Economy of Vacaville, California

Vacaville is a city located in Solano County, California, situated halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco. With a population of over 100,000 residents, Vacaville has a diverse and thriving local economy. This article provides an overview of the major industries, employers, income, and economic development initiatives in Vacaville.

Major Industries and Employers

Biotechnology and Life Sciences

The biotechnology and life sciences industry has a strong presence in Vacaville. Some of the major employers in this sector include:

  • Genentech: A biotechnology company focused on developing medicines for cancer, autoimmune disorders, and more. Genentech has a large manufacturing facility in Vacaville and employs over 1,000 people.
  • Kaiser Permanente: Kaiser operates a medical center in Vacaville, employing several hundred physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Valeant Pharmaceuticals: A global pharmaceutical company with a manufacturing and packaging facility in Vacaville.
  • Nutra Manufacturing: Produces dietary supplements and health products. Employs around 500 people.

Food Manufacturing

Several major food production and agriculture companies operate facilities in Vacaville:

  • Pacific Coast Producers: A fruit and tomato processing company, one of the largest employers in Vacaville with over 500 employees.
  • Baron Farms: Grower, packer and shipper of fresh produce. Operates a 250,000 square foot packing facility.
  • Bud’s Custom Meats: Meat processing company supplying restaurants and retailers. Employs around 100 people.
  • Nut Tree Dairy: A local dairy producer processing milk, ice cream and other dairy products.


With its location along Interstate-80 and central to the San Francisco Bay Area, Vacaville has developed into a retail hub. Major retail employers include:

  • Walmart: Operates a Supercenter and employs 300+ people.
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement: Large format home improvement store with around 200 employees.
  • Home Depot: Another home improvement superstore in Vacaville employing 150+ people.
  • Premium Outlets: An outlet mall with over 130 brand name stores.
  • Target, Kohl’s, Best Buy: National big box retail chains with locations in Vacaville.

Other Major Employers

  • Travis Air Force Base: Located just outside Vacaville, it employs over 12,000 military and civilian personnel.
  • Vacaville Unified School District: Operates 15 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 3 high schools, 1 continuation high school. Employs around 1,300 people.
  • Kaiser Permanente Medical Center: See biotech/life sciences section.
  • City of Vacaville: Employs over 500 people in local government.
  • California Medical Facility: A state prison medical facility employing approximately 1,200 staff.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric: Utility company with operations based in Vacaville.

Income and Wages

According to 2019 Census data, the median household income in Vacaville was $89,569, compared to $80,440 statewide. The city had a per capita income of $35,606.

The most common industries for employment in Vacaville are healthcare, retail trade, and manufacturing. Median earnings for full-time workers across these major industry sectors are:

  • Healthcare: $75,200
  • Manufacturing: $65,300
  • Retail Trade: $33,500
  • All Industries: $51,700

Unemployment in the Vacaville area is low, around 3.1% as of October 2022 according to preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is lower than both the statewide (3.6%) and national (3.4%) unemployment rates.

Overall, incomes and wages in Vacaville are above average for California, driven by the presence of high paying jobs in sectors like biotech/life sciences, aerospace, and skilled manufacturing.

Recent Economic Development Initiatives

Vacaville has pursued several initiatives in recent years to support continued economic growth:

Vacaville Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group (VITAL) – Formed in 2018, VITAL is a partnership between the city, business groups, and Solano Community College focused on workforce development in high tech manufacturing and biotech. Goals include aligning college programs with industry needs, providing job training, and marketing Vacaville’s advantages.

Opportunity Zone Incentives – Vacaville has four designated “Opportunity Zones” which provide federal tax incentives for new investment and development. The city is targeting these zones to attract businesses in biotech/life sciences, advanced manufacturing, food/ag and distribution sectors.

Downtown Revitalization – Vacaville’s downtown district has been a focus for economic development through streetscape improvements, a façade improvement program, and a downtown business improvement district. These efforts aim to create a more vibrant downtown to benefit businesses and attract visitors.

Biotechnology Initiative – Vacaville is promoting its biotech advantages and assets to recruit new biomanufacturing and R&D companies. The city’s large cluster of biotech talent and infrastructure positions it for further growth.

Commercial Real Estate Market

Vacaville has a robust commercial real estate sector serving its diverse business community:

  • Office – The city has nearly 5 million square feet of office space concentrated in business parks near I-80. Vacancy rates are around 14%, on par with other suburban markets in the region. Average asking office rents range from $1.50-2.00 per square foot.
  • Industrial – With over 20 million square feet of warehouse, manufacturing, and R&D space, industrial is a major component of Vacaville’s real estate. Vacancy is extremely tight at just 1.5%, indicative of high demand. Asking rents average $0.60 per square foot.
  • Retail – Shopping centers and big box stores account for about 5 million square feet of retail space citywide. Vacancy is higher in retail at around 8%, despite the city’s regional draw as a shopping destination. Retail rents average $1.25/SF.

Overall commercial vacancy has declined over the past decade as the city attracts new businesses. Access to Bay Area markets via I-80 and competitive operating costs make Vacaville an advantageous location for many companies.

Challenges and Future Outlook

While Vacaville has a strong local economy, it faces some challenges looking forward:

  • Housing Affordability – Rapid home price and rent increases make it difficult for new workers to reside in Vacaville despite job growth. More affordable workforce housing will be needed.
  • Infrastructure Constraints – With substantial new development planned, infrastructure like roads, sewers, and energy will require upgrades and expansion.
  • Workforce Development – Employers across sectors report difficulty finding skilled workers. Partnerships between businesses and schools are critical to build the talent pipeline.
  • Business Costs – Operational expenses like utilities, taxes, and labor remain high in California, straining margins for some employers.

Despite these headwinds, Vacaville is poised for continued expansion given its prime location and diverse economic base. With proactive policies around housing, infrastructure, and workforce training, the city can support job and income growth for its residents and business community.


In summary, Vacaville has a robust local economy supported by major employers in biotech, manufacturing, agriculture, aerospace, retail, healthcare and other industries. Wages tend to be higher than statewide averages across most sectors. Recent economic development initiatives combined with the city’s strategic location, strong demographics, and business-friendly environment should lead to additional employment and investment in Vacaville going forward.


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  • Take I-80 E from SF. After 55 mi, take exit 43A to I-505 N. Drive 15 mi, take exit 29 to Vaca Valley Pkwy. Turn right, go 3.5 mi. Turn left on Leisure Town Rd, destination on right after 0.9 mi.
  • From SF, take I-80 E. After 1 hr, take exit 43A to I-505 N. Go 15 mi, take exit 29 to Vaca Valley Pkwy. Turn right, go 3.5 mi. Turn left on Leisure Town Rd, destination 0.9 mi on right.
  • From SF on I-80 E, drive 55 mi. Take exit 43A to I-505 N. After 15 mi take exit 29 to Vaca Valley Pkwy. Turn right, go 3.5 mi. Turn left on Leisure Town Rd, drive 0.9 mi, destination on right.