Economic development, marketing exec to take over Solano EDC

October 19 2017

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Vallejo Times-Herald

Posted: 10/18/17, 3:15 PM PDT |

A veteran economic development and marketing executive will lead the Solano Economic Development Corp., agency officials announced Wednesday.

Robert “Bob” Burris, who now oversees and manages economic development for the City of Fairfield, takes over the reins of the EDC — the public-private partnership charged with bringing business, commerce and jobs to Solano County — starts his new gig Jan 1, he said. He succeeds longtime president and CEO Sandy Person.

“We are ecstatic that we were able to find someone with the skills, experience and local knowledge we were looking to acquire,” said Louise Walker, president and CEO of First Northern Bank, who chairs the Solano EDC Board of Directors. “Our organization is at a pivotal juncture. We are refocusing our mission to attract new enterprises that bring well-paying jobs, that diversify our local economy and that are innovative and looking to grow with us.”

Burris, she said, is well-equipped to “hit the ground running” thanks to his broad experience and his current role for the City of Fairfield, and he said he agrees.

The Sacramento resident said he and his wife and daughter will likely move to the county eventually, but having worked for the City of Fairfield the past two years, he’s used to the commute. He said he’s excited about his new role.

“I think this is a region that’s incredibly diverse — from agriculture, to ocean view to rolling hills,” he said. “It’s proximity in Northern California — touching on the Bay Area and the Sacramento region — is an advantage to our area.”

Before leading Fairfield’s economic development activities, Burris was deputy director and executive vice president of the Sacramento Area Commerce & Trade Organization, where he spent 15 years in its leadership team, leading the marketing and business attraction team for the entire capital region, Walker said. He’s also been the agency’s public “voice.”

Before that, was as an associate with EPS, an economic and planning consultant group, and a manager for the real estate brokerage firm, Grubb & Ellis Co.

“This is my passion, this is what I’m wired to do,” Burris said, “I really do eat and breathe marketing, economic development, and strategic partnerships. And I love hitting the road to tell the story about why ‘Solano Means Business’ and why this county has so much to offer the next major employer looking for a new home or a place to expand.”

Burris said the bulk of his career has been specializing in business attraction and expansion, and that’s where he’ll concentrate his efforts in Solano County.

“So, it will be marketing and branding heavy and my goal is to really increase the Solano region’s visibility,” he said. “The goal of any EDC is to understand over time the needs and assets of the cities within the county. I’m excited to get started.”

That won’t be until January, as he ensures a smooth transition in the City of Fairfield, he said.

Person said she’s looking forward to whatever the future holds, and leaves the position feeling like she’s accomplished what she set out to do.

“I hope I helped people recognize how special Solano County is; how important it is that we work together, to celebrate our successes, address our challenges and push forward to being proactive and continue to strive to make our residents and community more empowered with new employment opportunities,” she said. “I’m both exhilarated and exited to see what opportunities there are out there. Change is good for folks and for organizations. It brings about new ideas, thinking, energy.”

Burris said he sees it that way, too.

“I think this is a region in transition, and there are a tremendous number of opportunities out there,” he said.

Contact Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824.