Economic Notes: Solano deserves Amazon’s attention

October 02 2017

By Daily Republic From page B7 | October 01, 2017

The public has been inundated with news about Amazon’s hunt for what they call a second headquarters or “HQ2.”

Every major media outlet in the United States and beyond has gotten into the game of predicting the winner of this economic development “beauty contest” and it is interesting to read the rationales for why Amazon should choose one city or another. Some seem relatively accurate; some based on entertainment value; and some frankly are completely off-base.

Your columnists could not resist the chance to jump into the contest, so here is our explanation for why Amazon should choose Solano County.

San Jose and San Francisco can boast a world-class labor force, technology investment like no other location on Earth and a beautiful coastal location; but can’t get past a nearly impossible cost of living, scarcity of housing and/or space for such a major facility.

Sacramento appears to be proposing a strong alternative with its overall growth, notoriety from a new arena and substantial improvement of its downtown core as an entertainment destination, greater affordability and potential space for such a facility; but most employment growth is still in construction and retail, the growing tech base has not materialized, there are no other Fortune 500 headquarters and the metro area is a stretch in terms of accessing the San Francisco Bay Area.

Solano County and Fairfield have not popped up in economic development circles as a potential site, plain and simple. When viewing some of the maps of the top 20, 30 or 50 locations from news outlets, our area is usually an unlabeled space between two metro areas. When really viewing the request for proposals, however, one could ask, “Why not Solano?”

Solano is ideally located between the most business-desirable locations in Northern California, namely the San Francisco Bay Area, Napa and the Sacramento region. Our county offers access to all of these locations within 60 miles as well as a unique range of transportation links, including major freeways, California Capitol Corridor Amtrak train and major freight railroad routes. Sacramento International Airport is less than an hour away, with Oakland International and San Francisco International nearly as close. Solano County within that same 60 miles has access to several major ports including Oakland, Sacramento and Stockton.

What about the requirement of having a million people in the metro area? Solano County boasts 1.4 million people within 40 miles, 7 million within 60 miles.

So what about a specific location? Fairfield recently adopted a Specific Plan – the Train Station Specific Plan – that will allow for the development of thousands of new homes, commercial areas and a major industrial area which could support several million square feet of new development. How do people get to the facility? The entire development is supported by a new roadway system, but equally as exciting, a train station on the Capitol Corridor route to access talent from both the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento regions.

Solano has other options as well: more than 300 acres ready for development in Vacaville with direct access to Interstate 80, and an assemblage of real estate in and around the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo. There will likely be other candidate sites as well.

Yes, it is a long-shot. There is absolutely no doubt about that. But when you really look at what is being asked, Solano County deserves to be in the running for HQ2.

Over the coming weeks the city of Fairfield will be working closely with the Solano Economic Development Corporation and the governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to officially submit a proposal package. We won’t be sending a 20-foot-tall cactus, a cowbell, a cellphone with our number on it or any other gimmick that will likely never make its way past the Amazon HQ side Dumpster. We will submit information on our amenities and our strong desire to host one the largest corporate locations in the U.S.

If Amazon chooses Solano County, we can offer them perfect access to the most desirable business location in the U.S.: Northern California.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Robert Burris of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or by email at rburris@fairfield.ca.gov or bkmiller@fairfield.ca.gov.

http://www.dailyrepublic.com/solano-news/solano-business/local-business-columnists/economic-notes-solano-deserves-amazons-attention/