A Welcome Addition
Genentech R&D In Dixon Benefits Us All
Though Dixon Downs may be the hot potato on the political plate of local officials, news of a decision by biotech giant Genentech to build a research facility grabbed headlines this week. And for good reason.
The advent of a biotech research and development center is great news not only for the city of Dixon, but for all of Solano County. It reinforces this as the emerging biotech hub of California and beyond. And almost as important, it reflects a step above and beyond the manufacturing cluster that exists.
A 140,000-square-foot research facility could employ up to 160 very well-paid scientists and biotech experts. They would live in the region, most likely, and contribute portions of a very good payroll to the local economy.
Solano County now becomes more than a home to just manufacturing. It will have a facility to develop new products that ultimately could be produced in the expanding Vacaville plant. The importance of moving beyond the production role cannot be overstated.
Of course, Genentech could have located the research facility on its Vacaville campus in the triangle formed by the confluence of Interstate 80 and I-505. But that is not the strategy or the culture that most high-tech firms embrace. There tends to be separation between research and production, to allow manufacturers do their job on one site and scientists to do their experimentation at another. They are often not good fits together.
The logic of Genentech's choice is obvious.
Surely there are corporate strategies that we do not know or understand. But the proximity to the University of California, Davis, which produces more graduates in the life sciences than any other institution, is the overwhelming attraction to locating in Dixon.
And the fact that the city of Dixon opened its arms with promises to keep construction and permitting on a fast track did not hurt, either.
Graduates coming to work in research and development will find Solano County more hospitable - in terms of housing and cost-of-living - than say, South San Francisco, where Genentech has its other R&D center.
Conversely, Solano County now will have a much higher profile for those whose job it is to lure other good-paying, clean industries (perhaps some related to biotech and Genentech) to our communities.
Where once we had only good location to sell, we now have location plus a solid, well-educated workforce to offer new arrivals.
Genentech easily could have decided to establish its research efforts, which will guide its future mission, outside of California or outside of Northern California. But fortunately for us, it chose here.
Congratulations, Lambtown. And congratulations to all of the local folks who worked on getting this done, including those within the city of Dixon, the Solano Economic Development Corp., and those in the private sector who brokered the deal.
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