Thursday, November 08, 2007

Solano Looks To Attract, Retain Firms

Solano Looks To Attract, Retain Firms
By Cathy Bussewitz/Staff Writer

California's labor laws, tax laws and infrastructure challenges make retaining businesses here difficult.

That was the message local civic and business leaders heard Thursday as Dominic DiMare, vice president of government relations for the California Chamber of Commerce, spoke at a Solano County Economic Development Corporation gathering on strategies to attract and retain business.

Having represented 16,000 people during his seven years with the California Chamber of Commerce, DiMare offered an informed perspective on the challenges facing California's business community.

"Our tax system is not designed for helping starved companies in California," DiMare said. "It is designed for the maximum generation of revenues for the general fund."

The California Chamber lobbied for business during this year's statewide health care reform debate and DiMare discussed the health care proposal Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled earlier this month, which mandates health insurance for all Californians, gives employers the option of providing health insurance, and includes an employer payroll tax up to 4 percent.

DiMare said the state chamber focused its energy on the proposed employer payroll tax which would be used to fund the plan. Its efforts were instrumental in the governor's decision to reduce the payroll tax, he said.

DiMare also said the tax wouldn't generate enough revenue to fund the program.

"From a policy standpoint, it would not fund the level of benefits that they want to give," DiMare said. "From day one, that health care system would probably cost more than the actual revenues they were taking in."

Vacaville City Manager David Van Kirk agreed.

"We've lost a couple of major manufacturing opportunities, mainly because of the state tax law as it relates to manufacturing," Van Kirk said, referring to decisions made by Genentech and Tesla to expand in other states.

Michael Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, suggested providing incentives to companies who create renewable resources.

"Why not put a package together to attract a hybrid plant to California?" Ammann asked. "California is the largest market for hybrids in the U.S. Should we just import all of those automobiles?"

Next year, the top priorities for the California Chamber will be education and climate change, DiMare said.

Cathy Bussewitz can be reached at

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