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Airport park event makes pitch for new business

Several out-of-town representatives will attend
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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Representatives from several out-of-town businesses will be among more than 100 people expected at Auburn Industry 2012 today at the Auburn Airport – the culmination of more than a year’s effort to raise awareness and lure new companies to the adjoining industrial park. The event, hosted by the city, Placer County and the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce, will feature a tour of the facilities and briefings from several high-profile individuals on why they located in Auburn and what it is like to do business there. Scheduled to give briefings are Don Whitaker, CEO of Ceronix; Douglas Van Howd, a world-renowned sculptor and painter; Art Armstrong Jr., vice president of Armstrong Technology Inc.; Robb Moore, CEO of ioSafe; and Tom Dwelle, CEO of Flyers Energy. “That’s what seals the deal it’s the camaraderie,” said Bridget Powers, chairperson of Auburn Industry 2012 and Auburn City Council member. “It’s how all the airport users are working together. So I believe this will help some people make a decision that this would be a place they would want to live and work.” That’s a decision 20 new businesses have made to move to the airport since 2010, and negotiations are currently underway for more to come, Powers said. Auburn Mayor Kevin Hanley, who will be giving some welcoming remarks, said this week he received a call from the CEO of a cybersecurity firm with 100 employees in San Francisco and London. “He was thinking about locating at the Auburn Airport business park and was also looking at the well-qualified potential employees he could hire locally,” Hanley said. “We gave him a couple tickets to attend.” He said high-tech companies have the flexibility to locate in a place like Auburn. “Instead of being near a big port they can be near a municipal airport at the junction of I-80 and Highway 49,” Hanley said. “They don’t have to be in Silicon Valley or Los Angeles; they can come up to the Sierra foothills.” Powers said she knew of a couple out-of-area CEOs who can’t attend the event but have scheduled private tours – and that’s where a lot of the deals get made. Attendees will start their day at 8 a.m. with breakfast, followed by remarks from Hanley, Placer County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Jennifer Montgomery and Chamber President Richard Hall. After that will be bus tours of the airport and the executive briefings before a noon luncheon and expo at The Ridge Golf Course and Events Center, where financial adviser and business reporter Kelly Brothers will give a keynote address on the local and regional economy. Participants cap their day with the option of nine holes of golf, tastings on Auburn’s wine trail or shopping in the historic districts. Tickets for the day are $99. Auburn Industry 2012 is just part of the “bigger picture” of economic development and marketing outside of the area that has included sending lifestyle videos to 1,700 manufacturing firms that would fit at the park, Powers said. In the next six months, the Economic Development Commission will continue its outreach program that started in August to make 15,000 contacts to California CEOs, said City Manager Bob Richardson. Richardson said preparations have begun to clear a new area to develop new commercial land at the airport. “We’re beginning to see the market demand increase sufficiently to warrant that effort,” he said. Future projects include building another row of hangars and a new monument sign on Highway 49, Powers said. Contact Jon Schultz at jons@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews.