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New Construction Boosts Visalia Industrial Park

With virtually no vacant space in the Visalia Industrial Park a spurt of new construction is underway that will make room for both new tenants, local company expansions and relocations in coming months.

If there are few empty buildings to lease, Visalia sports about 1,000 acres of land “zoned and ready to go,” according to Visalia economic development  manager staffer Devon Jones.

Developers looking to encourage companies who might want a location in the Central Valley are building several concrete tilt-up “spec buildings” in Visalia that can be ready for tenant improvements and occupancy in a matter of weeks.

Making new projects feasible, the city has a streamlined permitting process and lots are hooked up to sewer and water. In addition there has been a $130 million investment in roads over the past few years with easy access to Hwy 99 and the rest of California.

We are talking ’speedy delivery’ – not just for goods but for new buildings that will house future distribution and manufacturing hubs.

Visalia’s mid-state location makes it attractive for ground shipping of goods to the Western US, enabling parcels to arrive in one-day to many locations.

Hub Central
None other than United Parcel Service appears to be convinced, having invested in the purchase of 58 acres north Riggin at Plaza  earlier this summer. Sources says UPS plans a phased development to start with – a modular sorting center to replace its current small distribution center on Goshen Ave. Then, a 400,000 permanent complex will be next for UPS – said to be the big company’s future main hub in the Central Valley. Growth around its Fresno facility has boxed them in say real estate sources. Visalia’s ample industrial acreage is apparently the answer.

The land is the first parcel to sell in the Central Valley Logistics Center industrial park on the northwest corner of Plaza and Riggin since it was zoned for development a decade ago.

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Another big shipper is making Visalia its hub. Golden State Overnight (GSO) now owned by Britain’s Royal Mail, is building a 63,000sf distribution center at a cost of $2.3 million right now.Royal Mail bought GSO last year for $90 million.

 “If Memphis is the biggest hub for FedEx and Louisville is the main UPS hub  – Visalia is our most important hub for the future” says GSO’s McKinley.

The company has a smaller facility it leases now that has truck docks only on one side, says company VP Bob McKinley. The complex being built by Visalia based American Inc will offer triple the number of cargo doors on both sides with full automation on the conveyor system, he says.

The GSO hub will employ about 70 when it opens and likely double that in some years expects McKinley.

“If Memphis is a the biggest hub for FedEx and Louisville is the main UPS hub  – Visalia is our most important hub for the future” says GSO’s McKinley.

Speedy Construction

Perhaps the most active developer who has long recognized the need to offer new industrial space in Visalia ahead of demand  – is John Brelsford of Fresno who owns Diversified Development Group.

Last summer Brelsford broke ground on a fast-track construction project to build 3 clustered industrial buildings in a matter of weeks along Riggin near VF Corp, completing them – a total of 403,000sf – by late October of this year.

Commuters passing by each morning last month marveled at the rapid progress on construction each day.

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While Mr Brelsford says he can’t reveal prospective tenants he is working with International Paper, who a has major paper cup manufacturing plant here, will use the most northerly building, a 140,000sf space according to the City of Visalia who received tenant improvement plans in recent days.

“They are about ready to move in” says city planner Jason Huckleberry.

A second space is close to being filled as well says Mr Brelsford.

Next Phase Coming 

Because interest has been so brisk Brelsford is not waiting to build more “spec” space. He says he expects to build about 800,000sf beginning next March on 33 acres he owns on the southeast corner of Plaza and Riggin, a few blocks from his other project.

Last year Brelsford acquired another big parcel at Plaza and Riggin – 150 acres from Doe family – now fully entitled and in the city limits at the northwest corner of this same key intersection.The spot is just 1.5 miles from the new Betty Drive interchange on Hwy 99 that is expected to be complete in a few months.

If newcomers make the news, expansion of existing industrial park tenants are the bread and butter of Visalia’s economy.

While some worry that many new distribution companies looking here take larger spaces of source but actually have few employees. But some are both big on their space needs and offer lots of jobs

Consider VF Corp, the international clothing maker, who has a million square foot distribution center on Plaza Drive. VF, maker of Wrangler, Lee Jeans and NorthFace outdoor clothing, employs up to 1,100 people and most of them live within a 10-15-mile radius from the facility says the company.VF has recently completed a $3 million upgrade to their facility and plans more in 2018.

Another industrial park tenant that continues to grow larger is Perfection Pet Foods, a division of  Western Milling, based in Goshen. The pet food maker is building a $6.2 million office and warehouse right now. Owner Kevin Kruse says they are replacing a 100,000sf warehouse a few miles away.”We wont have to move our products across town” from their manufacturing plant, he figures. The new warehouse will house products ready to ship to Walmart and other large customers. Perfection Pet Foods employs about 120  at their growing campus of buildings in the northwest part of the industrial park.

As interest in new buildings grow, the vacated space makes room for others who will likely gobble up this 100,000sf left by the pet food company, for example.

Meanwhile smaller players like local developer Danny Freitas says his various Visalia industrial park spaces are all spoken for and he will now build two new 40,000sf “spec” warehouses for lease, one on Kelsey and one on Sunnyview.

Also in the industrial park, Servall, the big appliance parts and repair company says they will open their new sales and distribution center in Visalia in December 2017 at 2247 N. Plaza Dr., Suite D, in am existing 35,000 sf building – one of the few vacant spots in the Mid-State 99 complex.

The company cited their ability to do one-day shipping of appliance parts to consumers and businesses throughout all of California.The business will employ 20.

Speedy Delivery 

 

Naval Air Station Lemoore gets first F-35c Fighter Jets

January 27

 

 

Four Navy F-35C Lightening II fighters arrived at Naval Air Station LeMoore, California on Jan. 25 in what naval aviation officials are calling a huge step in the evolution of Lemoore as the Navy’s first Joint Strike Fighter Base.

It’s a major step in the Navy’s journey to get the Joint Strike Fighter into carrier air wings, currently slated to happen in February 2019.

This is the first delivery of the aircraft carrier variant JSF stealth fighter not only to the base, but to the “Rough Raiders” of Strike Fighter Squadron 125. The squadron was reactivated at Lemoore on Jan. 12 to be the West Coast JSF fleet replacement squadron.

LEMOORE, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2017) Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of Naval Air Forces, speaking at the arrival of the first four JSF F-35C fighters at NAS Lemoore called the JSF “game-changing technology for naval carrier air wings.

Photo Credit: MC3 Zachary Eshleman/Navy

“This is truly game changing technology and, no kidding, what it takes to win the future high end fight,” Shoemaker said.

Still, naval aviation officials say the airframe is a critical cog in the Navy’s air wing of the future. The Navy is transitioning to include the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters and their sister aircraft, the EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft.

The high-tech wing is rounded out by the Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye multi-mission surveillance aircraft and Sikorsky MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters and then next generation of the Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft, now expected to be a variant of the Boeing V-22 Osprey.

“The initial plan is for VFA-125 and the first 7 operational F-35C squadrons to be based out of NAS Lemoore,” said Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld, spokeswoman for Naval Air Forces in San Diego.

The original plan had the Navy’s first JSF unit — the “Grim Reapers” of Strike Fighter Squadron 101, currently based at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, to move to Lemoore this month.

Instead, the Navy opted to stand up VFA-125 at Lemoore as a separate West Coast squadron instead. Groeneveld told Navy Times that no decision has been made on any future JSF home bases, including on the East Coast.

For now, VFA-101 will stay in Eglin and also train pilots and enlisted maintainers as the service begins to transition squadrons into the new stealth jet.

“There is no plan in the foreseeable future for VFA-101 to be stood down,” Groeneveld said. “The requirement is for two FRS while we are transitioning squadrons. Both will be capable of instructing the same syllabus to include new accession pilots and transitioning aircrew.”

Navy’s leadership considers Lemoore an ideal place to train pilots and aircrews. There’s easy access to training ranges in Nevada and it’s a short hop out to carriers operating off the West Coast from San Diego as well as Washington State.

“We enjoy basically unencroached airspace in Lemoore to practice here as we do at sea,” said Capt. David James, commanding officer of NAS Lemoore.

Lemoore, is expected to add more personnel and F-35C squadrons over the coming years. In the past year, the service relocated the “Knighthawks” of Strike Fighter Squadron 136 from Naval Air Station, Oceana in Virginia to the base.

141104-N-ZZ999-012 PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 4, 2014) Two F-35C Lightning II carrier variant joint strike fighters conduct the first catapult launches aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 is conducting initial at-sea trials aboard Nimitz. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Dane Wiedmann/Released)
141104-N-ZZ999-012 PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 4, 2014) Two F-35C Lightning II carrier variant joint strike fighters conduct the first catapult launches aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 is conducting initial at-sea trials aboard Nimitz. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Dane Wiedmann/Released)

Two F-35C Lightning II stealth fighters set up for the catapult launchers as part of the aircraft’s first sea trials aboard the aircraft carrier Nimitz.

Photo Credit: Dane Wiedmann, Navy

 

Construction to finally begin on Bakersfield Commons in 2018

  • BY JASON KOTOWSKI

World Oil Corp. and Trammell Crow Co. have announced that construction of Bakersfield Commons, a “pedestrian-oriented, master-planned mixed-use community” located in northwest Bakersfield, will actually, finally begin next year.

The 260-acre project, the revised plans for which were announced last summer, will include office, retail, residential, recreational and industrial space, as well as a wellness campus.

“It’s unfolding as we envisioned,” Abby Ehman, a senior associate at Trammell Crow, said Monday.

None of the single elements planned for the Commons are in themselves complicated, Ehman said, but including them all in one plan is a massive undertaking.

The Commons is planned to ultimately include the following: 400,000 square feet of office; 300,000 square feet of retail; 280,000 square feet of light industrial; more than 1,000 residential units; and a 200 bed hospital.

Phase I construction, estimated to begin second quarter 2018, will be completed in 12 to 14 months, Ehman said. Full buildout could take up to a decade, and may be done in two phases instead of three.

She said the Commons will be a gathering space for Bakersfield.

“People will park there and go to three or four places,” she said.

While she could not yet disclose names of retailers who have committed to the project, she said a luxury theater is on board and will provide 12 “new state-of-the-art” movie screens. She said watching a movie there will provide “almost a living room environment” for theatergoers.

She said several eateries, restaurants, beauty concepts and fitness have also committed.

World Oil, which has owned the property at the corner of Coffee and Brimhall roads for nearly 50 years, received Bakersfield City Council approval with a unanimous vote in December 2016. Since then, design and pre-leasing has been underway.

According to a release from Trammell Crow, “The project is embracing a passive retention for storm water management, which utilizes landscape areas to naturally filter rainfall. Each area of the project is connected by walking paths, flanked by drought-tolerant plants, creating a walkable, livable master-planned community.”

Last year, city officials said the plan appeared to be “modern and well-appointed” with amenities appropriate for the area.

Alphabet’s Waymo Is Using A Castle In Its Bid To Become Self-Driving Car King

Less than a year since Google’s Self-Driving Car project became Waymo, the company is close to commercializing its extensive R&D. The Alphabet Inc. unit this week showed off how it’s fine-tuning sensors and software on faux city streets at a secret complex in a sleepy agricultural section of California to achieve that goal.

Known as the Castle, a nod to its former life as Castle Air Force Base, the Atwater, California, facility is where Waymo technicians since 2012 have safely created what they call “spicey” scenarios – complex interactions with other cars, pedestrians and bicyclists to help its robotic vehicles get smarter. CEO John Krafcik said tests there on streets with names like McFly Way and the Shirley Muldowney Expressway are vital complements to the 10,000 miles of public road tests and 10 million virtual miles Waymo now racks up daily.

“Our intention, make no mistake, is to go fully driverless and let the public access this technology on public roads. We’ve been working so hard on that task,” he told a group of journalists touring the Castle this week. And while Krafcik, a long-time Hyundai and Ford executive who’s led the former Google X unit since 2015, won’t say exactly when Waymo goes commercial, he leaves no doubt that that’s coming.

“It’s fair to say we’re really close.”

A decade since a team of Carnegie Mellon University engineers won the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge and eight years since Google began a (once) top-secret program to perfect autonomous car technology, Waymo appears to be at the leading edge of the self-driving revolution. After more than a $1 billion of R&D, it’s weathered the loss of key founding team members, faces numerous competing programs at auto and tech companies and is pursuing a rancorous lawsuit with Uber. Yet Waymo’s approach to testing, deployment and strategic partnerships is unfazed and laser-focused on building a business.

Google began doing vehicle tests at the Castle in 2012 after it outgrow a parking lot near company headquarters in Mountain View. While the old base’s tarmac is a bit past its prime, Waymo created a variety of new streets, a roundabout, cul-de-sacs and a highway-like section, all ringed by solar-powered streetlights. A few of the old Air Force buildings and barracks left when the base was decommissioned in the 1990s have been repurposed for Waymo engineers, while others appear to be slowly deteriorating.

On the Castle’s streets careless workers unloading a moving van might unexpectedly drop boxes in the path of a vehicle; rude drivers veer into a Waymo minivan’s lane abruptly and without signaling; and cars backing out of driveways in a simulated residential neighbor pull out when least expected. None of these scenarios appear to trouble the robots at the wheel.

In April Waymo began an “Early Rider” program in Chandler, Arizona, where residents who applied for the program can hail one its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to take them anywhere they request in the metro-Phoenix area.

Although technicians are in the front seats of those vehicles for added safety for now, Waymo technical chief Dmitri Dolgov told reporters this week the minivans already have Level 4 autonomous capability, meaning they can drive without a human at the wheel in most circumstances. “We’re testing everywhere, in downtown streets, on freeways, on all kinds of streets,” Dolgov said.

To show just how sophisticated Waymo’s system has become, it put reporters in the back of its vans for brief test rides around the 60-acre Castle complex with no human at the wheel. That’s not standard practice for any company developing autonomous vehicle technology. Notably, Waymo didn’t require any of the few dozen journalists in attendance to sign legal waivers before taking a ride.

During the 1.5-mile loop, technicians acting as pedestrians, riding bicycles or driving other cars crossed paths with autonomous Waymo minivans. In each case, none of these distractions proved to be a problem. It was as if a skilled invisible driver was at the wheel. Which is precisely Waymo’s goal.

Krafcik identified four applications for the technology that are “super obvious and likely first steps for us.”

The first is in a ridesharing service – that may or may not be under the Waymo brand. Second is for commercial delivery applications. “Things like trucking and logistics makes a lot of sense for a company like Waymo,” he said.

Waymo may also work with cities to provide “last-mile” services that help people get from their homes to a transit station, for example. Interestingly, supplying the technology for use in personal vehicles ranks only fourth in Waymo’s priorities.

“For sure we see this technology as having the potential to be transformative, to make a lot of really good change for the world.”

Commodities company expanding at port with new conveyor system

November 1, 2017

 

PORT OF STOCKTON — One company is making moves to speed up production and make operations more efficient.

M&L Commodities, Inc., based at the Port of Stockton, is expanding its service to include direct-vessel loading and unloading with new high-velocity conveyor belts.

The new conveyors feature 48-inch wide belts and can telescopically reach 190 feet. Maximum delivery of commodities to and from portside vessels can reach a rate of 2,000 tons per hour.

The belts will help with import operations to the company’s facilities, truck and rail and with export from the facilities directly to vessels via ship loader. The move is part of M&L’s expansion plan for infrastructure using “up-to-date, high technology equipment for more productive and efficient operations,” according to a statement released by the company.

M&L Commodities is a logistics service provider, assisting customers with transportation of goods. The company has more than 50 years of experience in international trade. They have strategically placed their operations for close proximity to railways, major interstate arteries and the Port of Stockton.

Their storage facilities are prepared for food grade commodities and organic warehousing, and they refrigerated services, container loading and unloading, full transport operations, vessel loading and unloading and more.

Commodities company expanding at port with new conveyor system

 

Why California is investing over $200 million in vocational education

Abigail Hess |

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Blend Images – Hill Street Studios | Getty Images

More Americans are going to college than ever before. The most recent census found that 33.4 percent of adults over the age of 24 have earned a bachelor’s degree or more. Kurt Bauman, Chief of the Education and Social Stratification Branch for the U.S. Census describes this as, “a significant milestone” for the country.

For many, however, higher education remains a privilege that is financially inaccessible. One way students can invest in their futures without investing in a bachelor’s degree is through vocational education. By enrolling in vocational education programs, students can earn degrees in high-demand fields like nursing, business and engineering which can lead to high-paying jobs. Still, many students believe that a bachelor’s degree is the only path to success.

In order to change this, the state of California is spending $200 million to encourage more students to earn a vocational certificate instead of a bachelor’s degree.

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Hill Street Studios | Getty Images

The U.S. Government defines vocational education as, “organized educational programs offering a sequence of courses which are directly related to the preparation of individuals in paid or unpaid employment in current or emerging occupations requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree.”

These programs, offered by community colleges across the country, are by definition designed to help students find employment. Reports from the U.S. Department of Education indicate that people with vocational education have slightly higher rates of employment than those with academic credentials. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, there are over 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 a year and do not require a bachelor’s degree. The healthcare industry alone is creating millions of high-paying jobs that don’t require students to study for four years.

Despite the benefits of vocational education, it has yet to appeal to American students on a broad scale. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 8 percent of undergraduates are enrolled in a vocational certificate program. Derrick Roberson, 17, tells PBS, “All throughout high school, they made it sound like going to college was our only option.” Today, Roberson is training to be an electrician.

In many regions, vocational programs have even declined in popularity. For instance, in 2000, 31 percent of community college students in California took vocational courses. Today, only 28 percent of students take these courses.

Experts believe that students hesitate to enter vocational training programs in part because of fears that industries like manufacturing will replace workers with robots. Business consultant Sam Geil told PBS, “It doesn’t help when industry is moving out and laying people off.”

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Hill Street Studios | Getty Images

Despite these fears, California is investing over $200 million in vocational education. Today, California Community Colleges is the largest provider of workforce training in the country. The state hopes to use the money to improve the reputation of vocational education and deliver it more effectively.

The New York Times points out that this kind of investment from the government helps corporations cut costs: “They want schools and, by extension, the government to take on more of the costs of training workers that used to be covered by companies as part of on-the-job employee development.” In other countries like Germany, companies are heavily involved in training workers.

Still, Andrew Hanson, a senior research analyst with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce told Matt Krupnick, “Efforts like California’s to broaden the appeal are exactly what we need.”

https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2017/09/15/why-california-is-investing-over-200-million-in-vocational-education.html

 

“The region is currently experiencing solid manufacturing growth”

FRESNO
September 7, 2017 11:27am•  Still sits in healthy range

 

•  “The region is currently experiencing solid manufacturing growth”

The San Joaquin Valley Business Conditions Index, compiled by researchers at Fresno State University, has moved down, but still points to strong growth in the next three to six months.

“The region is currently experiencing solid manufacturing growth combined with upturns in regional construction,” says Ernie Goss, research faculty with the Craig School of Business at Fresno State. “However, as in past months, durable, or heavy manufacturing, continues to lag behind non-durable manufacturing, including food processing.”

The index is a leading economic indicator from a survey of individuals making company purchasing decisions for firms in the counties of Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare. It is produced using the same methodology as that of the national Institute for Supply Management.

The Components
• Employment: After moving below growth neutral for December, the employment gauge climbed above the threshold every month since. The August index declined to a still healthy 57.9 from July’s record high of 63.2.

“Over the past 12 months, the San Joaquin [Valley] region has experienced strong and improving job growth at 2.1 percent, which is well above the pace of the nation’s 1.5 percent,” says Mr. Goss.

• Wholesale Prices: The prices-paid index, which tracks the cost of purchased raw materials and supplies, slipped to 70.2 from 71.2 in July, indicating modest but elevated inflationary pressures at the wholesale level.

“I expect inflationary pressures at both the consumer and wholesale level to moderate in the months ahead. As a result, I expect the Federal Reserve to delay another rate hike until the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, or first quarter of 2018,” says Mr. Goss.

• Business Confidence: Looking ahead six months, economic optimism, as captured by the business confidence index, slipped to 65.3 from July’s 70.0.

• Inventories: In another show of economic confidence, the inventory index remained above growth neutral for August. The August inventory declined to 52.3 from 54.5 in July.

• Trade: The new export orders index fell to 46.9 from 53.8 in July while the import index dropped to 41.9 from July’s 48.1.

• Other components: Other components of the August Business Conditions Index were: new orders at 60.5, down from 67.1 in July; production or sales at 62.8, down from July’s 71.7; and delivery lead time at 61.4, up from last month’s 57.4.

http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=33267

CalCom and SunLink Partner to Bring Solar to Farms in California’s Central Valley

Central California

February 15, 2017
Business Wire

With shared expertise in designing, permitting, building and optimizing solar energy systems for agricultural operations, SunLink Corporation and CalCom Solar have successfully completed three solar projects in Shafter and Wasco, Calif. – the first in a larger Central Valley portfolio of installations.

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170215005355/en/

To streamline all project construction, SunLink standardized its mounting solution design and permit set to align with CalCom’s installation preferences. SunLink PowerCare geotechnical testing was also performed on sites in Madera and Tipton, Calif., to optimize designs and inform the installation teams in order to further accelerate these projects’ timelines. CalCom was then able to customize and complete the installation per that customer’s needs, such as uneven terrain and boundary constraints.

“When it comes to the geotechnical, engineering and installation expertise essential for agricultural solar projects, our suite of products+services+software solutions answers the needs of farmers and growers for lower project costs, reduced risk and easy long-term operation. We understand the project priorities and drivers of this market,” said SunLink CEO Michael Maulick. “Working closely with the other agricultural experts at CalCom, we are able to streamline the entire project lifecycle and deliver more successful energy assets.”

“CalCom Solar has the technology and knowledge that can help make solar work for many farmers both financially and operationally. By going solar, farming operations can significantly lower operational costs, saving them more money annually on utility bills. The system will also help hedge against raising utility rates, delivering significate utility savings over the next 25 years,” stated Dylan Dupre, CEO of CalCom Solar. “CalCom has made a name for itself as a leader in Central Valley agricultural solar with more than 100 MW deployed at some of the largest agricultural sites in the region. We seek out partners who also pride themselves with capabilities in this area, and SunLink’s demonstrated success from engineering to mounting solutions has proven a valuable asset.”

About SunLink

SunLink Corporation brings powerful solar energy solutions to market through innovative, highly engineered products, in-demand customer services and best-of-breed software that make solar PV electricity easier, safer, more reliable and less expensive to install. In addition to bringing to market well-designed products that are agile in their implementation, the company leverages unparalleled R&D, a legacy of more than a GW of successful projects, state-of-the-art engineering and creative problem solving to develop optimized, full-scope product+service+software solutions for roof and ground-mount solar projects of every size and complexity. It is this unique combination of trusted insights, products, services and EnTech convergence that helps solar developers and installers overcome obstacles and furthers the industry’s shared mission of advancing universal solar power adoption. For more information, visit www.sunlink.com or follow twitter.com/sunlink.

About CalCom Solar

Founded in California’s Central Valley, CalCom Solar provides energy solutions for commercial agricultural operations and water management organizations. Today CalCom Solar employs 58 people full-time, and hires as many as 70 temporary employees from the local community. The success of the company reflects CalCom Solar’s sustainability ethic and strong conviction that a company can provide customers with reliable energy solutions, maintain profitability, and have a positive impact on the community and the environment. For more information, please visit www.calcomsolar.co