Economic Notes: Regional partnerships can spur economic development

February 18 2019

Daily Republic 2/17/19

By Brian Miller and Paul Nguyen

The world of planning and economic development is a competitive one. Neighboring cities regularly compete with one another to land the next big regional retailer, the prestige restaurant or the new major employer. Sometimes, however, it is not effective or productive to “go it alone.”

This week, we dive into the importance of regional partnerships and look at some of the city of Fairfield’s joint planning and economic development efforts.

For the big-picture items (including major transportation, housing and planning programs), Fairfield works with other jurisdictions in the nine-county Bay Area through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Association of Bay Area Governments. This regional agency attempts to integrate national, state and regional goals and objectives with federal and state transportation funding. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Association of Bay Area Governments also is the regional agency responsible for regional housing goals required by state law. The agencies hold frequent public and agency outreach efforts to gauge the best approaches to meeting the challenges that face the region.

Economic development efforts also spill over city boundaries and county lines. Workers seeking housing or jobs, consumers looking to buy groceries and other goods and businesses seeking to invest in their next development project or location don’t stop looking when they hit a city’s invisible borders. Companies that land in one jurisdiction employ workers throughout the region. Companies source goods or provide services to other companies and consumers across a region.

Like most cities, Fairfield is not just competing against our neighbors to land the next big development project or investment. We are competing against other states and even countries. To take advantage of scale and pooling resources, the city partners with the Solano County Economic Development Corporation to leverage the region’s competitive advantage in attracting new businesses. The Economic Development Corporation is a public-private nonprofit organization dedicated to the economic growth of Solano County – scaling local traded sector industries, attracting new jobs and investment and maintaining competitive advantages for both existing and new businesses. The Economic Development Corporation works collaboratively with each city and partner organization in Solano County.

The city of Fairfield works closely with Solano Economic Development Corporation in business recruitment efforts, workforce training and regional efforts to improve the local economy. The mayor and city manager serve on Solano Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors along with representatives from other Solano County agencies and key private sector leaders.

One element of a strong local economy is a vibrant, multifunctional, regional transportation system. The city of Fairfield works very closely with the local Congestion Management Agency, the Solano Transportation Authority, which was created in 1990 through a joint powers agreement between the cities of Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Suisun City, Vacaville, Vallejo and the county of Solano. As the Congestion Management Agency for the Solano area, the Solano Transportation Authority partners with various transportation and planning agencies, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and California Department of Transportation District 4.

Working with its local partners, the Solano Transportation Authority takes the lead on several regional transportation projects, including (recently) the Jepson Parkway, the North Connector, the new Interstate 80/680/Highway 12 interchange, regional bicycle and pedestrian planning and improvements to local train stations and the Fairfield Transportation Center. The Solano Transportation Authority provides funding to local cities, including Fairfield, for planning efforts related to transportation and urban redevelopment goals and objectives. Mayor Harry Price is the Fairfield representative on the Solano Transportation Authority’s governing board.

Sometimes local services can best be provided through a cooperative arrangement. The Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District provides wastewater collection services and treatment at its Cordelia Road plant for both cities and select county areas where public health and safety requires sewer service rather than septic systems. The city works closely with sewer district in planning for future residential, commercial and industrial growth. The city of Fairfield maintains the laterals to the district’s sewer mains.

This short list only highlights a few of the cooperative and regional initiatives in which the city of Fairfield participates. There a numerous other partnership examples, including collaboration with the Fairfield-Suisun and Travis school districts, cooperative water treatment programs with the city of Vacaville, open space planning programs under the aegis of the Tri-Cities and County Cooperative Planning Group, and the Solano County Water Agency. “No city is an island,” and that is certainly true for the city of Fairfield.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall. Brian Miller is with the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. Reach him at Paul Nguyen is the economic development manager for the city of Fairfield. Reach him at