Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Business Leaders, Officials Ponder Ideas For County Economy

Business Leaders, Officials Ponder Ideas For County Economy
By Ines Bebea

FAIRFIELD - More than 200 business representatives and elected officials met for a brainstorming session Tuesday to discuss concrete visions and plans to make Solano County's economy sustainable.

During the second Solano Economic Summit, held at the Courtyard by Marriott in Fairfield, attendees offered their visions and ideas for projects that will allow Solano County to be a major contributor to the Northern California economy.

"We are not in the peripheral of the economic region that expands from San Francisco to Reno," said Mike Reagan, chairman of the Solano County Board of Supervisors. "We are very much in the center. Our task has to be to transform the ideas we discussed in the February summit into projects that will take us in a positive direction."

The core of the summit centered around four key areas that may be considered the foundation for the long-term success of the county: workforce development, education and training; business retention, recruitment marketing and promotion; collaborative planning and leadership; and quality of life and infrastructure development. As they did in the last summit, participants were separated into smaller groups, to discuss the ideas for success.

"The idea that if you build it they will come no longer applies," said Robert Bloom, executive director of the Workforce Investment Board. "We need to put a focus on giving our workforce skills that many of our manufacturers demand today and that many of our job seekers don't have."

Agriculture and its economic impact also was a heated topic.

"Agriculture has the same economic impact as Travis Air Force Base," said Roger King, president of the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association. "But one of them is put on a pedestal. The county needs to do a study on what the strengths and weaknesses are in our economy and implement ideas to make them all stronger."

The next summit is tentatively scheduled for the end of the year, and projects that will bring about the economic change may be ready to be put into place.

"Obviously, there are many recurring themes that we need to address," Reagan said. "But as we continue to work together, we will be able to face the challenges."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

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