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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, February 10, 2014, 6:45 am

Solano creates ‘environment to nurture newcomers’

More than 300 hear about Caymus plans for winery

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    FAIRFIELD — The 31st annual meeting of the Solano Economic Development Corporation showcased significant public-private sector accomplishments in the county’s seven cities during 2013.

    Patsy Van Ouwerkerk

    Patsy Van Ouwerkerk

    Chairperson Patsy Van Ouwerkerk welcomed members and guests and announced that she would be retiring in August from both the EDC and as Travis Credit Union’s chief executive officer. Her successor for both positions will be Barry Nelson, executive vice president for the credit union.

    The luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield attracted over 300 business executives, community leaders and public officials eager to hear a status report from Sandy Person, president of the EDC.

    Sandy Person

    Sandy Person

    “Team Solano worked together to make everything happen by attracting new businesses and creating an environment to nurture newcomers and those already here,” Ms. Person said.

    Travis Air Force Base

    With the goal of diversifying the Solano economy, a comprehensive analysis of the economic impact of Travis AFB on the region’s infrastructure is being made to see how Solano and its cities can grow their economies around the base.

    This study, to be released in June, will also update land use plans to protect Travis AFB, the county’s largest economic engine.

    Boost from wine

    “Clearly, Solano is benefitting from both the wine industry’s strength as well as from the greater economy’s recovery,” Ms. Person said.

    Caymus Vineyards, based in Rutherford with operations in four North Bay counties, is expanding to Solano with the purchase of the Hopkins Ranch on Cordelia Road

    Caymus will build a 132,000-square-foot winery along with a barrel cellar and casegoods warehouse, along with a 25,000 square foot canopy for processing grapes and a 32,000 square foot mechanical systems building. There are plans to double barrel and casegoods storage.

    Approximately 150 stainless-steel wine fermentation and storage tanks at this site will have capacity for 6 million gallons.

    Chuck Wagner

    Chuck Wagner

    Chuck Wagner, president of Caymus, was the guest speaker at the luncheon. He provided a brief history of his family’s three generations in winemaking and an overview of his plans to grow winegrapes in Solano.

    “We have lots of ideas, but it’s too early to tell which varietal Solano will become known for,” he said. “The dry soil here is ideal for dark reds.”

    Benicia

    Ms. Person said the city of Benicia was honored by AAA’s Via magazine in its November–December 2013 issue as one of the 50 safest cities in California by SafeWise Security Systems. The city continues to expand its tourism brand with the launch of its economic development site BeniciaBusiness.com.

    Ten Benicia businesses are poised to save $140,000 in energy costs this year through the Business Resource Incentive Program that provides firms in the Benicia Industrial Park with grants and loans to make energy-saving improvements.

    Dixon

    A new 60-unit affordable housing complex in the city of Dixon, called Heritage Commons, was completed.

    Ground was also broken for the construction of the West B Street pedestrian and bicycle underground crossing.

    Fairfield

    A 318,000-square-foot Solano Logistics Center was built on Cordelia Road for wine bottle supplier Encore Glass Company. Two other buildings, totaling 650,000 square feet, are set to be built and leased by Saxco International — another bottling industry leader.

    The Fairfield auto and RV industry is growing with car sales up 32 percent over last year. New firms in this category include CarMax; a Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership, and travel trailer icon Airstream, opening a 100,000-square-foot showroom on Cordelia Road.

    Fairfield’s industrial vacancy rate is down to 4.5 percent, as of the fourth quarter, spurred by the arrival of an H&M store at the Solano Town Center regional mall and the headquarters relocations for both Heretic Brewing Company and ST Johnson to this city.

    By June, the $89.3 million expansion of the Stanton Correctional Facility in Fairfield should be completed adding 362 beds and 127,000 square feet of new space. Some $62 million of the total is from state AB 900 funds.

    Pending a state award of $23 million of SB 1022 funds, construction could begin on a new inmate-training center on Clay Bank Road in Fairfield with a completion cost of $25 million.

    Suisun City

    A train depot improvement project has been launched in Suisun City, using $700,000 in transportation grant funding, to increase the viability and use of this historic commuter rail connection as a hub for connections to local buses and community amenities.

    This project is part of both the city’s General Plan and Downtown Specific Plan updates for the Priority Development Area surrounding the transit center — expected to support 1,040 residential units and 920 jobs during the next 26 years.

    Construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter will begin in 2014 on Walters Road bringing hundreds of new jobs and a new source of sales tax revenue.

    Vacaville

    Janssen Biotech, Inc. is adding a new product line to its facility, creating over 50 new jobs.

    Genentech is activating its cell-culture plant 2, adding more than 200 new positions at what is largest biotech manufacturing facility in the world.

    Escrow has closed on land for the Jimmy Doolittle Learning Center and its aeronautics program as new and emerging aviation opportunities move into Vacaville and the Nut Tree Airport.

    ICON Aircraft, manufacturer of small sport airplanes, is considering making Vacaville its new global headquarters, in late 2014 or early 2015, complete with a global aviation center for aircraft assembly, sales, customer delivery and flight training.

    This pending ICON facility could eventually employ 500 people and generate over $100 million in economic impact, according to Ms. Person. In addition, she said nine new tenants also have been acquired at the Nut Tree Center.

    Vallejo

    Green innovative homebuilder Blu Homes recently announced plans to relocate its headquarters to Mare Island and is expanding its operations there with the lease of another 117,000 square feet. It opened in 2011 in Bldg. 680 on the island with a lease from Lennar Mare Island of 250,000 square feet.

    The company is closing its Ann Arbor, Mich., facility and moving those operations and many of its 38 employees to Vallejo, bringing its labor force to 130.

    The Solano Community College upgraded its Vallejo campus by adding parking lot solar panels and a 40,000 square foot expansion that includes a new library, student services center, café, along with safety and security measures.

    The California Maritime Academy celebrated a grand opening of its 26,000 square foot dining center and rental space. Construction is also ongoing for a new $26.5 million physical education and aquatic center.

    Touro University’s library received a $2.5 million upgrade, including a renovated pharmacy training center and a $10,000 electric car charging station.

    Avery Green Honda is increasing the size of its showroom to 3,200 square feet, and Momentum Dodge Chrysler Jeep has added a new dealership location on Admiral Callaghan Lane with the firm’s Sonoma Blvd. site serving as its used car sales location.

    Rio Vista

    The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service propose to develop an Estuarine Research Center and Fish Technology Center on 15–17 acres of city of Rio Vista land (a former Army base site) along the Sacramento River.

    This project has potential for creating 160 jobs along with generating a proposed $76 million of federal and state investments.

    The city also has proposed an extension of the Bridge to Beach multi-use pathway, a visitor interpretation center and supporting commercial uses on the remaining 10 acres at this site.

    A $3 million federally-funded EIR/EIS and design process has been initiated by DWR and the California General Services Administration under contract with Horizon Water and Environment, LLC. After a three-year EIR/EIS and design process, construction could begin in 2017–2018.

    Some $161,000 of federal funds has been provided for Rio Vista’s new specific downtown plan. A $450,000 Federal Boating Infrastructure Grant (FBIG) has been received to construct Phase 2 of the Waterfront Promenade Trail.

    In addition, the city awarded a $225,000 FBIG grant to rebuild the Main Street Boat Dock and $300,000 of state boating funds to design a new downtown boat ramp and parking facilities.

    In May 2013 Riovision, a community based group, applied for support from the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Program (R/UDAT) of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

    The goal is to create a more viable business environment, revitalize the waterfront, connect old and new housing stock and adapt as Highway 12 changes over time. In February 2014 the R/UDAT team will come to Rio Vista for a town meeting and to develop this plan.

    “These are only a few of the completed, in-progress or proposed projects in Solano County. I’m seeing lots of energy and growth in the private and public sectors. It’s very exciting,” Ms. Person said. “There’s more on the way.”

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