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GO-Biz exec finds opportunity at Mare Island manufacturer

MARE ISLAND — The director of GO-Biz, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, toured the Factory_OS facility on Mare Island on Tuesday, a prelude to an anticipated visit by Gov. Gavin Newsom in the fall.

The visit also served as an endorsement of Opportunity Zones and the economic promise supporters believe they hold. Vallejo has six of the zones, which are determined by low-income census tracks.

“Opportunity Zones can be an excellent tool that allow local leaders and communities to define their region’s critical infrastructure needs and then address those needs. The engagement of cities like Vallejo on Opportunity Zones, to invite investments in the city to benefit all residents, is a perfect example of this tool at work,” Lenny Mendonca, director of GO-Biz, said in a statement.

“Community and capital working on shared goals is how we will build a resilient, sustainable and inclusive economy that works for all Californians,” Mendonca added.

Opportunity Zones is a program created by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 – that brings private, long-term investment to low-income communities across the country. It allows investors to “reinvest their unrealized capital gains into dedicated Opportunity Funds,” material on the program states.

Mare Island, which has experienced a rush of economic development in the past 18 months, is one of those Opportunity Zones.

Factory_OS is adding 100,000 additional square feet of space to its 260,000 square feet in the iconic shipyard Building 680. The addition is dedicated to building emergency housing for areas affected by natural disasters. The company hired its 225th employee this past week, said Slater Matzke, an economic development adviser to Vallejo.

City officials have said they believe the economic development on Mare Island will eventually lead to similar economic growth in the downtown area and along the waterfront.

The expansion of Costco in the Cook-Fairview site is another catalyst for the city. Costco is the city’s top sales tax generator,

Yet another piece of that “big picture,” City Manager Greg Nyhoff said, is the county’s Solano360 project at the fairgrounds.

The whole focus is on creating jobs for the unemployed, but also so some of the 20,000 city residents who leave Vallejo each day to go to work can find employment closer to home.

Look for an expanded feature this weekend in the Daily Republic.

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