Kern County leads US in agriculture production for first time

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Kern County tops the U.S. in agriculture according the Kern County Farm Bureau.

In 2016, Kern County produced more than $7.1 billion in agriculture with pistachio production leading the way.

According to the bureau, Kern County had never previously held the top spot in the state, let alone the country.

http://www.kerngoldenempire.com/news/local-news/kern-county-leads-us-in-agriculture-production-for-first-time/814380991

Gallo connecting with Stanislaus, Merced county schools to develop workforce

Central Valley Business Journal
By NORA HESTON TARTE

E&J Gallo works with students to train them in becoming part of its workforce.

MODESTO — E&J Gallo Winery is keeping employment local.

It was 2015 when the Modesto-based business noticed a gap in its workforce. There weren’t enough technical employees in the area to fill its needs. Instead of looking to surrounding communities to hire from, the company created a job-ready program with local schools to train high school graduates in the skills the company needed.

In the two years the program has been up and running, Gallo has hired 17 program participants to work at the winery.

“I learned that if you want a good-paying career you don’t need to leave [the area],” Edwin Valdivia Jacobo, a general winery worker who graduated Ceres High School Manufacturing and Green Technology Academy in 2015, said. “I have one here in my own backyard, and I didn’t even know it.”

“The program has helped area youth become better prepared for the world of work and gain real-life experience working in a manufacturing environment,” said Richard Coffey, Senior Director of Workforce development at Gallo. “The program provides all students with the opportunity to learn lifelong skills that are needed to be successful in the workforce, and, if selected for a paid internship, students are able to gain work experience, further develop their skills and ultimately apply for a position within the winery organization.”

The job readiness and internship program developed naturally out of an existing partnership between Gallo and the Ceres High School Manufacturing Academy.

“[Gallo] has been involved with the academy from its inception when we were approached by the school district to help develop the curriculum and study options as well as providing mentors to the program,” Coffey said.

Julessa Nava Ambriz, a level four operator at Gallo and a 2015 Ceres High Graduate, learned of the job readiness program in high school.

“At first, I shrugged it off, because in high school you’re just naïve about everything,” Ambriz said.

Ambriz asked other workers at Gallo about the program and heard lots of positive feedback. She, along with some friends, decided to apply. Her friends never followed through, but Ambriz did.
“Now I really try to tell others that are still in school to pursue it,” she said. “It has given me an opportunity to have a career and start my career and go to school. I can easily progress through the company with a few years under my belt, and it’s a great feeling knowing that I’m not stuck in one spot.”

After its success, Gallo expanded its offering to other schools to include Modesto City Schools, Ceres Unified, Hughson Unified, Turlock Unified, Patterson Unified, Madera Unified and Merced Unified.

Joining the program has several steps. First, candidates apply through their school district. Then, qualified students are invited to complete a 30-hour after-school program that runs once a week for 10 weeks.

The goal is to turn out students that are job ready by teaching them interview skills, résumé writing, communication skills, conflict resolution, change management and lean principles.

“I learned that teamwork and communication is huge part of being part of a company. They tell you that it is, but you really don’t believe it until you experience it,” Ambriz said.

After the job-readiness program is completed, students can apply for internships at Gallo. Performance during the program, including attendance, is taken into consideration.

At first, internships were only available on the operations side. However, after that proved successful, Gallo began offering internships on the winegrowing side as well, in vineyard operations.

“Interns that successfully complete the program are given the opportunity to interview for positions at the end of the internship,” Coffey said.

After the first year’s success, Gallo began working with Modesto City Schools to identify the different career technical education pathways that provided the technical aptitude and knowledge that best meet the company’s current job needs.

“There are so many different opportunities to move up and so many different career choices from … analysis, to marketing, to mechanic — anything you want to pursue, you can,” said Miguel Ortega, another level four operator who completed the internship program through Ceres High.

Opportunity Stanislaus, a local organization dedicated to supporting economic growth and vitality in the community, is helping, too. They pay for students’ WorkKeys tests, a necessary component of joining the workforce program.

The organization is also working to expand the program’s reach, working alongside Gallo employees to determine future needs and train area students to fill those roles. This will include providing targeted technical and manufacturing training programs to support current Gallo employees, including former interns. All programs are being developed to complement existing programs offered by MJC.

The goal is for Opportunity Stanislaus to be a dot connecter, connecting local job seekers with employees and education through partnerships in the community.

 

 

 

Del Monte Closing Indiana Plant, Shifting Work to California

AP
Sept. 12, 2017

Del Monte Foods plans to close a northern Indiana tomato processing plant with about 100 workers and shift its production to a central California facility.

PLYMOUTH, Ind. (AP) — Del Monte Foods plans to close a northern Indiana tomato processing plant with about 100 workers and shift its production to a central California facility.

The company announced Tuesday it would start layoffs in November as it ceases production at the Plymouth, Indiana, plant that makes ketchup, tomato-based sauces, and juice from concentrate. Warehouse and distribution work is expected to end by February, when the facility will close.

Del Monte says in a state filing that it expects the closing will be permanent.

The company says the closing will align its production capacity with current consumer demand. Production will be shifted to a plant in Hanford, California.

Bay Valley Foods said last month it would be closing its Plymouth facilities, eliminating about 150 jobs.

Self-driving cars now roam across former California military facilities

San Francisco Chronicle
By David R. Baker
September 5, 2017

The empty runway stretching before Mark Hendrickson extends so far that its edges vanish in the heat shimmer of a broiling Central Valley afternoon.

Presidents have landed here, back when it was the center of a bustling Air Force base. Aerial firefighters battling blazes in the Sierra foothills touch down here to refill their tankers with water and flame retardant before taking off for another run.

Part of it already is. Google leased a 91.5-acre chunk of the base in 2014, sealing it off from the rest with a black fence. Now, white Chrysler minivans topped with sensors run daily tests through a maze of refurbished streets, complete with a rain tunnel to simulate bad weather.

“When Google came in here, it opened up a number of eyes,” Hendrickson said. “Other industry leaders started coming to us as well and saying, ‘What if?’”

The base could allow automakers and tech companies to put autonomous cars through the kinds of tests they can’t easily or safely do in public: situations where cars must navigate the same oddly shaped intersection over and over again, or where they must evade other cars intentionally darting into their way.

The stereo speaker company giving sight to self-driving cars

“This is a very large piece of concrete — a lot of things could happen here,” Hendrickson said, admiring the 2-mile-long runway. “It’s off the beaten path, and you’re not going to bother anybody.”

So far, two facilities have emerged to meet the need.

Google, whose self-driving unit now goes by the name Waymo, uses Castle, and Hendrickson said several automakers stand poised to follow suit, though he declined to name them.

Meanwhile, Honda, Uber and two other companies test their vehicles at a former naval base outside Concord. Renamed GoMentum Station by Contra Costa County officials, the old Concord Naval Weapons Station features a cluster of old buildings that can simulate a small town, while the streets linking rows of munitions bunkers can mimic a city grid.

Officials at each facility say they don’t consider the other competition. There’s more than enough demand to go around.

“Anything we can do to accelerate this technology, we’ll do,” said Randell Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, which runs GoMentum Station. “There’s definitely a need for secure test beds. You can’t close down a city street and run the same maneuver over and over again without people complaining.”

Iwasaki first hit upon the idea after then-Contra Costa County Supervisor Susan Bonilla told him to take a look at the old weapons depot and figure out ways it could generate jobs.

“As soon as I got out here, I thought this would be an amazing test facility,” Iwasaki said. “It’s clean, it’s wide-open and it’s guarded by the military.”

“You have buildings, trees, shadowing, sidewalks — everything you need,” Iwasaki said.

Two tunnels nearby show companies how their cars behave when cut off from GPS signals. A long, straight road, meanwhile, has been re-striped to look like an interstate highway. An autonomous big rig from Uber’s self-driving truck division, formerly known as Otto, rumbled back and forth. Not far away, Honda engineers had set up a portable traffic light next to a row of grass-covered bunkers.

At 5,000 acres, the sprawling base is big enough that multiple companies can test there at once without peering over each other’s shoulders. (Chinese Internet giant Baidu also uses the site.) Locked and guarded gates keep out the public, creating a wide-open space populated by fat, burrowing squirrels, flocks of wild turkeys and very few humans.

Although both Concord and the county have long-term plans to redevelop much of the site with housing, offices and parkland, Iwasaki says a portion will be reserved for GoMentum. The station may someday serve as a way to lure tech companies into opening offices there.

“We want those jobs to keep some of our people, so they don’t have to drive south on Interstate 680 every morning,” Iwasaki said.

The base closed as a military installation in 1995, and the county took over ownership in 2006. The Castle Commerce Center, as it’s now known, has about 80 tenants, including a startup designing rocket engines and a UC Merced office researching drones.

While old barracks pocked with shattered windows dot parts of the base, the entire facility has working water, electricity and sewer services, as well as broadband Internet. Waymo, Hendrickson said, even rehabbed some of the buildings into dorms for its engineers.

Waymo declined to let a Chronicle reporter tour its facility.

Hendrickson credited Google with having the idea of using part of the base for self-driving research.

“We did not envision that — it was a little bit of luck,” he said.

Now, however, he sees all the ways that other companies could use Castle for the same purpose. The base features intersections where roads meet at strange angles — potentially confusing a self-driving car. Large hangars can store cars, so companies don’t need to constantly bring vehicles to and from the base.

And for foreign automakers, the airstrip can allow easy access for visiting company executives. Although part of the strip may be redeveloped, most of it will stay open for air traffic.

Hendrickson, however, doesn’t just want Castle to serve as a testing facility. Merced County’s unemployment rate stood at 9.7 percent in July, and the county wants some of the old base used for manufacturing. Castle competed to host Tesla’s battery Gigafactory, but lost out to a site near Reno.

“Are we going to be a place that builds rockets,” Hendrickson said. “Probably not. But can we be a place where components of rockets are built? Absolutely.”

That said, Hendrickson believes Castle can play a key role in keeping California at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle industry.

“While Detroit has been, historically, the global epicenter, the reality is that California has a unique opportunity to be the epicenter for the 21st century,” he said. “And we fully intend to be part of that.”

Electric Vehicles In The Central Valley Could Get A Big Boost Thanks To The VW Settlement

NPR for Central Valley
SEP 12, 2017

A major scandal rocked the auto industry two years ago when it was discovered that the car company Volkswagen had been systematically cheating on diesel emissions tests. That scandal might soon turn into a big boon for electric cars in the Central Valley.

The company agreed to a massive settlement worth more than $1 billion. Over the next ten years, $800 million is supposed to be spent in California to beef up electric car infrastructure and access.  Of that, 35%, or about $280 million, is earmarked for low income and high pollution areas like Fresno, Bakersfield and much of the rest of the San Joaquin Valley.

Joel Espino, with the environmental advocacy group The Greenlining Institute, says the focus is on these areas because they have suffered the most due to VW’s deceit.

“Those emissions, those extra emission, that were put into the air, didn’t affect everyone equally. A lot of the communities who live near busy roads and freeways, low-income communities of color, were harmed the most as a result,” Espino says.

There are more than 66,000 registered electric vehicles in the Central Valley according to the CA DMV

So now a plan is in motion to build up the support network needed to make electric cars viable in low-income areas and across the broad rural plains of the valley.

Dean Florez is with the California Air Resources Control Board, which helped craft the settlement.

He says previously the Central Valley was not appealing for companies to set up charging stations on their own. This led to a chicken and egg scenario, where there aren’t enough places to charge so people are turned off by EVs but there aren’t enough EVs for companies to install charging stations.

“I mean it is kind of like asking someone to buy an IPhone, having it fully charged. And then leaving the store and being told you can only charge it at the local post office which might be 30 or 40 miles away.” Florez says.

Florez sees this settlement as just the boost electric vehicles need. And it’s coming at a time when electric vehicles seem to be finding their niche. This year, EVs are expected to represent about 3% of new car sales state wide. That would be an all-time high.

According to the California DMV, there are almost 168,000 all electric vehicles registered in the state.

“We really want folks to feel like even though they can’t charge at home, they still will have the ability to charge out in the world. You know, you can’t put gas in your car at you home. Most people don’t have a gas station at their house. So it%u2019s really it’s no different than that”-Jamie Hold

At this point, it is unclear where the stations will actually go. However, Florez says they have an agreement with Volkswagen to check in every month and make chargers are being spread out to the areas that most need them, not just the areas where they will be most used.

“Unless we have more density in terms of infrastructure, getting the Central Valley, which is dire need of mobile source reduction in pollution, to move to EVs is almost an impossibility,” Florez says.

This new plan could help people like Jessi Fierro, who is a busy mother of two young children and with a typically packed family car.

“It’s kind of a mom mobile. I manage to keep the front pretty clear. But you will see in the back I have both my car seats ready to go,” Feirro says pointing to car seats in her car at her office.

She drives a Chevy Bolt. That’s an all-electric car with a range of about 230 miles, which for electric cars is really good.  She is lucky because her office offers a charging station for her.

Still, Fierro says she is always aware of where the next charging station is and sometimes plans her trips around them.

Jessi Fierro poses next to her bolt.
CREDIT JEFFREY HESS/KVPR

“And when I have taken my longer trips out of town I am trying to find destinations close to chargers, just so the kids aren’t getting too fussy while I am charging my car. But for the most part, when I am putzing about town I know where a handful of charges are. And actually there are aps too for your phone so you can say ‘I am going to be here. Where are chargers nearby,’” Fierro asks.

Fierro says she has no regrets about going electric and rarely charges her car at home, preferring to find chargers in the wild.

Some possible sites for the new chargers include workplaces, grocery stores, public parks and big box retailers with their massive parking lots. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District says they are working to convince, and financially incentivize, businesses to install the chargers for their employees and customers.

Frequent and convenient charging stations are perhaps the most critical part of the plan according to Jamie Holt with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

“We need charging stations to be as prevalent throughout the valley as gas stations are now,” Holt says.

She says they are trying to change hearts and minds about the reliability of access to power for electric vehicles, especially for people who live in apartments or park on the street where at-home charging is not possible.

“We really want folks to feel like even though they can’t charge at home, they still will have the ability to charge out in the world. You know, you can’t put gas in your car at you home. Most people don’t have a gas station at their house. So it’s really it’s no different than that,” Holt says.

Holt says the more the cars saturate the market, the more likely it is people will become more comfortable with the idea of driving an electric car. She also says they are working to break the perception that electric cars are only something that rich people on the coast use.

To that end, she says there are a wealth of rebate and pre-bate programs, some that are income based, to help low and moderate income families go electric. And especially in the valley, those families could stand to the benefit the most.

Tech sector growing vibrantly throughout Central Valley

by Phillip Lan
August 23, 2017
The Central Valley Business Journal

Chances are, when you think of the Central Valley, you think about tomato trucks rumbling down the freeway or shakers knocking down almonds amidst endless rows of trees. You probably don’t think about modern tech companies or millennials working while sipping lattes in open, co-working spaces. But an ever-increasing group of local techies and entrepreneurs are working to change that.

Over the last few decades, the Central Valley’s tech community has been growing — slowly and under the radar. Local commuters working in Bay Area tech companies and tech-related professionals in Central Valley companies now number thousands across the region. Many software developers, often known as coders or hackers, have begun gathering at fun local events such as the Modesto-based Valley Hackathon (https://valleyhackathon.com/), a programming contest where Star Wars-costumed teams furiously write computer code to win thousands in cash and prizes.

Local business leaders who see the economic benefit tech jobs can bring to the region have also jumped in to accelerate the development of a tech community in the Central Valley. Launched several years ago, The Huddle is a co-working space in downtown Stockton which provides entrepreneurs a place to collaborate and create synergies to help each other’s companies grow. Tech startups in Sacramento now have communities like Hacker Lab where they can co-locate with other companies and get access to mentors and resources to improve revenue trajectory. In Fresno, Geekwise Academy has trained thousands of people to develop software over the past few years and its parent company, Bitwise Industries (http://bitwiseindustries.com/), has helped create over 1,000 tech-related jobs in the region. Bitwise now partners with Amazon to train developers on the latest platforms and eventually plans to occupy 2.5 million square feet of commercial space in downtown Fresno.

In Modesto, ValleyWorx, a tech and digital design co-working hub, will begin taking applications from tech companies and entrepreneurs later this month. One of its first tenants will be Bay Valley Tech (http://bayvalleytech.com/), a code academy focused on providing affordable hands-on software skills to working professionals and students preparing to enter the work force. Locating tech students and tech companies in the same building will allow students to more easily find internships and jobs. At the same time, companies based out of ValleyWorx will have access to an ever-expanding talent pool proficient in the latest technologies.

You may be wondering how all of these “geeks” are going to help the rest of our non-tech economy. By creating a thriving tech community in the Central Valley, we will make it a more attractive place for software professionals to settle.

Senior software engineers in California now earn an average salary of $129,000, and some make over $200,000 annually, according to Indeed.com. Not only will ‘hackers’ infuse disposable income into our local economy, their presence will attract Bay Area firms looking for tech talent.

For example, Oportun, a Redwood City-based venture-backed company, set up a software development office in downtown Modesto two years ago and is already outgrowing their space due to rapid hiring. Their executives indicated availability of software talent as a key driver for expanding into the Central Valley.

Other Bay Area companies are also considering expanding to Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto due to the availability of high-tech talent.

In order to continue the momentum and attract even more tech companies to the Central Valley, local businesses, non-profits and government entities are working to do the following:

  1. Create more events such as the Valley Hackathon, 59 Days of Code and Valley Software Developers Meetups in Modesto (https://www.meetup.com/Valley-Software-Developers/) and Stockton (https://www.meetup.com/Valley-Software-Developers-Stockton/) to pull the existing tech community together.
  2. Launch co-working spaces such as The Huddle and ValleyWorx to facilitate collaboration, mentoring and growth.
  3. Expand the Central Valley’s tech community by training thousands more local residents to become software literate through code academies such as Geekwise and Bay Valley Tech. Learning software development skills will help thousands of workers capitalize on upcoming transformative industries such as ag tech, manufacturing automation and self-driving transportation (which all heavily leverage software).

The creation of a growing tech-enabled workforce will make the Central Valley an attractive investment destination for Bay Area tech companies who are now overlooking this region and expanding out of state to cities such as Austin, Denver, Seattle and Portland.The Central Valley needs more high-paying jobs, local residents need a realistic path into software-related careers to prepare for the changing world and Bay Area tech workers need affordable housing.

According to a recent poll by the Bay Area Council, a staggering 46 percent of millennials (people age 18 to 39) living in the San Francisco Bay Area say they’re now ready to leave one of the nation’s most unaffordable housing markets. Many have already left California, expanding the tech talent pool in other states.

As high paying software job openings continue to outpace the supply of programmers in California, this is the perfect time for Central Valley leaders to come together and create a win-win-win solution. A tech ecosystem generating exciting, well-paying jobs will also encourage local students to participate in junior high, high school and college programming and robotics initiatives.

Jumpstarting a tech economy in our ag-focused Central Valley is undoubtedly a Herculean task requiring a community-wide effort. Here are a few opportunities for business and community leaders who would like to help:

  1. Sponsor Stockton’s upcoming Valley Hackathon in October (https://valleyhackathon.com/BecomeASponsor).
  2. Contribute to a code academy scholarship fund.
  3. Sign up as a corporate sponsor of the Bay Valley Tech code academies in Stockton and Modesto.

Central Valley counties see surprising ebb and flow of residents 

WASHINGTON, D.C.
August 11, 2017 10:57am

The U.S. population is on the move, and not just down the block, according to a new report from the Census Bureau.

It has updated its “Census Flows Mapper” to include data from the 2011-2015 American Community Survey. Census Flows Mapper is a web mapping application that allows users to view and save county-to-county migration flows in the United States. Users can sort and customize maps by dataset, type of migration flow, colors and range of movers.

Each dataset features different characteristics using five-year American Community Survey data. The updated tables cover migration flows between counties by selected characteristics including sex, age, race and Hispanic origin. Additional characteristics such as household income, educational attainment and employment statistics are available in previous datasets.

Here’s a look at some of the ebbing and flowing among Central Valley counties:

• San Joaquin County Population (1 yr and over): 698,554 Movers from a different state: 6,712 Movers to a different state: 7,527 Movers from a different county, same state: 26,526 Movers to a different county, same state: 20,196 Movers from abroad: 3,121

• Stanislaus County Population (1 yr and over): 519,889 Movers from a different state: 4,045 Movers to a different state: 4,407 Movers from a different county, same state: 16,316 Movers to a different county, same state: 15,036 Movers from abroad: 1,746

• Merced County Population (1 yr and over): 259,873 Movers from a different state: 1,689 Movers to a different state: 2,716 Movers from a different county, same state: 11,310 Movers to a different county, same state: 9,077 Movers from abroad: 1,196

• Madera County Population (1 yr and over): 150,756 Movers from a different state: 958 Movers to a different state: 1,545 Movers from a different county, same state: 6,941 Movers to a different county, same state: 7,127 Movers from abroad: 455

• Fresno County Population (1 yr and over): 943,481 Movers from a different state: 6,085 Movers to a different state: 9,181 Movers from a different county, same state: 25,472 Movers to a different county, same state: 22,330 Movers from abroad: 4,165

• Tulare County Population (1 yr and over): 447,267 Movers from a different state: 4,923 Movers to a different state: 4,478 Movers from a different county, same state: 9,864 Movers to a different county, same state: 10,563 Movers from abroad: 1,449

• Kings County Population (1 yr and over): 149,063 Movers from a different state: 3,121 Movers to a different state: 3,268 Movers from a different county, same state: 10,655 Movers to a different county, same state: 8,120 Movers from abroad: 1,040

• Kern County Population (1 yr and over): 853,918 Movers from a different state: 8,640 Movers to a different state: 12,674 Movers from a different county, same state: 30,411 Movers to a different county, same state: 23,546 Movers from abroad: 3,602

Madera companies show off

FRESNO

The Madera Tribune
August 5, 2017
by Tyler A. Takeda

More than 1,100 people converged to the Fresno Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall to view more than 140 exhibits at the seventh annual Fresno Food Expo, the largest regional food show in the nation.

Among the 140 exhibitors were 11 from the Madera area, including ENZO Olive Oil Company, which won two awards at the Expo.

“The expo is all about listening to the needs of our exhibitors and making meaningful connections to grow their businesses, expand collaborations and draw focus to celebrate Central California’s thriving food industry,” said David Nalchajian, general manager, Fresno Food Expo. “The synergy experienced this year among exhibiting companies is unlike what we’ve seen before. You’ve heard the reference ‘the seven year itch.’ In the case of the Fresno Food Expo, our seventh year has unleashed opportunity for year-round enrichment for our exhibitors where they’ve been able to immediately utilize tools and put them to work as part of overall growth strategies. The regional food industry, national and international buyers and the public are coming together at an entirely different level, which is both exciting and humbling.”


ENZO, which has a store in Clovis, but grows its olives in Madera County, won the Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award, which honors an innovative Valley-based food or beverage company that demonstrates exemplary leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit, all while being an exceptional community steward. Named in honor of Fred Ruiz, founder of Ruiz Food Products, Inc., this award recognizes companies who have the same vision and qualities that took Ruiz Foods from a small, family start-up to the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the United States. In addition to the award, ENZO will also receive advice and mentoring for a year from Ruiz and a team of food industry professionals.

“Anytime you can win an award with Fred Ruiz’s name attached is an honor and humbling at the same time,” said ENZO co-owner Vincent Ricchuitti. “One of the thing that resonated with him is our energy and our passion. The fact that we’re a family company and have been farming in Madera a long time. We re-invented part of our business to take on this venture. He recognized the challenge in that and saw the passion our family had for this venture.”


ENZO Olive Oil’s Fresno Chili Crush also took second place in the New Product Awards Buyer’s Choice Awards.

“The Fresno Chili Crush is one of our most well-received items we have ever made,” Ricchiuti said. “It’s an exciting night.”

Better Butter
Contact: Mallvinder Kahal, co-founder

Featuring: We’re showcasing our No. 1 product, our Better (almond) Butter. We’re sampling it with bananas and apples to show its versatility. But, we’re also showing the product on its own to show how rich it is.

What has been the response: Taste-wise, everything has been positive, which has boosted our confidence in the product. We’re really happy with the feedback on the product.

Where can people buy your product: Right now, our most successful spot to find us is on Amazon: Kahal Better Butter. We’re working on the local retailers to try to convince them that our product is something they want to carry. This Expo has also showed us how to approach distributors and retailers. We discovered a whole new slew of challenges, but at least we know what the challenges are versus walking in the dark.

Heart Ridge Farms
Contact: Steve Spears, national salesperson

Featuring: We’re pushing our line of seasoned almonds. We grow our own almonds. We have our own European dry roast process for almonds. We have various flavors.

What has been the response: The response from vendors, retailers and buyers has been very favorable. We’re somewhat new as far as having a focus, a more retail business.

Where can people buy your product: We are in the local Von’s stores and various brick-and-mortor stores. In 30-60 days, we will be in the more independent stores from Bakersfield to Stockton and Save Mart.

Cru Winery
Contact: Alexis Sosa-Valentine, tasting room and wine club manager

Featuring: We’re showcasing our pinot noir and chardonney.

What has been the 
response: Everyone loves the wine. They were both big winners at the San Francisco wine competition and big winners at the Expo today.

Where can people buy your product: We are located on Road 21 and Road 21 1/2. Our wine is also at BevMo, Save Mart, Von’s and Total Wine.

Wonderful Agricultural Management
Contact: Wayne Koligian, director of grower relations

Featuring: We are showing people our product and highlighting it. We tell people we manage and develop the land that goes from the farmer to the grocery store shelves.

What has been the response: They really like what we’ve shown. I brought 20 cases of pomegranate juice and it’s already gone. I brought 10 cases of Fiji water and it’s gone. I brought 18 cases of Wonderful Almonds and it’s already gone. We own a total of 30 businesses.

Riley’s Brew
Contact: Dan Riley, owner

Featuring: We’re showing off our Sancha, Cougar, Catching up IPA, California Mike Stout, two seasonals — mango sancha and Hammered. We have our gin, vodka, hard root beer, hard vanilla, hard orange and hard ginger. That’s all we brought.

What has been the response: Very good. People are enjoying it. It’s a win-win. People like it.

Where can people buy your product: We’re in Food Maxx and Save mart. We have our Riley’s Brew Pub on Temperance and Alluvial.

Rosenthal Olive Ranch
Contact: Kevin Rosenthal, owner.

Featuring: We’re showing off all of our flavored olive oils, our extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegar.

What has been the response: We’ve gotten an overwhelming response over everything, especially our garlic olive oil.

Where can people buy your product: We are at The Market at Herndon and West, Sumner Peck Fruit Stand and they also use it exclusively at The Vineyard Restaurant and our ranch, Avenue 9 between Road 29 and 29 1/2.

San Joaquin Wine Company

Featuring: All of the wines available.

Sierra Valley Almonds
Contact: Kurt Friedenbach, sales and marketing

Featuring: We are featuring our new blanche line and flour. Blanche is where you take the almonds and take the skins off. They use it for confectionery.

What has been the response: We mainly serve the industry rather than retail. Today is mainly about some buyers that come into Fresno.

ENZO Olive Oil Company
Contact: Vincent Ricchuiti, co-owner

Featuring: We’re featuring our entire line.

What has been the response: The Fresno Chili Crush really wows everyone. It’s really versatile. It may be the only Fresno chili olive oil made.

Where can people buy your product: We have our own store in Clovis (Shepherd and Willow), Save Mart, Von’s, Sierra Nut House, Sam’s Deli and a lot of places.

Barnett Meats
Contact: Jason Barnett, owner

Featuring: Our seasoned tri-tips that are in the grocery store, as well as our deli and grocery store in Oakhurst. We did 2,000 samples last year. It went great. We were way too busy to do it this week.

What has been the response: We had them hooked and sold it. Now they are furious. The problem was getting down here for the show. We’ve been so busy, it’s ridiculous.

Where can people buy your product: Two Von’s in Clovis, two Von’s in Fresno, Pack-N-Save in Madera, Von’s in Oakhurst as well as our deli in Oakhurst.

Commercial building demand, prices on the rise throughout Central Valley

By Sim Risso
Business Journal Writer

July 7, 2017

 

STOCKTON — As the Central Valley gets deeper into 2017, things are trending positively for commercial real estate. Industry professionals are reporting low vacancy rates, high demand leading to an increase in leasing rates and construction on new buildings ramping up to meet that demand.

Jim Martin, Senior Vice President of Lee and Associates Central Valley Inc. has been working the local commercial real estate market for 21 years, specializing in industrial real estate. During that time, Martin has seen ups and downs in the market, but he said the current market is one of the stronger ones he can recall.

“On the industrial side, I’d characterize the demand similar to what we saw in 2006 and 2007,” Martin said. “But I would say that what we haven’t seen, which we saw in that cycle, is an over flow of supply in terms of new construction starts.”

According to a report from commercial real estate services firm CBRE, there was one commercial construction building completed in the first quarter of 2017. It was a project in Tracy totaling 381,600 square feet.

While the building in Tracy was the only one completed in the first quarter of 2017, there are nine buildings under construction totaling 3.5 million square feet. Six or seven of those projects should be completed during the second quarter of 2017.

However, filling those buildings with tenants shouldn’t be too difficult. The vacancy rate in the first quarter of 2017 was only 2.2 percent.

Brian Peterson is First Vice President for CBRE and covers the office real estate market in the Central Valley. Peterson said he expects to see more projects in the future, but the approach will be measured due to a lack of available, entitled land and developers’ desires to have the building occupied quickly.

“They’ll probably look to build in really strong submarkets or have it pre-leased to justify,” Peterson said. “I don’t think you’ll see spec-office building in the near term under construction to put a major chunk of space on the market. It’ll probably be something that can be absorbed pretty quickly after delivery.”

The CBRE report also cited an increase in the average asking Industrial lease rate. It increased 1 cent per square foot across the board to 40 cents overall.

Tom Davis, Senior Vice President for CBRE’s Central Valley Industrial Practice group, expects the price per square foot to continue to increase in the coming year.

“Rents and building prices are up compared to this time last year,” Davis said. “We expect further increases in the coming year. Almost all vacancies in the market are seeing activity.”
Peterson offered a similar prognostication in terms of office real estate.

“Office lease rates and sales prices are up year over year in most local submarkets,” Peterson said. “I don’t see any change to the trend and expect a moderate increase in pricing throughout 2017.”
There’s also been a trend where the submarkets of Tracy and Northwest Stockton are noticeably strong in the office market. Peterson said part of Tracy’s market could be influenced by the Bay Area, as well as a lack of supply driving up demand. In Northwest Stockton, the Brookside business park is in demand.

“Many buildings are fully leased or just have a couple suites available,” Peterson said. “And again, rents are going up. Each deal seems to be pushing our rates up a little higher than the last.”
Martin has noticed the same thing, with Stockton seeing an increase in demand on the industrial side.

“Historically, there’s always been a preference for Tracy, Lathrop and Manteca, given their proximity to the Bay Area. But as those markets have reached nearly full occupancy, Stockton has been the benefactor of that overflow in demand,” Martin said.

And there’s a diversity in industries driving the demand. On the office side, Peterson cited medical offices, government-related uses, financial and professional services.
Davis also mentioned a wide array of tenants are driving demand in his discipline.

“Tenant demand is very broad on the industrial side,” Davis said. “E-commerce, the electrical vehicle industry and just consumer staples, food and beverage, are the most active sectors.”
Between the demand on the limited supply currently available, the measured amount of construction adding an amount of supply to the market that can be absorbed, and the increase in price per square foot, the market is in a good place. The industry professionals expect it to keep trending that direction too.

“We’re in a healthy market,” Martin said. “Values are up, rents are up and supply is short. So there aren’t very many options, and we’re starting to get to a point now where more and more buildings that are available are getting multiple inquiries and in many cases multiple offers. We haven’t seen that for some time.”

U.S. home prices up 6.6 percent in May 

Central Valley Business Times
IRVINE 
July 5, 2017 

  •  Price appreciation outstripping income growth in many markets
  • Prices soaring in Central Valley
  • For renters and potential first-time homebuyers, it is not such a pretty picture

Home prices are up strongly both year over year and month over month with national prices increasing year over year by 6.6 percent from May, according to a new report Wednesday from real estate financial information company CoreLogic Inc. (NYSE: CLGX) of Irvine.On a month-over-month basis, home prices increased by 1.2 percent in May compared with April, according to the CoreLogic data.

Looking ahead, the CoreLogic “HPI Forecast” indicates that home prices will increase by 5.3 percent on a year-over-year basis by May 2018, and on a month-over-month basis home prices are expected to increase by 0.9 percent from May to June.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“The market remained robust with home sales and prices continuing to increase steadily in May,” says Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “While the market is consistently generating home price growth, sales activity is being hindered by a lack of inventory across many markets. This tight inventory is also impacting the rental market where overall single-family rent inflation was 3.1 percent on a year-over-year basis in May of this year compared with May of last year. Rents in the affordable single-family rental segment (defined as properties with rents less than 75 percent of the regional median rent) increased 4.7 percent over the same time, well above the pace of overall inflation.”

“For current homeowners, the strong run-up in prices has boosted home equity and, in some cases, spending,” says Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “For renters and potential first-time homebuyers, it is not such a pretty picture. With price appreciation and rental inflation outstripping income growth, affordability is destined to become a bigger issue in most markets.”

Parts of the Central Valley are seeing price increases even greater than the national average. Here are CoreLogic’s reports for individual Valley markets:

Home Prices in Fresno Increase In Fresno, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 6.9 percent in May compared with May 2016. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 0.9 percent in May compared with April.

Home Prices in Stockton-Lodi Increase In Stockton-Lodi, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 9.0 percent in May compared with May 2016. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 2.1 percent in May compared with April.

Home Prices in Visalia-Porterville Increase In Visalia-Porterville, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 5.5 percent in May compared with May 2016. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, decreased by 0.4 percent in May compared with April.

Home Prices in Bakersfield Increase In Bakersfield, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 4.9 percent in May compared with May 2016. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 0.8 percent in May compared with April.

Home Prices in Metro Sacramento Increase In metropolitan Sacramento, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 8.5 percent in May compared with May 2016. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 0.8 percent in May compared with April

Home Prices in Modesto Increase In Modesto, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 9.6 percent in May compared with May 2016. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 1.3 percent in May compared with April. Home Prices in Merced Increase

Home Prices in Merced Increase In Merced, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 11.6 percent in May compared with May 2016. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 0.5 percent in May compared with April.

Home Prices in Madera Increase In Madera, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 8.5 percent in May compared with May 2016. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 0.5 percent in May compared with April.