The Jelly Belly Candy Co. opened a manufacturing plant in fairfield in 1986; as of December, it employed 480 workers.

(Photo courtesy of the City of Fairfield)

Assembly Line

Can the state increase regulation and create manufacturing jobs

This summer, the Milken Institute released its second report on manufacturing in California. Seven years the institute sounded the alarm that California was losing its manufacturing edge, the driving force for postwar prosperity from the aerospace industry through high technology. The institute said policy makers should pay attention to the state’s manufacturing decline.

Sep 1, 2009 Tony Quinn
The Edmund G. Brown California Aqueduct (shown here near Westley in Stanislaus County) stretches about 400 miles, carrying water from Northern California to users in the south.

Hydrating the System

The state's water woes and its faltering economy

Most recognized California as “the Golden State” long before lawmakers adopted the official nickname in 1968. But while California’s standing as the land of big ideas and golden opportunities is well-earned, so too is its recent reputation as a state in perpetual crisis. In few places is this more evident than the state’s ongoing debate over its aging and unsustainable water management system.

Sep 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Steve Currall, incoming dean of the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis

Passing the Buck

Are MBA programs a beneficiary of a falling economy?

Many things can claim victim status in the wake of the current economy, but local MBA programs aren’t one of them.

Despite significant tuition costs, ranging from $12,000 to $40,000, MBA programs are at worst holding steady in enrollments, and many are actually enjoying surges — not just in applications but in qualified applications.

Aug 1, 2009 Bill Romanelli
Christi Black, managing director, Ogilvy Public Relations found new digs at 1414 K St.

The Tenets of Leasing

The pros and cons of relocating in today's market

The smart landlords are doing whatever it takes to keep old tenants and lure new ones. That includes free rent, bigger allowances for tenant improvements, free signs and plain old cash. “If there is less than two years remaining on the lease, a savvy landlord really should be talking to them about extending,” Frisch says. “Oftentimes landlords and property managers don’t start that conversation until it is much later in the lease term.” But if a tenant is in good enough financial shape to keep paying the rent, very few landlords will renegotiate a deal with more than two years left, Frisch says.

Aug 1, 2009 Robert Celaschi
(Photo illustration: C.J. Burton)

Organizational Misbehavior

Are you grooming or stifling tomorrow's leaders?

With the national economy stumbling along like a wounded animal, the only steady growth these days is in the number of workers being shown the door. But while layoffs can be demoralizing, those workers who remain on the job may find “the Great Recession” to be a huge career booster.

Aug 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen

Overdue reform

Out of money, out of time

California is running out of money, pure and simple. As we go to press, the state is finalizing the budget and lurching from one financial crisis to the next thanks to elected leaders who put politics above fiscal responsibility.

Aug 1, 2009 Winnie Comstock-Carlson

Air Time

Mary Nichols on statewide solutions to global issues

Mary Nichols is no stranger to innovation. As one of the nation’s first environmental attorneys, Nichols has spent her career protecting natural resources at the state and federal level. She also served as the California Air Resources Board Chairwoman from 1978 to 1983, and now she’s at it again.

Aug 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Students at Folsom Lake College receive hands-on training in classrooms such as these used to teach water and wastewater management.

(Photo courtesy of Los Rios Community College District)

Filling the Gaps

How local colleges plan to meet work force needs

It may seem odd that local colleges, universities and vocational schools are putting energy into building a large base of qualified workers in an economy that is already showing double-digit unemployment and forcing many to leave retirement.

Aug 1, 2009 Bill Romanelli
From May 2008 to May 2009 the price of lumber and plywood fell 13.8 percent nationwide, and suppliers such as Pacific Coast Building Products' Anderson Lumber are grappling with the aftermath.

Material Witness

Construction costs' momentary lapse of reason

The cost of lumber, steel, asphalt and other construction materials has been on a wild ride since the early part of this decade, but don’t be fooled by the relatively placid prices in 2009. Industry players say it’s likely just a brief respite before the roller coaster starts climbing again.

Aug 1, 2009 Adam Weintraub

20th Anniversary

A sober celebration

For all of us at Comstock’s, this month is a cause for great celebration — and for a sobering assessment. We are celebrating 20 remarkable years in the business of delivering insightful commentary to the Capital Region’s business leaders. At the same time we are assessing what the next year or two, or 10, will mean for the magazine and for all of us in the region.

Jul 1, 2009 Winnie Comstock-Carlson
Ken Skoonberg, 97, likes the PACE program and says he doesn't miss a day.

Choices, Choices

Health care makes adjustments for the boom

Boomers are booming, and skilled-nursing and long-term care facilities are struggling to keep up. But the focus isn’t on beds and population numbers alone. Baby boomers are a picky bunch, and they’re not likely to rest easy with the status quo, say caretakers, many of whom are seniors themselves. That’s part of the reason rehab care has taken on a new face in the past few years, one that’s focused on a philosophy change about senior care.

Jul 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
Amy Mathews, corporate banking manager, Mechanics Bank.

Info Mobile

How smart phones are changing the face of business

Late on a work night, Amy Mathews picked up her ringing BlackBerry to find a frantic customer on the other end. On an airplane nearing departure for Buenos Aires, a woman realized her debit card was on the verge of expiration. She would be out of the country for weeks without an easy way to access cash. Mathews knew she held the solution in her palm. From her BlackBerry, the corporate banking manager at Mechanics Bank fired off a couple emails and got a new debit card ordered in minutes.

Jul 1, 2009 Kyle Monk

Sacramento Development

"De-malling" Sacramento

Forty years ago, pedestrian malls became the rage across America. As cities tried to revitalize their downtowns to compete with fancy new suburban shopping malls, more than 200 cities and towns — including Sacramento — closed streets to traffic and parking, planted trees and installed fountains and benches to create pedestrian-friendly retail areas.

Jun 1, 2009 Winnie Comstock-Carlson

Lady of the House

Doris Matsui on what is takes to build a better Capital Region

When most people think of action heroes, they do so in Hollywood terms: big, brawling, muscle-bound guys for whom compromise is always a dirty word. But in politics, brute force rarely holds sway over the art of the deal. In that regard, Doris Matsui, who represents much of Sacramento in Congress, may just be our very own action star.

May 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Marc Ross, a senior associate with CB Richard Ellis in Sacramento, specializes in investment and multifamily property.

Apartment Complex

Multifamily buyers build up cash and wait for bargains

The credit crunch and other broad changes in economic conditions cut a wide swath through the ranks of potential buyers. Those who are left are biding their time, lining up cash and waiting for a sweet deal, probably a distressed property at a bargain price. But far fewer multifamily properties are facing the default notices that helped drive down prices for single-family homes, and many landlords are trying to ride out the storm. The result is very few deals.

May 1, 2009 Adam Weintraub
Benicia paid consultants $40,000 to help with a branding strategy; among the recommendations were revitalizing and bringing people to the downtown waterfront, shown here.

Secret Destination

Solano hopes to attract travel spending by uncovering its image

If Napa County is wine country and Calaveras County is frog-jumping territory, where does that leave a place like Solano? Trying to catch up, perhaps.Thirty years ago Napa County was where Solano is today, says Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan. In 1992, Napa brought in $361 million in tourism revenue, and with $319 million, Solano wasn’t far behind. Fast-forward to 2006: Napa brought in almost $890 million, but Solano’s revenue only rose to $554 million.

May 1, 2009 Sukhjit Purewal