Monday, August 08, 2005

City of Fairfield looking to attract bigger businesses

Article Launched: 08/07/2005 07:41:27 AM
City of Fairfield looking to attract bigger businesses

By Megan Lloyd-Jones/Reporter Intern

Fairfield boasts such companies as the Jelly Belly Factory and the Anheuser-Busch brewery, but the city wants to raise its profile even higher in the process of attracting new and expanding businesses.

The city of Fairfield recently approved a $205,000 marketing campaign to entice businesses to locate there.

The Fairfield Redevelopment Agency is seeking a professional marketing firm to sell the benefits of Fairfield to prospective businesses using a plethora of multi-media tools.

"It's a big step for us because never in our history have we gone out and employed a marketing firm," said Cynthia Garcia, management analyst for the city of Fairfield's Planning and Development Department.

Garcia said part of the marketing strategy is to go straight to businesses themselves. Instead of advertising on billboards or radio stations, Garcia said the firm will use marketing techniques to seek out businesses directly, such as compiling a mailing list of decision makers in target industries.

"We want to develop a business-to-business marketing campaign and work with the firm to get the biggest bang for our buck," said Curt Johnston, assistant director of economic development.

The need to bolster Fairfield's image is all part of the new Economic Development Strategy, which was approved by the city council along with the marketing campaign on July 19.

Rachel Hazlewood, economic development project manager, said the last strategy created was in 1998 and with Fairfield's economic climate changing, they decided in 2003 to update the strategy.

"We needed an up-to-date strategy, we needed to refocus because our priorities had changed," Hazlewood said.

In 2003, Solano Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit that advocates for businesses throughout the county, conducted a survey and found that Solano County received little name recognition.

The Fairfield Department of Planning and Development also conducted a internet/mail-based survey of more than 165 residents and businesses, to see who they would like to come to town. Both small businesses and major corporations were called upon to give input in focus groups on which businesses would complement their own.

"We want companies that will bring good quality jobs, that are environmentally friendly and would improve the lives of the citizens," Johnston said.

David Sommer, president and CEO of the Fairfield/Suisun City Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber supports the marketing campaign.

"Anything that helps create a strong local economy, getting the congestion off the freeway, will be beneficial to transportation, safety as well as quality of life issues," Sommer said.

Johnston said to make the marketing strategy effective the city must also work closely with Solano Economic Development Corporation to ensure their efforts are in sync.

"We're partnering with the Solano EDC. We don't want to duplicate what they are doing and waste tax dollars," Johnston said.

Solano EDC President, Mike Ammann, said he is glad to see Fairfield taking the next step and said the campaign will provide more resources for Solano EDC to promote the county.

"It is complementary to what we do. We're happy to see them make that kind of commitment," Ammann said.

While the economic development strategy hopes to improve Fairfield's reputation and recruit businesses, another goal is to retain and improve the vitality of the Fairfield's existing businesses.

Chuck Eason, director of the Solano College Small Business Development Center, said it is important to focus on the growth of small businesses in Solano County as these jobs make up around two thirds of the economy.

Eason said he hopes by improving the cosmetic look of North and West Texas Streets and the Interstate 80 and I-680 corridor, businesses will be encouraged to move to Fairfield.

"Fairfield has a good reputation, they just need to improve the look of the city to develop a more positive image," Eason said.

Vacaville Economic Development Manager Mike Palombo said his city's marketing budget is minuscule compared to Fairfield's, estimating Vacaville spent $15,000 to $25,000 on marketing last year. Palombo said the city reaches out to potential businesses through an active mayor and city council.

"It's not like we don't have a budget, we are just very careful how we use it," Palombo said. "I think we try and use every human resource we can and try to focus on a tight target."

Megan Lloyd-Jones can be reached at

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