Is Napa’s wine-based economy too one-sided? Some argue for diversification | Local News

The shrinking of economic diversification hasn’t only been in agriculture. The county has seen its business mix shift in recent decades.

In the early 1990s, local businesses included the Dey Labs pharmaceutical company and Napa Pipe. Mare Island Naval Shipyard in nearby Solano County still employed more than 1,000 Napa County residents, even as it prepared to close. All of these jobs are gone.

Meanwhile, over the past decade, a once-struggling Napa downtown has seen rebirth with new wine country tourist-serving hotels and restaurants. The downtown has tapped into the county’s wine industry success.

Napa County has 21% of its direct employment connected with the hospitality sector. Among other destination economies, Charleston, South Carolina has 19%, Santa Barbara 17%, Santa Cruz 17% and Boulder, Colorado 14%, according to University of California, Berkeley student research done for the city of Napa.

In the city of Napa, manufacturing jobs fell from 4,830 in 2008 to 4,063 in 2017. Meanwhile, accommodation and food services jobs rose from 4,412 to 6,258, the research found.

“The need to attract new sectors at Napa is quite high as it isn’t sustainable to rely on selected few businesses, especially with the threat of wildfires in Napa Valley,” the researchers advised the city.

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