Business summit draws educators, politicians to Vallejo

By Jessica A. York / Times-Herald staff writer
Posted: 11/23/2013, 01:02:16 PST

An economic summit focusing on the synergy between education and economic development drew several dozen to Solano Community College on Friday.

The sixth annual Business and Economic Development Symposium and Luncheon, hosted by the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Solano County, has focused on everything from green technology to improving relations with "sister cities" abroad.

This year's event featured Rep. Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Ramona Bishop and educators from Solano Community College, Touro University and California Maritime Academy as key speakers.

"It's important that we understand that talent, ideas, collaboration and connectivity have become the main competitive advantage in the new global economy," said symposium moderator Sandy Person, the Solano Economic Development Corporation president. "Economic regions are not simply defined by political boundaries, but by connectivity and industry clusters, labor markets, supporting infrastructure and, at its core, our educational system."

Bishop expanded on the school district's career academies -- small learning groups guiding students toward various college or career pathways, which are now "wall-to-wall" -- meaning inclusive of all students from grade 10 onward.

Representatives from Vallejo's three higher education institutions shared how Touro's students are connecting with the larger community through public service outreach; how Solano Community College is focusing its course offerings on what is relevant to the region and workforce; and Cal Maritime is building a new gymnasium that may be of value to the larger community when school is out for the summer.

"One of the values, well beyond economic numbers, the values and the resources and the importance of having a college is in your community ... is the way that the students, the faculty and staff, can start to interact with the community," said Cal Maritime Vice President of Student Affairs Stephen Kreta. "Every day we are getting closer and closer to Vallejo."

Touro's College of Education and Health Dean Jim O'Connor told the audience that its graduate education is being offered at schools across the region, to improve accessibility.

"We want to make a difference," O'Connor said. "When you think about cities like Palo Alto, Berkeley, Davis, what do you think about? You think about university towns. My goal is to add Vallejo to that list."

For more information on the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, visit www.faccsolano.com or call 556-5800.

Contact staff writer Jessica A. York at 553-6834 or jyork@timesheraldonline.com. Follow her on Twitter @JYVallejo.