Friday, February 08, 2008

Discussion Highlights Fairfield's Potential

Discussion Highlights Fairfield's Potential
By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | February 07, 2008

FAIRFIELD - City leaders got their opportunity to sell Fairfield and others also weighed in Thursday as the East Bay Business Times hosted its Growth Cities discussion.

The forum involved moderators and audience members asking questions of a four-member panel, which included Fairfield Mayor Harry Price and former mayor Gary Falati. It was billed as an opportunity for businesses outside the area to become acquainted with Fairfield.

'In the case of Fairfield, we have a city that has tremendous aspirations, tremendous potential and is advancing itself on several fronts,' said East Bay Business Times Publisher Mike Consol, who served as the event moderator.

Throughout the event, Consol and audience members peppered the panel with questions about available industrial land in the city, crime rates, water quality and school quality.

Joining Price and Falati on the panel were Bill Mellerup, vice president of community development for homebuilder Lewis Planned Communities, and Matt Bracco, senior director for the Cushman and Wakefield real estate firm.

Observing that the city has historically done well in luring large companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Clorox and Copart, Inc., Consol asked what aspects of Fairfield attracted them.

High-quality water from Lake Berryessa and access to interstates 80 and 680 have both been major factors, Bracco said. He also praised the city staff in the Community Development Department for being willing to 'take the time to sit down with companies and walk them through the process.'

'They're deal-makers,' he said.

Consol also asked about the city's negatives, of which crime was mentioned prominently. Chamber of Commerce President Leslie Fay said she also hears from members about transportation frustrations and a need for more highly-skilled workers.

Price, a former teacher, and Falati, former president of the Fairfield-Suisun School Board, agreed that schools are improving and said more can be done.

'One question I constantly get is, 'If I move here, will I have to send my children out of county,' ' Price said.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

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