EDC focused on manufacturing prep, growth

June 28 2024

Daily Republic June 28, 2024

Todd R. Hansen


FAIRFIELD — The Solano EDC will use a $500,000 grant it received to develop a plan to market its industrial sites.


"So, we are going to have a (Request for Proposals) going out to consultants to find out how we can make those areas ... shovel-ready," Chris Rico, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corp., said Thursday in a phone interview.


The grant came from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments.


In an interview that followed a presentation of economist Robert Eyler's Index of Economic and Community Indicators report to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Rico said there are a number of challenges.


On top of that list is energy.


"We have been challenged at times when we haven't had power" to offer industry looking at Solano, Rico said.


Development of clean, sustainable energy is critical for Solano County and everywhere else. 


He also has staff, headed by Nicole Mook, trying to help existing companies reduce their energy needs. It is part of her focus on retention and expansion of Solano businesses.


Rico also noted the need to have a workforce that manufacturing and advanced manufacturing companies need when they do come to the county.


In that same arena is a push to have the county and the cities to develop their own advanced manufacturing strategies.


An alliance with the California Manufacturing & Technology Association, Rico said, is a helpful step, too.

The wildcard, he added, is California Forever.


Rico said even if the ballot measure for the new community fails, he does not think California Forever is going to disappear.


"I think they are here for the long haul," said Rico, and emphasizing the investor group's ability to bring advanced manufacturing to the county.


He said along with California Forever, the county also has the Mare Island development group, and the potential of Solano360, and if they all come to fruition, the county is going to have a workforce shortfall.


Still, he agrees with Eyler that the manufacturing sector is the key to the county's economic future.

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