Tuesday, April 12, 2005

City of Fairfield to take a look at economic future

Article Last Updated: Monday, Apr 11, 2005 - 11:08:02 pm PDT

City to take a look at economic future

By Matthew Bunk

- The city's economic development priorities have shifted over the years and the document that identifies the business recruitment strategy is being reworked to reflect the city's new goals.

Instead of focusing on filling business parks and attracting large industrial companies, Fairfield officials want to show that they're working to build up Fairfield's core commercial districts and small businesses as well.

The new Economic Development Strategy has been in the draft stages for more than a year now. It will replace a document that has guided economic growth and retention since 1998.

"The biggest difference is that this strategy focuses more on infill development . . . the underutilized and vacant land within the city," Fairfield economic development specialist Rachel Hazlewood said.

The Fairfield City Council will hold a special meeting tonight to discuss economic development strategies and to receive comments from residents. The study session will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall.

"(Fairfield) no longer has vast tracts of land upon which to expand and must, instead, set priorities for future growth," the draft states.

Revitalization of the Interstate 80 corridor is a crucial part of the plan. Business districts on North Texas Street and downtown floundered for years as the city worked to build infrastructure in outlying areas of the city, but already that appears to be changing.

Major redevelopment has taken place downtown with the recent completion of the six-story Solano County Government Center. Property owners in that district spent millions of dollars to rebuild old structures in hopes of attracting more retail spending.

Changing the physical appearance of the city's oldest business districts was a point brought up repeatedly in surveys of residents, according to the draft document.

City staff began working on drafts of the Economic Development Strategy more than a year ago. The city council was expected to vote last summer on whether to approve the strategy but was held up due to scheduling conflicts, Hazlewood said.

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or mbunk@dailyrepublic.net

At a Glance

Who: Fairfield City Council and Redevelopment Agency

What: Study Session to discuss 2005 Economic Development Strategy

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Council chamber at City Hall, 1000 Webster Street

Info: 428-7039

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