The strategy is filled with non-specific goals with no measure of success. Though they approved of the tone of the document, City Council members wanted assurances it would lead to results "we can see."

"I would like to see measurements of success," such as striking a balance between housing and jobs and growing the city's tax base, Councilwoman Marlin Farley said. "That seems to be missing."

The council, and especially Mayor Karin MacMillan, liked that the Economic Development Department is trying to reach out to businesses of various sizes and industries. Concentrating too much on only one type can lead to drastic swings in the city's economy, she noted.

Small businesses actually provide 75 percent of the city's jobs, economic development specialist Rachel Hazlewood said."We intentionally attract small- and mid-sized companies with potential for growth," Planning and Development Director Sean Quinn said.

The discussion explored how to get the word out about Fairfield, what sort of business signs should be allowed within city limits and whether the quality of the local school system affected whether business leaders would move their companies to Fairfield.

At one point, Vice Mayor Harry Price urged economic developers to go after white-collar industries such as law firms. Legal firms, he said, would complement the county's court system in Fairfield.Fairfield should be able to attract more than just "the low-hanging fruit," he said.

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

Fairfield Economic Development Quick Facts

  • Fairfield has 1.4 jobs for every household, more than any other city in Solano County.
  • Seventy-three percent of Fairfield businesses have fewer than 10 employeesn From 1995 until 2004, developers built 7.3 million square feet of retail, office and industrial space.
  • In 1997, the city issued building permits for more than 1 million square feet of commercial space.
  • The average Fairfield resident earned $20,617 in 2000.

Sources: U.S. Census and Fairfield Planning and Development Department

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