Here’s why Foster Farms will be adding new jobs at its Livingston chicken plant

Foster Farms employee’s protest for better wages, affordable insurance, new contract
Employees at the Foster Farms Livingston chicken plant protested on Thursday, April 27, 2017, for better wages, affordable insurance and a new labor union contract. (Monica Velez/mvelez@mercedsun-star.com) 

Report: California tops $50 Billion in ag revenue

Central Valley Business TImes

January 8, 2019

  • Nearly 6 percent higher than in 2017
  • “These are still exciting times for agriculture”

California’s farmers and ranchers had more than $50 billion in cash receipts for their output last year, an increase of almost 6 percent compared to 2016, according to the new California Agricultural Statistics Review for crop year 2017. That is nearly double the next highest state, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The Number 2 state is Iowa, followed by Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota. Seven out of the top ten counties for agricultural output value are in the Central Valley: California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities.

Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. California is the leading state for cash farm receipts, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s total agricultural value. The top producing commodities for 2017 include: Dairy products, milk — $6.56 billion Grapes— $5.79 billion Almonds— $5.60 billion Strawberries— $3.10 billion Cattle and calves — $2.53 billion Lettuce— $2.41 billion Walnuts— $1.59 billion Tomatoes— $1.05 billion Pistachios— $1.01 billion Broilers— $939 million.

“As you know, farming and ranching can be a tough business. But these are still exciting times for agriculture,” says Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture in the report.

“As we move further into the 21st Century we see a worldwide demand for food that is growing rapidly, and a corresponding demand for Californiagrown products that will bring tremendous opportunity for producers able to maintain sustainability in the face of climate change.”

California agricultural exports totaled $20.56 billion for 2017. Top commodities for export in 2017 included almonds, dairy and dairy products, pistachios, wine and walnuts.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/a854fb07-0e00-4ef3-8c8b-cfc37345e907.pdf

Bitwise gets grant for job readiness program

Central Valley Business Times 

December 19, 2018

• James Irvine Foundation ponies up $350,000

 • “Unexpected people and places have huge contributions to make”

Bitwise Industries Inc. of Fresno says it has received a two-year grant of $350,000 from the James Irvine Foundation to help pay for its Geekwise Academy web developer job readiness programs.

The programs train unemployed and underemployed workers in the San Joaquin Valley for middle-wage jobs in the tech industry.

“The assumption that to be successful in technology, you must be a computer scientist in the Silicon Valley with a degree from a high-profile university, is one that has kept people in the Central Valley from exploring computer programming as a career,” says Irma Olguin Jr., co-founder and CEO, Bitwise  Industries. “We know that, if given an opportunity, unexpected people and places have huge contributions to make to the technology industry.”

One of the biggest problems facing the tech industry is the inabilityto find talent fast enough to keep up with demand. The purpose of Geekwise, theeducational arm of Bitwise, is to train software developers in Fresno. To date,Geekwise says it has educated 3,500 students and intentionally cultivated astudent population that is more than 50 percent female, 50 percent minority and20 percent first-generation immigrant.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/3834d3d7-5da2-43f5-aa83-1088bc4a2dc0.pdf

The Wonderful Co. raises minimum wage to $15 per hour

PREVPREVIOUSROBERT PRICE: The man who literally cleared the way for the …

  • BY JOSEPH LUIZ jluiz@bakersfield.com
  • Dec 19, 2018

Employees at Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds in Lost Hills clap on Wednesday after hearing that full-time employees will be getting a $15 minimum wage starting Jan. 1. Courtesy photo

Employees at Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds in Lost Hills clap on Wednesday after hearing that full-time employees will be getting a $15 minimum wage starting Jan. 1. 

The Wonderful Co. announced on Wednesday that it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all its full-time California employees as of Jan. 1.

The change will give more than 2,000 of its employees a 36 percent jump in pay, as the company currently pays a minimum wage of $11 an hour. The company said the increase marks an $80 million investment in its workers across all of its divisions and is the largest wage increase in company history.

The move comes as the state is working toward a $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2022. Gov. Jerry Brown approved a law in 2016 that steadily increases the minimum wage by a dollar every year, from $10 to $15.

“This substantial investment in our workers will have an immediate and meaningful impact on their lives,” co-owner Lynda Resnick said. “In addition to providing our Central Valley employees and their families free health care and education, we are now able to help them achieve a significantly improved standard of living.”

The company said employees were notified of the pay increase on Wednesday during meetings at some of the company’s facilities in the county.

“It felt like: Is this really happening?” said Julio Roja, who works as a forklift driver for Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds in Lost Hills. “We were just in shock. Everybody was happy.”

Roja said he thinks the wage increase is going to make a difference not just for his co-workers but for their families as well.

“I feel like it was a good thing they’re doing. I’m excited for everything that’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s going to make a big difference for my family, and for all of us. This is good news for everybody.”

Fellow employee Yesenia Osornio said the wage increase is just one way the company has shown support for its employees and their families.

“It’s a great company to work for, not only for the wages but the charter schools, scholarships and other things that they do,” she said.

Company officials said full-time employees who make more than the benchmark $15 per hour also will benefit with higher wages; however, it’s unclear what the amount might be or when it might happen.

Dave Szeflin, executive vice president of Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds, was excited to see the response the announcement about the increase would get from employees.

“What we’re trying to do is make The Wonderful Company the employer of choice in the Valley, and this is a big step in getting us there,” he said.

Szeflin said he hopes other Kern County companies will follow The Wonderful Co.’s example, but said that is unlikely to happen immediately.

“I don’t think we’re going to see anything in the next few weeks,” he said. “It takes some time to figure out the logistics.”

Wednesday’s announcement caught some industry insiders off guard.

“It certainly surprised us,” said Jeff Huckaby, president and CEO of Grimmway Farms, a leading agricultural company in Kern County. “We currently are evaluating the potential impact and what it means for the future.”

Huckaby said his company will continue to offer their workforce competitive wages and benefits that allow for a sustainable future. He cautioned about equating Grimmway to other ag companies, as it’s not an “apples to apples” comparison.

“Wonderful operates at the higher end of the industry spectrum … higher earnings, higher margins,” he said. “That’s not our business model.”

Bolthouse Farms, another leading agricultural company in Kern County, didn’t return a request for comment on Wednesday

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/the-wonderful-co-raises-minimum-wage-to-per-hour/article_ce450db0-03f9-11e9-b783-7f0b989ff19d.html

UC Merced working to open new management school

UC Merced is growing and changing and one of the biggest changes will be a new standalone business and management school.By Nathalie GrandaFriday, December 14, 2018 04:18PMMERCED, Calif. (KFSN) –UC Merced is growing and changing and one of the biggest changes will be a new standalone business and management school.

The university is working to create a new interdiscplinary school, one that university officials are calling the “management school of the future”.

“We’re taking existing programs, putting them together and focusing them together on this complex system,” Gallo School Planning Initiative Director Paul Maglio said.

The new Gallo school will bring together educators from the schools of engineering, natural sciences and humanities to teach students under one main focus. The university is already known for its focus on research and science, and the new school will be incorporating those science components into their program.

“In a business school, you tend to focus on profit. In natural resources you tend to focus on the planet. In cognitive science, you tend to focus on people. We’re bringing all that together to have a sustained focus all at the same time,” Maglio said.

The university’s Ernest & Julio Gallo School of Management already has graduate business programs.

Graduate student Taylor Fugere said the science-based business program is what drew her to UC merced, and she’s hopes a new school will bring more interested students.

“I think UC merced moving in that more specialized direction is going to be really helpful in people being able to explore different career options, and being able to have more opportunities for a hands-on educational experience.”

The process will take a few years. Ultimately, the new school will need to be reviewed and approved by several campus administrators, and the University of California regents. University officials hope to have the school in place by 2021.

https://abc30.com/education/uc-merced-working-to-open-new-management-school/4898598/

So Long Silicon Valley, Hello Heartland: Top 10 Markets and Neighborhoods to Watch in 2019

The hot markets that drove U.S. housing in recent years (we’re looking at you, coastal tech hubs) will give way in 2019 to a new group of affordable, young, opportunity-filled, desirable – and largely inland – cities primed to drive growth in the years to come.

Of the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, Trulia identified 10 that we think are poised for takeoff, based on the following five key metrics:

  • Job growth over the past year, as a measure of a robust economy.
  • Vacancy rates, as an indicator that housing supply does not exceed demand.
  • Good starter-home affordability, as a signal that first-time home buyers stand a chance at buying a home.
  • More inbound than outbound home searches on Trulia, as a gauge that more people are interested in that market than those looking to leave.
  • A large share of the adult population under the age of 35, which represents more potential first-time buyers.

These are the markets to watch. So long Silicon Valley, and hello Heartland:

Trulia’s Top 10 Housing Markets to Watch in 2019
# U.S. Metro Y-o-Y Job Growth (Rank) Vacancy Rate (Rank) Share of Income Needed
to Afford Median Priced Starter Home (Rank)
Ratio of Inbound-to-Outbound Home Searches on Trulia (Rank) Share of Population Under 35 (Rank) Overall Score
1 Colorado Springs, Colo. 3.3% (8) 4.8% (35) 35.4% (63) 1.8 (17) 23.6% (8) 26.2
2 Grand Rapids, Mich. 2.0% (22) 3.7% (16) 23.2% (34) 1.1 (41) 21.7% (30) 28.6
3 Jacksonville, Fla. 2.0% (24) 4.2% (26) 23.4% (35) 2.4 (7) 20.7% (52) 28.8
4 Bakersfield, Calif. 0.6% (56) 6.4% (68) 14.3% (6) 2.3 (8) 23.1% (12) 30.0
5 Austin, Texas 2.5% (14) 3.4% (12) 45.0% (79) 1.1 (47) 24.4% (4) 31.2
6 Fresno, Calif. 1.6% (32) 3.5% (13) 47.1% (81) 1.6 (22) 22.6% (16) 32.8
7 Phoenix, Ariz. 2.9% (9) 4.0% (20) 33.7% (59) 1.3 (32) 20.9% (47) 33.4
8 Columbia, S.C. 0.4% (69) 6.1% (63) 13.7% (5) 2.1 (12) 22.3% (20) 33.8
9 El Paso, Texas 1.0% (51) 5.5% (48) 33.5% (58) 2.4 (6) 23.2% (11) 34.8
10 Oklahoma City, Okla. 2.0% (20) 6.9% (76) 21.1% (27) 1.3 (33) 22.3% (21) 35.4
Note: Rankings from among the 100 largest metros.

Strong employment growth and a large share of young residents helped put Colorado Springs, Colo. at the top of the list of markets to watch (the area ranked in the top 10 of the largest 100 metros for both metrics). After topping last year’s list, Grand Rapids, Mich., came in second this year, with employment growth and low vacancy rates contributing to its strong performance. Jacksonville, Fla., is third due in large part to its strong inbound-to-outbound search ratio. Two Central California markets – Bakersfield and Fresno, the lowest-priced California housing markets among the largest 100 metros – also made the list this year.

Keen-eyed readers will notice a few things in common amongst the 2019 stars on this list. It does include a couple well-known growth areas including Phoenix, Ariz., and Austin, Texas. But it also highlights markets relatively close to more-expensive metros, but far enough away to offer their own attractions and opportunities without many of the mounting affordability concerns that mark those marquee names. Think Colorado Springs instead of Denver, and Bakersfield and Fresno instead of Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

We also identified the hottest neighborhoods in these markets, based on both local price appreciation and how quickly homes are flying off the market.

Hottest Neighborhoods By Metro
# Housing Markets to Watch Hottest Neighborhood Y-o-Y Change in Home Values (Rank) Median Days on Market (Rank) Y-o-Y Change in Days on Market (Rank)
1 Colorado Springs, Colo. Southeast Colorado Springs 12.6% (1) 42.2 (1) -12.0 (6)
2 Grand Rapids, Mich. Alger Heights 16.2% (3)  46.5 (4) -8.5 (4)
3 Jacksonville, Fla. Normandy Estate 13.2% (8) 56.8 (10) -21.5 (19)
4 Bakersfield, Calif. Northeast Bakersfield  7.2% (4) 56.5 (4)  -30.0 (3)
5 Austin, Texas Southeast 16.0% (4) 43.0 (5) -5.0 (24)
6 Fresno, Calif. Mclane 9.8% (3) 52.8 (2) -12.8 (1)
7 Phoenix, Ariz. Agritopia 14.6% (1) 48 (34) -18.0 (23)
8 Columbia, S.C. South Kilbourne 14.5% (2) 69.5 (3) -59.3 (1)
9 El Paso, Texas Album Park  7.9% (2) 82 (3) 1.0 (15)
10 Oklahoma City, Okla. The Village  5.7% (5) 46.5 (1) -19.3 (3)
Note: Rankings for housing markets to watch from among the 100 largest metros.

While there will certainly be local bright spots like the ones we’ve identified, in general we expect 2019 to be a year of moderation and continued transition in the U.S. housing market. After several years of breakneck appreciation following the end of the housing recession, the latter half of 2018 may have marked a turning point and the beginning of a return to more normalcy and balance in the market. Next year will continue to bring more sanity to the market for home buyers frustrated by years of stiff competition and chronically low inventory. But affordability concerns will still plague the market, especially as mortgage rates rise, putting buyers in a wait-and-see mode. Sellers will also respond to changes, potentially thinking twice before listing in an environment that may not be as lucrative as it was in recent years and further slowing buying and selling activity.

For more on Trulia’s outlook on housing next year, check out our predictions for 2019 here.

 

Methodology

To calculate the markets-to-watch metrics, we used a number of data sources:

  • Employment growth is measured as the percentage increase in employment between September 2017 and September 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics program.
  • Residential vacancy rates (October 2018) are reported by the U.S. Postal Service’s Delivery Statistics and retrieved through Moody’s Data Buffet.
  • Starter home affordability is determined using the median listing price of starter homes on Trulia in the third quarter of 2018. Household incomes are derived from 2016 American Community Survey microdata, adjusted to the current period using the Employment Cost Index.
  • The ratio of inbound-to-outbound searches on Trulia is calculated using site traffic from October 2017 to the present.
  • The share of population under 35 comes from U.S. Census Bureau estimates as of July 2017, released in June 2018.

 

The final score is tabulated by averaging the rank of these five metrics.

The “hot hoods index” is calculated by ranking neighborhoods within metros by:

  • Year-over-year change in home values (faster price appreciation indicates a hotter market)
  • Median days on market (fewer days on market indicates a hotter market)
  • The change in days on market since last year (where bigger drops in days on market indicate a hotter market).

A neighborhood’s “hotness” is based on the sum of these ranks. Neighborhood-level days on market metrics are calculated using data for the 12 months ending September 2018. Neighborhood-level home values are based on the month of September 2018.

https://www.trulia.com/research/2019-markets-to-watch/

2019 REGIONAL ECONOMIC FORECAST: MADERA COUNTY

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The Tesoro Viejo project in Madera County has announced a trio of homebuilders that will work in the 1,600-acre master-planned community, including D.R. Horton, K. Hovnanian Homes and McCaffrey Homes.

Published On November 23, 2018 – 7:00 AM
Written By Donald A. Promnitz

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The overall economic outlook for Madera County looks positive going into 2019, with strong growth in retail and residential activity.

In fact, according to Bobby Kahn, executive director for the Madera County Economic Development Commission, one of the primary concerns for next year will be finding the needed space to meet the growing demands. Low industrial vacancy rates were also a problem for the region this year, remaining at about half a percent.

“So on one side, that’s a positive because it shows the economy is strong and our businesses are healthy — all our industrial space is spoken for,” Kahn said. “But then again, when you’re trying to market the area and people are asking for existing buildings, it’s a little bit harder to market to new businesses when you don’t have existing space.”

Because of this, construction has become an increasingly busy sector of the local economy, especially on the industrial end. In Madera, for example, Kahn cited Span Construction & Engineering, Inc.’s recent development of a new spec building at Freedom Industrial Park on West Pecan Avenue and South Pine Street. Kahn said other industrial projects are being considered in Chowchilla. The upcoming challenge will be the rising costs of construction and a shortage of workers as the unemployment numbers go down.

On the residential end, new developments are opening in Chowchilla, while the planned communities of Riverstone and Tesoro Viejo (both off of Highway 41) are selling space at breakneck paces. About 40 houses a month have been selling at Riverstone. While they’ve only been open since October, their business hub is now up and running.

Tourism is expected to be strong for 2019 in eastern Madera County, which depends on the industry. Rhonda Salisbury, CEO for Visit Yosemite/Madera County, said that the 51 days Yosemite National Park was closed due to the wildfires this summer cost them approximately 300,000 visitors, but they have since recovered. Each year, the park takes in an average of 4 million visitors, with Oakhurst being the most popular entrance.

“We’ve had a lot of momentum with tourism the last five or six years where it’s constantly growing,” Salisbury said. “I don’t know that it’s going to grow at a huge rate next year — I think people might still be a little leery of fire, especially our international travelers, but Yosemite is still the crown jewel of the national park system.”

However, like the rest of the San Joaquin Valley, the mainstay of the Madera County economy has been agriculture. According to Jay Mahil, president of the Madera County Farm Bureau, almonds remained the top of the list for 2018, despite a frost causing a 15 to 20 percent drop.

Dairy came in second for production value, while wine grapes and raisins performed steadily. In fourth place, pistachios also had a large crop in the year. Rainfall for 2018 was less than hoped, but despite this, Mahil stated that Madera County was still able to get some much-needed water through precipitation and heavy snowfall. But the weather for next year remains uncertain, and Mahil has called the situation “iffy” for 2019.

“As a grower and a farmer, we’re always optimistic that it’s going to be good, but Mother Nature is so unpredictable,” Mahil said. “We’ll see when it comes.”

In the future, compliance with the statewide Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) will lead to more challenges, as local agencies will have to work to allocate available groundwater so that the region’s farmers will have what they need to grow their crops.

As for the coming year, Mahil said that there would be concerns not only for water, but with immigration as well, as it becomes one of the most heavily debated issues in the Trump Administration. The incoming leadership in the House of Representatives could result in further gridlock on the issue, in which Mahil added. that agricultural communities are often held “for ransom.”

While there will be challenges and concerns facing Madera County next year and in the years to the come, the local economy is still poised to grow, and Kahn, Salisbury and Mahil all remain optimistic as the new year approaches.

“So, overall, 2018’s been a very good year and we look forward to continuing with that for the 2019 year,” Kahn said.

2019 REGIONAL ECONOMIC FORECAST: FRESNO COUNTY


An aerial view shows two current buildings at the Gap campus near Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

Published On November 23, 2018 – 7:00 AM
Written By Gabriel Dillard

By nearly every metric — employment, wages, farm receipts, home prices, construction — 2018 proved a banner year for Fresno County’s economy.

And in the opinion of economists, economic development professionals, industry advocates and more, the good times are expected to continue into 2019, even though a number of negative factors may loom over the horizon.

In Fresno, 2018 was a pivotal year that saw California’s fifth-largest city join the ranks of other e-commerce hubs. Fulfillment centers for Amazon and Ulta came online, bringing Mayor Lee Brand even closer to his goal of creating 10,000 jobs in two terms.

Gap was another large acquisition for Fresno. The San Francisco-based retailer announced it would locate an e-commerce fulfillment center in Fresno at its existing campus near the Fresno Yosemite International Airport. The decision will create at least 515 full-time employees and generate $80 million in capital investment.

While the Gap distribution center will ramp up over three years, the move has already proven fruitful in the jobs department. Gap last month announced plans to hire 1,127 seasonal workers in Fresno

There are also some bright spots when it comes to the development of more shovel-ready industrial land, which has been a problem for site selectors in the past. The 63-acre Palm Lakes Business Park near the airport recently welcomed its first tenants. Closer to the Amazon and Ulta sites in south Fresno, Caglia Environmental’s proposed 110-acre industrial park won council approval this year, but still faces a challenge to its environmental impact analysis.

While continuing to market to e-commerce operations, Fresno economic developers are shifting their sites to tech companies that may be considering moving some of their operations out of the expensive Bay Area. Larry Westerlund, Fresno’s director of economic development, recently said in a public talk that closing the skills gap with our local workforce would net the well-paying jobs Fresnans hope for.

Speaking of technology, Clovis— Fresno County’s fastest growing city — should next year see a major new project at its Research and Technology Park near Temperance and Alluvial avenues. Construction for the College of Osteopathic Medicine in Clovis started this year. As part of California Health Sciences University, the 100,000 square foot facility would be the Central Valley’s first medical school when it is finished by next year, with classes set to start in 2020.

Clovis Community Hospital is also expected to start adding additional facilities next year. More industrial space is also primed next year for the Clovis Industrial Park and Dry Creek Industrial Park.

“It’s really encouraging to see that commercial industrial demand going in Clovis,” said Andy Haussler, Clovis economic and community development director.

Fresno County farms continue to comprise one of the most valuable farming areas in the world, though a number of factors justify calling the current market conditions “stable,” said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO and executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. Water supplies and labor availability have been perennial issues, but now tariffs on crop exports to countries such as China add a new layer of concern. 

One of the Valley’s top crops is the prime focus of those tariffs, and a potential source of pain in a protracted trade war.

“Nuts leads the list, but there are many others. Fresh fruits, vegetables and milk are not far behind,” Jacobsen said. “We haven’t felt the ramifications yet, but we don’t know how long this issue will continue to go on, or if it will get worse before it gets better.”

High-speed rail construction activity will continue in Fresno County in 2019, and Lee Ann Eager, president and CEO of the Fresno County Economic Development Corp., is bullish on the county’s chances of landing a rail heavy maintenance facility. She recently said she has heard rumbling the site could be chose in early 2019. It would add an estimated 1,500 new jobs, which is why bid packages from areas around Chowchilla, Madera and Hanford are also in the running.

The small communities along Highway 99, such as Fowler and Selma, continue to see new development that should stretch into 2019. Eastside communities including Sanger, Reedley and Parlier are also seeing activity. Impoverished Westside communities continue to face challenges, but the recreational pot industry has created bright spots in communities that have welcomed it, namely Coalinga and Mendota. Cannabis-related industrial development will ring in the New Year in those towns.

A potential market slowdown does weigh on the minds of economists and economic developers, some of whom — namely in Fresno — have described a rush to build to beat a downturn. Haussler with the City of Clovis has a background in economics and calls himself a “armchair Wall Street Journal reader. He thinks 2019 will continue to see the good times roll.

“I’m seeing a lot of projections coming into fruition,” he said. “I’m pretty bullish.”

But, he added, 2020 may be a different story. It’s just too far out to know for sure in this time of uncertainty.

HERE ARE THE VALLEY’S FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES

Published On November 9, 2018 – 7:00 AM
Written By Donald A. Promnitz
The past three years have been good to the staff at Lee’s Heating & Air in Fresno. In fact, at a 128 percent rate of growth between 2015 and 2017, the firm has become one of the fastest growing companies in the Central Valley.

For more information on the fastest growing companies in the San Joaquin Valley, please see The Business Journal’s annual list on page 10.

According to Tom Howard, the owner of Lee’s, this uptick in business can be largely attributed to customer service and reputation, along with upgraded software to connect with customers. Another big factor, however, has been the improvement of the economy, both nationally and locally.

“It allows homeowners to make upgrades that they haven’t been able to make before,” Howard said. “I think that the economy is doing a lot better in the Central Valley than it was in 2009 and 2010 — that definitely helped fuel the growth.”

Howard isn’t alone in his observation. According to Fresno State economist Ernie Goss, the Central Valley — which has previously lagged behind the rest of the state — has been making rapid progress in recent years.

“Now the catch up is really [sped] up, meaning the rate of growth has been positive for quite some time,” Goss said. “But the rate has definitely increased and relative to the U.S., it’s certainly stronger.”

In Goss’s research, he found that overall job growth in the Central Valley over the past 12 months has been 2.6 percent compared to the national average of 1.7 percent. Howard said that his own company has expanded its employment roster from approximately 26 in 2015 to about 50. Meanwhile, expanded business has given Lee’s the ability to pay tuition for his employees who are in college, along with their books.

Goss added that construction and manufacturing are two other sectors to watch. Construction is surpassing the national average with 8.3 percent job growth in the region, while in manufacturing, its 5.1 percent. Delano Construction, LLC of Fresno, which currently has a roster of 26 employees, saw a revenue growth of 208 percent.

The last three years have also proven successful for the solar companies in the region. Topping this industry has been Energy Concepts Enterprises, Inc., which went from revenues of $4.2 million in 2015 to $9.8 million in 2017, a rate of 132 percent. SunPower by Quality Home Services also saw growth of 90 percent in the same time frame, while in Visalia, CalCom Energy was up by 47.46 percent. According to Ryan Gutierrez of Energy Concepts, this has largely been the result of higher utility bills.

“Rates are continually going up,” Gutierrez said. “Solar offers a way for a customer to avoid rate increases by covering their own quest for energy.”

Goss said that tariffs on imported solar panels would further help domestic manufacturers.

Meanwhile, a law passed earlier this year mandating solar panels on new homes could also be good business when it goes into effect in 2020.

For some companies, however, growth isn’t necessarily facilitated by a growing economy. For example, BCT Consulting, Inc. of Fresno, provider of technology solutions, tends to be busier when there’s a dip in the market. This is because their company deals in the outsourcing of technology and helping clients find solutions that are more cost effective.

Nonetheless, BCT has grown by 27 percent. Eric Rawn, president and founder, credited this to acquisitions and mergers, along with community outreach and customer service.

“We don’t want to grow just to grow,” Rawn said. “We want to grow because it makes sense for everyone involved.”

In the months and years to come, Goss added that he has optimism for the future of the San Joaquin Valley. Though he stated concerns about immigration and the agricultural exports being impacted by the current trade war with China, he said the region has become increasingly appealing to the rest of the state.

“So there is the ability of some of those companies coming to Fresno and enjoying many of the benefits of California, but not many of the costs that we’re seeing in San Francisco, for example,” Goss said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/here-are-the-valleys-fastest-growing-companies/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=612a341302-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_11_20_09_19&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-612a341302-78934409&mc_cid=612a341302&mc_eid=a126ded657

Waymo given green light to start testing fully self-driving cars in California

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 08:49AM
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The self-driving technology company, Waymo, announced it was given the green light to start testing fully driverless cars in California.

Similar testing is already underway in Arizona.

The designated testing area in California includes parts of Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto and Mountain View.

The company announced the news in a tweet on Tuesday, reading in part, “Waymo was just granted the first driverless test permit in the state of California.”

The permit by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows the testing on city streets, rural roads and even highways.

“I wouldn’t get in one yet,” Palo Alto resident, Joe Novosel told ABC7 News. “But you know, maybe five years or so I can see myself driving in them if they keep progressing the way they have.”

According to Waymo, its vehicles have driven more than ten-million autonomous miles on public roads across 25 cities since 2009.

Around the Peninsula today, people can spot the white Waymo vans, noticeably tricked out with technology.

“They really make no attempt at being hidden,” Novosel added.” They definitely like being seen with their logo white vans and all the crazy sensors that they have sticking off the top.”

“Waymo, by my outside observation of the industry, is certainly among the most advanced companies in this,” Sven Beiker told ABC7 News. Beiker is the managing director of Silicon Valley Mobility.

He says the permit will create a world of possibilities, like mobility options for seniors, those with disabilities or anyone unable to operate a vehicle themselves.

Beiker said testing will also allow developers to understand where the driverless technology is needed most. One possibility, he said, is late night bus rides and the option of having a bus drive from destination to destination on its own.

“The exciting thing is, we don’t really know what it might generate,” Beiker said. “I mean, think about the internet. Who would’ve thought what the internet enables.”

Beiker also addressed concern from consumers.

“The reason can be that we don’t have full knowledge. It could also be that we do have knowledge, and know that things can happen,” he explained. “Because after all, driving is a dangerous undertaking.”

Waymo announced the first driverless rides will be for members of the Waymo team. Eventually, the company will create opportunities for members of the public to experience the technology, as they’ve done in Arizona with its early rider program.

The California DMV has a list of accidents involving self-driving vehicles. To see the list, go here.

https://abc30.com/technology/waymo-given-green-light-to-start-testing-fully-self-driving-cars-in-california/4589022/