Category: Economy

Fresno State named one of the 100 best schools in the country

Advance Kern incentive program aims to bolster industries throughout county

The county has been drawing attention with its new Advance Kern business incentives, and hopes to soon have companies sign up for this program, which allows eligible companies to earn tax rebates when they relocate to the county or expand their operations here.

The program is being actively marketed by the Kern Economic Development Corp., which launched a website last month.

Teresa Hitchcock, assistant county administrative officer for economic and workforce development, said that although the process of relocating business is “lengthy” and the program is still in its early stages since being voted on by the County Board of Supervisors in November, she expects to see an application soon.

“As soon as we bring an agreement to the board…you would probably see the business up and running within the next 12 months,” Hitchcock said.

Richard Chapman, president and CEO of Kern EDC, said the program has already gained some attention and could be a “game-changer” for the local economy. In a state that offers few incentives and is ranked #48 in business tax climate by the Tax Foundation, Chapman said the county has taken it into their own hands to promote business.

“This is an important part of the toolkit when you look at site selection factors,” Chapman said.

This incentive program hopes to diversify county industries from current key players like agriculture, energy and government employers such as Edwards Air Force Base.

“It’s about investment in the region, be it companies coming in, as well as companies expanding their local operations,” Chapman said.

According to an industry snapshot provided by Kern EDC, agriculture-type workers are about 20 percent of the county’s workforce. Oil, gas and mining jobs declined at an average 8.1 percent annually the last five years, although oil is now picking back up.

Hitchcock said that with the recent downturn of oil and mechanization of agriculture, the time has come to bring in new business. Companies that sign up must meet certain criteria, such as bringing in jobs that pay above a living wage.

“We want to make sure that we’re enticing people that really will impact local economy,” Hitchcock said.

Chapman called these types of employers “multipliers” that can help create additional jobs in related fields. Target industries include aerospace and defense and health care services.

Bill Deaver, a board member for the Mojave Air and Space Port and for Kern EDC, said the incentives could help to bolster aerospace, which he said is booming, but also bring in new options, especially in the eastern part of Kern County.

“The whole county needs to diversify…you can’t put all your eggs in one basket,” Deaver said.

The county also recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment to implement the East Kern Economic Diversification plan. Three county employees are being hired to work with area leaders in brining a study that was published in 2017 to fruition.

The primary goals of the plan, according to its text, are: (1) business development, (2) talent development and recruitment, (3) innovation and entrepreneurship, (4) tourism and visitor attraction, and (5) regional collaboration.

These employees would do work similar to Kern EDC, which markets Advance Kern incentives and other benefits of doing business in Kern County.

“We’ve got a lot to offer and some of the brightest people in the world,” Deaver said of eastern Kern.

The Advance Kern program also works on a case-by-case basis. Any business that applies will be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors, and a public hearing will discuss what the business can bring to the county.

Joe Rentfro, executive vice president of real estate for Tejon Ranch Company and a board member for Kern EDC, collaborated in the development of Advance Kern. He said the county was innovative in emphasizing job creation and ensuring that the incentive is not given until business is developed and benefits are reached.

From his perspective, Rentfro said, Advance Kern is already “helping to attract the interest of companies from outside the area.”

Rentfro said the program is a “safe bet” for the county, as it simply reimburses from companies’ own tax payments. He also pointed out that the policy stipulates that offsite developments must be built in an area with appropriate infrastructure and zoning, thus preventing expense to the county.

FRESNO AIRPORTS ECONOMIC IMPACT PEGGED AT $788.5M

Published On August 2, 2018 – 1:52 PM
Written By The Business Journal Staff

The Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) system, including Fresno’s Chandler Executive Airport (FCH), generates just shy of $1 billion in economic punch, according to new data.

The annual business activity report examines the revenue and jobs contribution of both airports, which are owned by the City of Fresno but operate as independent enterprises.

Some highlights from the study include:

Airport activity, including the visitor industry and non-aviation real estate tenants on airport property, brings an annual direct contribution of $788.5 million to the regional economy.

Employment at both airports generates 9,307 direct, induced, and indirect jobs in the Fresno area.

Business revenue including salaries, purchases and taxes, and including the visitor industry and non-aviation real estate tenants on airport property, totals $559.8 million annually.

Re-sending and Consumption, which regards the purchase and services of goods produced locally, generated $228.7 million annually.

Out of the $788.5 million, business and tourism visitors arriving through FAT spend $184.2 million annually in the region.

Since the Great Recession in 2010, FAT has grown 36 percent in passenger traffic, and in the first half of this year, has experienced a 12.7 percent increase in passenger volume.

“As a major driver of regional economic activity and jobs, it is important that we invest in the future and plan for the continued growth of both airports,” said Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle. “The completion of Master Plan Updates for both airports will provide the framework to ensure future travel needs are met to further support a growing and prosperous economy for the region.”

https://thebusinessjournal.com/fresno-airports-economic-impact-pegged-at-788-5m/

City of Tehachapi approves permits for Walmart construction

TEHACHAPI — The city of Tehachapi finalized and approved building permits Tuesday with Eleven Western Builders, Inc., clearing the path for construction of the new Walmart store to begin next week.

City officials gathered in the city hall annex with Eleven Western Builder’s Superintendent Craig Stewart for the start of what City Manager Greg Garrett called “the next chapter in the Walmart book.”

The process of getting the new Walmart has been going on for about nine years due to legal hurdles and the process of contracts and permits, said city Development Services Director Jay Schlosser.

Now that permits are complete, Eleven Western Builders can begin construction July 30 with the intent of finishing by spring 2019. The company, Stewart said, is familiar with building in small towns and recently constructed a new Walmart store in Ridgecrest.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Susan Wiggins.

Schlosser said the 12-month construction time frame seems reasonable, especially considering the impacts that winter weather may have on the project.

Schlosser and Garrett both said the city has a partnership with the construction company to help see the project through, and that more shopping opportunities should be coming down the road.

You can watch for dirt and construction equipment to soon begin moving around the lot on Tucker Road and Tehachapi Boulevard.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/city-of-tehachapi-approves-permits-for-walmart-construction/article_dbeabb5e-8f96-11e8-a937-8b822f3767d2.html

Cannabis operation holds groundbreaking in Mendota

Inside an old packing shed on the outskirts of Mendota, a new cannabis operation is moving in, hoping to revitalize the space and the town’s economy.

“While so many have doubted us, I knew we could pull this off,” said Tim McGraw, the CEO of Canna-Hub.

Allowing this massive commercial marijuana business to move in wasn’t easy. It took months of city council meetings and convincing skeptical families.

On Thursday, Canna-Hub finally broke ground on the 16-acre property.

“You got to take some chances in this world, and that’s what the city of Mendota did,” said Mendota city councilmember Robert Silva.

The company itself won’t be growing marijuana. It’s leasing out nine spaces for operators to manufacture or distribute. Tenants can do anything, except for selling marijuana and operating outdoor grows.

“We are about a third already committed, leased out. Pretty good pipeline of very good operators to take the rest of the space,” said Jonathan Charak with Canna-Hub.

The company has promised to generate about 100 jobs. The operation will also bring in about $800,000 to Mendota per year.

“Our general fund is a little above $6 million right now, so $800,000 is a great 17 percent, 18 percent increase, which is a big deal. When it comes to public safety you can never have too much,” said Matt Flood, the Economic Development manager of Mendota.

The money is expected to roll in right away. Canna-Hub expects operators to move into the facility in the next 90 days.

Faraday Future occupies Hanford factory

  • Updated 
Faraday Future Vidak
Senator Andy Vidak shakes hands with YT Jia, founder and global CEO of Faraday Future, at the company’s Hanford facility.

ANFORD — In another milestone for Faraday Future, the electric car company announced July 16 it was awarded a temporary certificate of occupancy for its Hanford factory.

The temporary certificate of occupancy is the first step in final approval required from building and safety inspectors before a new occupant can fully take over a site or structure, move in and start its intended activities full-time as a running business.

This latest development intends to keep the company holding on to its ambitious schedule to start production on its first product by the end of 2018, an electric luxury car called the FF 91.

The lease for the old Pirelli tire plant, a 1-million square foot site in Hanford’s Industrial Park, was signed in August 2017, with major cleanup and infrastructural preparation continuing through this summer. A building permit from the city was given in early June and contractor Bernards signed to lead the construction project.

At the Hanford City Council meeting on July 17, Community Development Director Darlene Mata said parts for over 80 cars to be made have been shipped into the factory.

Mata thanked her staff for all their hard work, especially chief building inspector Tom Webb, who she said walked Faraday Future through the entire process and made sure the inspections were performed.

“It was a team effort,” Mata said. “It was a huge achievement to get them that [certificate] in such a short amount of time and we look forward to continuing that relationship.”

Mata also commended the Faraday Future officials, saying they were collaborative, easy to work with and were always gracious and willing to work with the city toward finding solutions if something wasn’t working out.

Dag Reckhorn, Faraday Future’s senior vice president of manufacturing, said the temporary certificate of occupancy is a step forward and will allow for the ramp-up of assembly for the FF 91 prototypes in the most finished part of the Hanford site.

“The team effort here from all participants to get to this point is indicative of the spirit of this entire project and company,” Reckhorn said in a released statement.

Ayers said the city is appreciative that Faraday Future chose Hanford to produce the advanced automobile.

“The commitment Faraday Future has made to Hanford is matched only by Hanford’s commitment to the company,” Ayers said. “We anticipate a long and mutually-beneficial relationship.”

In turn, Jia said he was impressed by the city’s partnership and commitment with the shared goal of building the FF 91.

“This is a positive step toward delivering our first production vehicle on time,” Jia said in a released statement. “We are grateful for Hanford officials’ partnership in making the [Faraday Future] Hanford factory a top priority.”

Jia said Hanford’s location between Southern California and the Bay Area has several benefits, including being ideal for deliveries. He said city officials have been very collaborative and he’s pleased to be able to bring jobs and add revenue to the area.

“It is exciting for me as an entrepreneur to begin with this small step in building my dream of creating the next-generation mobility products that will change the way people view transportation,” Jia said.

Following the temporary certificate of occupancy, and as aspects of construction move ahead while building the initial prototype cars at the factory, Faraday Future is set to apply for the conditional certificate of occupancy and then the final certificate of occupancy for the first FF 91s.

Faraday Future hopes to create over 1,000 new jobs in the area when it reaches full operating capacity.

https://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/faraday-future-occupies-hanford-factory/article_03346e86-6c5f-5d30-a2ae-1e57f31182df.html#tracking-source=home-top-story

Fresno Food Expo opens with plenty of fancy food, drink and new name

Biggest cold storage in the Valley planning to get even bigger

It’s not your typical summer weather inside Fresno’s US Cold Storage. Temperatures can reach freezing or even as cold as -60 degrees.

US Cold Storage General Manager Kris Sali said, “Normally you can see your breath and glasses fog up, that’s part of the business.”

The Fresno business takes products mostly grown, or made in the Valley, and stores them in cold or freezing temperatures until they’re shipped out to stores.

Workers have to be dressed from head to toe for the cold work.

“It gets pretty cold. The guys do a good job of keeping the work going while in this kind of environment, but we have these heated suits, but its definitely a harsher environment than what people are used to, but in the summer its actually pretty nice,” said Sali.

About 120 million pounds of food is stored on shelves, from Wawona peaches to Challenge butter to McDonald’s hamburgers patties. The cold temperatures are vital to keeping the quality as it travels from the Valley across the nation and even across the world.

“We try to do the best we can to make sure the food is safe because people are going to eat this,” said Sali.

Besides holding the product, they also do flash freezing to -60 degrees.

More than 100 employees help run what is already the biggest cold storage in the Valley, and more will be hired for their new facility.

Because of the demand, US Cold Storage will be expanding. Their second facility in Fresno, just down the road, opens in August.

City Council says yes to program to spur downtown

July 25, 2018

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
A view of buildings in downtown Madera. Hoping to spur redevelopment and revitalization of parts of downtown Madera, the Madera City Council has voted to waive 75 to 100 percent of city plan review and building permit fees for a period of at least the next one to possibly two years.

Hoping to spur redevelopment and revitalization of parts of downtown Madera, the Madera City Council has voted to waive 75 to 100 percent of city plan review and building permit fees for a period of at least the next one to possibly two years.The affected area is bordered by North Gateway Drive and East Yosemite Avenue business corridors, and by East Central Avenue and North Lake Street.

The City Council voted unanimously for the plan July 18.

City Council Member Will Oliver said the plan, called  the Downtown Development Incentive Program, came about after interaction with many residents, business owners and City Council members grappling with high vacancy rates, blight and a long, steady decline of Madera’s downtown business area.

Council Members Jose Rodriguez and Charles Rigby also served on the action subcommittee.

“In my day job as a director of business services, I have been able to see how communities put their best foot forward and become competitive to recruit, and support prospective businesses,” said Oliver. “I really wanted to make this a priority, and began that conversation last year to move forward with incentives, for businesses with aging buildings or in the downtown corridors to reinvest in those spaces,” Oliver said.

The program will allow the waiver of 100 percent of engineering fees and 75 percent of planning and building inspection fees, potentially a savings of $7,000 to $10,000 for a small- to medium-sized commercial business such as a restaurant or retail shop, Oliver said, possibly enough to make or break an improvement project. More in-depth information on the incentive program can be viewed at www.cityofmadera.ca.gov/incentives or contact the city of Madera development department at 661-5430.

The business enterprise zone project will also allow older buildings, 40 years or older, or with those long vacancies anywhere in the city to be remodeled or re purposed with a significant cost savings, designed to provide tax benefits and incentives to business investors.

The program covers the waiver of most city fees for commercial new construction, redevelopment, interior improvements, facade improvements, ADA improvements, or improvements to city streets, sidewalks, or utilities by owners or tenants.  Fees are also waived for buildings also used in conjunction with a tax exempt or non profit operation under the new and temporary program.

Oliver said the effort was a good step in the right direction. “We’d like to be a ‘yes, if’ city, not a ‘no because’ city.” he said. “The results of this should be greater occupancy in and more reinvestment in our downtown, leading to more job creation and more reinvestment in Madera. It should show as a City Council we are committed to business prosperity with this incentive. I think it’s going to work (well) for the community,” he said.

A recent report by a municipal consultant revealed that the city of Madera had failed to collect appropriate and high enough development impact fees (DIF’s) from most developers building in the city for the last three decades, likely to incentivize the entire area for growth, but that decision by city officials and councils had been costly and had severely underfunded the city’s ability to maintain or extend it’s essential infrastructure now.

Targeting just the existing, older downtown corridors for improvement should be cost effective, and help spur and revitalize the areas most in need, Oliver said, and should improve the entire atmosphere for area residents and businesses.

Oliver also said that as chair of the Madera Housing Authority he was taking the first steps and looking into multi-million-dollar state grant funding programs available for Madera downtown, mixed-use residential-commercial and affordable housing projects that prioritize walk-ability, ride sharing, transit projects, etc.

“It’s very preliminary, the menu of projects we’ve submitted to the state.  But we are right now identifying residential properties downtown that could fall within the mixed use, affordable (residential) housing under the California Cap and Trade Programs. This speaks to (significant funding for) our veterans, our seniors, perhaps even our millennials who are early in their careers for the second and maybe third floor, of our downtown spaces. Madera has a great shot (at these state dollars) as long as we put our name in the hat. And we are preparing, and putting in that effort right now.” Oliver said.

Director of Community Development David Merchen did not respond for comment on the project..

http://www.maderatribune.com/single-post/2018/07/25/City-Council-says-yes-to-program-to-spur-downtown?mc_cid=812a0a5fe9&mc_eid=a126ded657&utm_campaign=812a0a5fe9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_07_26_02_53&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Morning%2BRoundup&utm_term=0_165ffe36b2-812a0a5fe9-78934377

New Kern Venture Group Brings Angel Investing to Our Region

New Kern Venture Group Brings Angel Investing to Our Region
jp lake headshot

For the 1878 Paris Exhibition, a couple of highly prominent chaps named J.P. Morgan and Spencer Trask decided to back a crazy idea called “electricity” that was being pitched by none other than Thomas Edison. His brilliant concept was made possible by these early angel investors. Without their extra capital, we might all still be in the dark.

And it’s a powerful tool. Companies like Uber, Google, Twitter, eBay, Apple, Kinko’s, Starbucks and Amazon all got their start or grew with the help of angel investors.

Angel investing is a process whereby private investors inject capital for startups in exchange for ownership equity or convertible debt. It often works like the popular television show “Shark Tank,” but without all of the cameras and hoopla. It’s as simple as groups of real investors funding promising new businesses.

Angel investment funds are located all over the world, and many can be found up and down the California coast. They pool money together and then allocate it to new businesses.

Just imagine you’re a local startup entrepreneur in Bakersfield. You have an exciting idea that you think the market will embrace, but you don’t have access to enough capital. You’ve tapped out your friends and family with small investments, but you need larger sums to get your idea off the ground. What do you do? Most people would either quit or look to a city with stronger startup culture and established funds — places like Palo Alto, Santa Monica, San Diego and San Francisco. The investors there would most likely require you move to their area where they could oversee your progress. This, of course, results in fewer talented entrepreneurs in Kern County and more in places that are already swarming with them. It’s a gain for their local economies and a loss for ours.

This setup also keeps Bakersfield off the investor circuit, removed from the map of places entrepreneurs dream of seeding and growing their ideas.

According to my own research, Kern County has never hosted an organized group of angel investors. But despite his busy schedule and long list of commitments, local business owner John-Paul (“J.P.”) Lake is working to change all that. He is chief operating officer of a hedge fund and manages real estate for his family’s large business, Rain for Rent. The company rents equipment for handling problems with liquids and has 70 global locations. He serves as a trustee for the Panama Buena-Vista Union School District, among other community involvements. His varied business background, deep understanding of our region and local relationships make him the perfect person to bring this platform to Kern County, which will open up access to capital for people with great ideas.

As Lake explains, Kern County has historically been a place where pioneers and risk-takers get their start. Our community has a rich history of innovation in industries like agriculture, oil, gas, renewables and aerospace technology. And now we have another exciting opportunity to pioneer new industries in our region, he notes.

He’s working with a group of local investors to create a fund, called Kern Venture Group, that will provide capital to qualifying startups and existing small businesses.

Lake founded the group with David Higdon, a local business owner with a lot of startup experience as the former president for Ellis Energy Investments.

“I believe that human talent, skill, creativity and passion are equally distributed around the globe,” he explains. “I know there are bright young people who have ideas and want to start a business, but some ingredients are not in place to do that as quickly here. They often leave our community for places where they have a better chance to get their business off the ground.”

I applaud Lake and Higdon for their efforts. The impacts of an angel investment fund will be farther reaching than one might even imagine. Kern Venture Group could help encourage open-mindedness about business opportunities in new industries, increase the local risk tolerance, support an ecosystem to nurture entrepreneurs and their ideas, change the dynamic and help diversify our economy, encourage innovation and push our business community to recognize the value of human capital, not just hard assets. As a result, an angel fund creates a stronger future for our region as a whole.

To seek funding through this group, an entrepreneur with an idea or existing business will reach out to them through the website, kernventuregroup.com. Proposals will be reviewed by a screening committee. Once approved, proponents will present their idea to the full investor group with a 15-minute pitch. Investors will have time to ask questions. The reviewers will take a vote. If successful, the pitch goes to the investment committee. This group will take a deep dive, complete their due diligence and negotiate terms. The committee will take one more vote. If a proposal passes, the managing partners will finalize the investment. The goal is for the fund to raise $2 million to $4 million locally. The plan is to make 15 to 20 investments in this first round.

Eager entrepreneurs are already primed to begin the pitch process. Potential candidates include the owner of a popular local snack food brand who is ready to take his business to the next level with more capital, and locals with ideas for businesses in the oil and gas industry.

Hunting for the elusive unicorn takes a volume of investments and a higher tolerance for risk; the Silicon Valley culture didn’t get that way by chance. One might argue that Silicon Valley’s success was aided by its proximity to San Francisco. But I would argue that the ecosystem created there could exist anyplace in the United States. This “magic” was created with concerted effort and many different components connecting together over time. The area is known for embracing a culture of openness and a free exchange of ideas, but it was not always so. This mentality is much less common in many parts of the country, but why couldn’t we bring a bit of that magic back to Bakersfield?

Angel investors in Silicon Valley know that for every 5,000 crazy ideas, there are some really good businesses waiting to be uncovered and perhaps a few golden opportunities, billion-dollar diamonds-in-the-rough. And for every successful business that is started or grown, many more jobs result. With a higher risk comes a higher reward, both for successful business owners, their investors and the community as a whole.

Angel investors are critical initiators of startups and job creation. Establishment of the Kern Venture Group is a crucial component to creating a local innovation ecosystem and could help usher in a new era of economic growth.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/new-kern-venture-group-brings-angel-investing-to-our-region/article_c7d804cc-8c86-11e8-bfba-aff42f46b35e.html