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It’s time to tell the Solano County story.

Four years of Solano County’s economic development studies has shown that we are not what other people think we are.

Many in the Bay Area and Sacramento see Solano as a pass through agricultural open space area devoted to suburban sprawl growth patterns with lower-income job opportunities. They wrongly believe that Solano is either on the Bay Area fringe or the in between rest stop when traveling between San Francisco and Sacramento.

So what is Solano’s story?

Solano is the emerging growth center at the heart of the Northern California Mega Region.

 The factual indicators presented in four years of economic development and industry cluster studies tell the true Solano story.

These studies, conducted by Collaborative Economics of San Jose, reveal clearly the long-term trend numbers.  Solano Economic Development Corporation wanted to have solid research which would point toward trends in the private sector—trends that would show opportunities for new growth and higher paying jobs for residents. With funding from the County of Solano, the these EDC studies show that our community and business leaders have made wise choices on how to grow both physically as well as connect economically as the heart of a growing 12 million consumer Northern California Mega Region.

In a short 30 years, Solano’s economy changed from a primarily agriculture- and government services-based economy into a diverse economy with five major new clusters in life sciences/biotechnology, renewable energy production, professional services/higher education, state-of-the-art health care centers, and logistics.

For example, add up the numbers for the adjacent communities of Vacaville, Fairfield, Suisun City, Benicia, Vallejo, American Canyon and Napa.  Those numbers add up to 350,000 population-sized city that is the fourth largest in the Bay area, with more than 40,000 university and college students, and home to the last major Department of Defense facility employing over 15,000.

Solano’s center to the Northern California Mega Region is also the logistical  gateway to the world. Solanoans have access to three major passenger and freight international airports as well as the fourth largest port in the nation. Solanoans are less than hour to most of the major urban Northern California business and tourism attractions and the political capitol of California. Frankly, Solano has the best weather since “it’s always sunny in Solano.”

The vitality or our communities and residents has allowed Solano County to weather the economic storm much better than some of our neighboring counties.

In 2008 and 2009 alone some 2,500 new small businesses opened their doors in Solano.  That’s a tremendous number and has gone a long way toward providing income for many many families.

Our unemployment rates, even though too high—much too high—are lower than rates in surrounding counties.  And, the good news is that late last year we saw a dip in the jobless rates.  Another positive – our four-year college graduation rate has increased 26 per cent since 2005

Researchers conclude there is a vitality alive in Solano.

This view is seconded by Doug Hosley, interim vice chancellor for university relations at the U.C. Merced campus.  Hosley says Solano’s “…vitality is making a difference” in the county’s economic picture.

It’s time for all of us to take a new step forward and go tell the new Solano story, using the real facts  to change the minds of business and community leaders.

Once others begin to recognize Solano as the true heart for the Bay Area and Sacramento mega-regions we will see more opportunities for good paying jobs and increased tax revenues to maintain the high levels of service that has made Solano such a great place to live.

To view the 2010 Economic Index visit www.solanocounty.com/economicindex.