Saturday, April 14, 2007

Gary Tatum, Vacaville Chamber Business Beat: Solano Economic Summit

Business Beat Solano Economic Summit
Gary H. Tatum – Friday, February 16, 2007 Last Thursday, February 15, the meeting room at the Hilton Inn in Fairfield was filled with a broad representation of Solanoans who spent the day in discussion of what well could become a vision for our county’s future.

The session was very well planned and broad in scope. To many of us, “Economic Development in Solano County” may appear to be limited in scope, but that was certainly not the case. The day’s sessions covered many aspects of what portends to be a positive picture for the future of Solano. One such aspect is that we need to think differently as to just where we are geographically. Because of the split that exists with the Northern portion of Solano associated more with the Greater Sacramento Region and the Southern portion with the Greater Bay Area we have established an unfortunate split-personality. Where we actually are is in the middle of one of the entire world’s largest metro-plex zones. The speakers suggested looking at Solano as being in the middle of that very large economic metro region that stretches from Reno all the way down I-80 to the San Francisco and even Monterey Bay areas.

With that vision in mind and the fact that we have just begun to become more and more viable as that lynchpin, we can plan so as not to repeat the mistakes of others, but rather to develop something unique.

In his welcoming comments Supervisor Mike Reagan, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, stressed that we “…walk away from today with a sense of direction on what we all can do – both together and individually – to make a dramatic and positive impact on our local economy.”

As a nation we are currently enjoying economic vitality and growth that we need to take full advantage of. Yes, we have weaknesses. In California we are still faced with many in our State’s government that don’t realize the importance of our small business entrepreneurs. As I have stated before some of these law makers as well as other bureaucratic decision makers fail to equate a strong business community with an even stronger government that can reap the higher tax incomes through higher employment and vigorous less restricted businesses. Increased taxes, fees, restrictions and reporting responsibilities do nothing but increase business costs thereby increasing unemployment and decreasing tax revenue. A healthy government is dependent on an equally healthy business climate.

It was significant that our own Assembly Member Lois Wolk was present throughout the session. I believe Ms Wolk understands what is needed and I am encouraged that her enthusiasm may spread to more of her colleagues.

This is just a beginning. Solano Economic Summit II will take place on May 31, 2007. Hopefully by than we will have jointly accomplished some of the tasks toward the vision that was spoken of last Thursday. The cross section of community leaders was impressive and evidence that such a positive vision, which can be beneficial to all is achievable. Our Capstone Speaker, Sunne McPeak who recently was the Secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and now serves as the chief executive officer of the California Emerging Technology Fund spoke enthusiastically about our future. She stressed the importance of a collaborative effort and saw Solano as a vital center for tomorrow’s economic vitality.

The only foreseeable drawback that I envision is the differences between the attitudes of our eight geopolitical entities (seven cities and the county) that could hamper a larger county-wide plan. There are, and should be, differences between and within our individual communities. Even with that in mid let’s hope for a future Solano that appeals to the varied tastes and needs of our diverse population.

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