Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Economic Development Corp. Works to Build Solano

Economic Development Corp. Works to Build Solano
By Ines Bebea

FAIRFIELD - Bringing new businesses and employers to Solano County is more than a full-time job. It requires endless self-promotion, friendly competition and cooperation to let potential leads know of the benefits of having an office, plant or store in the county.

For Michael S. Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corp., the challenges appear when he has to match the interest of a perspective employer with the needs, wants and availability of a city.

"The most important issue is making sure that the community is ready to welcome the investment," Ammann said. "We don't want a business to open and then go out of business. That doesn't work for anyone."

Getting prospective employers interested in Solano County is a long and slow process where only a fraction of those who show interest commit to a site, Ammann said. A lot of the leg work is done by Ammann, who travels constantly to trade shows and conventions to let companies know about the county.

The membership-based organization has 175 members and brings together the public and private sector.

"Many companies get to hear about Solano EDC through referrals from people we have worked with," Ammann said. "But we also get leads from other local economic development organizations who for whatever reason could not make the deal happen."

A couple of Ammann's most pressing goals are to bring high-paying jobs to the county and decrease the number of residents commuting out of the county for work.

"When you have people work where they live, that also gives them more opportunities to be involved in their community," he said. "Whether it is serving on a board, attending school activities or spending money locally."

He is passionate about Solano County because it can also be marketed as a family oriented community.

"Before all of our new development, people thought of Solano as a short stop between San Francisco and Sacramento," he said. "Now we have a Six Flags in Vallejo, great access to Napa, Walnut Creek, Jelly Belly, fresh produce and family activities."

While the organization doesn't have to create a certain number of companies or jobs each year, he is confident that 2007 will be a good year for the county.

"Presently we have 24 (companies or organizations) who are showing interest," he said. "The economy for California at this time looks promising with all the bio-technology companies in the state and development opportunities."

The surging economies in China and Japan are also a great source of possibilities for the ports in the Bay Area and its surrounding counties. Ammann said.

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

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