Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Leaders Moving to Attract Biotech

Leaders Moving to Attract Biotech
BY RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

Solano County will be front and center at an international biotech convention next month, it was announced Monday.

Mike Ammann, Solano Economic Development Corp. president, said he'll represent the county as part of a California contingent at the 2007 BIO International Convention in Boston May 6 and 7. The idea is to spread the word that California and Solano County in particular are primed to support a growing biotech industry, Ammann said.

"It's exorbitantly expensive to participate in these conventions, so economic development leaders from across the state formed 'Team California' and we'll be taking turns manning the California pavilion," he said.

"The idea is to attract that type of industry to the county," he said. "Vacaville is known for that be-cause of Genentech, Alza Corp. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals, so you start with that. You lead with what they know."

Vallejo Mayor Tony Intintoli said he hopes continued marketing of Solano County to the bio-tech industry will pay off in jobs.

"With what Touro University is doing on Mare Island, it seems like a good match," he said.

"Touro University is right in between Berkeley and Davis, and they're working on a whole life sciences proposal for the north end of Mare Island," Ammann agreed. "And most people don't know about the Bio-Rad Laboratories facility in Benicia."

The convention, which about 22,000 people are expected to attend, is "huge," and holds the possibility of bringing important jobs to the county, Ammann said.

"This is not the wave of the future, it's the wave of today," he said.

Though the EDC has participated in this type of convention since 2003, no biotech firm has yet moved to Solano County as a direct result. Hopefully, though, they soon will, Ammann said.

"We do these events because you've got to go out and tell them what you have to offer," Ammann said. "If you're not in the marketplace, people tend to forget who you are."

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.

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