Press Room

Coding firm offering free programs to Stockton high schools

By BusinessJournal

March 27, 2018

CodeHS, a company that provides web-based computer science curriculum, has partnered with Reinvent Stockton Foundation to bring coding classes to Stockton high schools.

The Code Stockton initiative formed by the two entities is geared toward expanding computer science programs in Stockton high school classrooms.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with the Reinvent Stockton Foundation to empower Stockton students to meaningfully impact the future,” said CodeHS CEO Jeremy Keeshin in a statement. “With extensive online resources and passionate teachers, our goal is to bring high-quality computer science courses to high schools in the city of Stockton.”

Organizers of the initiative pointed to a U.S. Department of Labor study that showed there will be 500,000 new computing jobs created in the next eight years nationwide, but only 40 percent of high schools have computer science classes.

Participating schools will receive “free introductory computer science courses, online and in-person professional development training for teachers, CodeHS Pro accounts and ongoing implementation support for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.”

Interested schools can sign up at CodeStockton.com before Apr. 10, 2018.

Coding firm offering free programs to Stockton high schools

 

BNSF Plans expansion of its Stockton operations

 

  • Part of its $230 Million capital program in California
  • ““California is a critical part of BNSF’s rail network”

BNSF Railway Company says it will extend the existing north lead track at its Stockton Intermodal Facility to improve switching capability. It’s one of the major projects the company has planned for 2018 in California.

It says Tuesday that it expects to spend about $230 million on the various California projects.

This year’s plan in California includes several capacity expansion projects in addition to scheduled maintenance projects.

BNSF operates a 2,000-mile network in California and says it has spent approximately $1 billion to expand and maintain its network in the state over the past five years. In 2018, additional production track and new lift equipment also will be installed at the Los Angeles Intermodal Facility.

On the Needles subdivision, BNSF will begin the multi-year construction of a third main track between West Needles and Ibis. Capacity through the city of Needles will also be expanded by adding approximately four miles of quadruple main track to the existing triple track. The 2018 maintenance program in California includes more than 570 miles of track surfacing and/ or undercutting work as well as the replacement of approximately 40 miles of rail and close to 100,000 ties.

“California is a critical part of BNSF’s rail network, providing access from West Coast ports to major markets in the U.S. By committing to ongoing maintenance projects and enhancements in the state, we are showing our dedication to Californians to run a safe, reliable and efficient railroad,” says Donnie Stilwell,  general manager of operations, California Division.

The 2018 planned capital investments in the state are part of BNSF’s $3.3 billion network-wide capital expenditure program announced last month.

http://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/8d2d7a9d-fce9-48d7-a00b-bf5632f7cc90.pdf

Business boon hits Visalia

Danielle A Martin, Published 3:45 p.m. PT March 23, 2018 

County officials looking for proposals to develop old courthouse building. Visalia council split on involvement in building’s development. Luis Hernandez

Visalia’s business boon is well underway and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

New development ranges from housing and hotels to training facilities and offices.

“For citizens [development] creates variety and gives people a choice,” said Visalia Councilman Steve Nelsen. “It creates employment opportunities and even careers.”

Current Projects

The city has projects popping up from Mooney Boulevard to Main Street and across the Industrial Park.

“Our city funds are driven by sales tax and property tax,” Nelsen said. “As we continue to grow, the city continues to benefit.”

Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler called the city “shovel ready” and said an additional five businesses are currently expanding in Visalia’s industrial areas.

“We continue to grow and have lots of land available to do so,” Gubler added.

There was a total of 301 new permits issued between the months of February and March with a total value of $11.6 million, city officials said. The permits included 21 new single-family homes, two new multifamily complexes and one new commercial project.

Dunkin’ Donuts is set to be completed this spring and more will follow on Mooney Boulevard.

There is currently a Marriot Residence Inn going up in the Plaza Business Park. It is projected by contractors to be finished this summer. Directly across the street is a new ARCO AM/PM gas station, currently under construction.

Future projects

Entertainment

Clovis-based The Great Escape, an escape room themed entertainment activity for groups, has set its eyes on Visalia for its second location.

“We are super excited,” Wilkerson said. “A lot of clients we have come from the Visalia, Tulare, or Hanford areas and so we want to bring this a little closer to home for them.”

Wilkerson said it will be located at 3300 S. Fairway Street, near Bowlero and behind the Milan Institute of Cosmetology. The south Valley escape room will feature three escape puzzles perfect for team bonding opportunities or family get-togethers.

Leisure and hospitality

Two hotels have been proposed for the area. One is the renovation of a historic downtown building and the second is a new extended stay concept.

The Darling Hotel is a redevelopment project using the old Tulare County Courthouse downtown. The building has been vacant for decades and last August the Tulare County Supervisors were looking to give it new life.

In August, Councilman Greg Collins said, “You need to have an architect with vision,” to restore and develop the building.

In February, the boutique-style hotel proposal went through site planning and will feature 33 rooms and several meeting rooms. It will also feature a rooftop lounge and a ground level courtyard with an enclosed pool and canopy along Court Street.

A Hilton Home 2 Suites is being proposed in an area just north of Highway 198 and west of Plaza Drive. The hotel will feature 83 extended-stay concept style rooms that are also pet- and family-friendly, city officials said.

Facilities

Voltage Multipliers, a local manufacturing company is looking to expand its current building by 20,000 square feet.

In Plaza Business Park, a 7,172 square-foot project is in the proposal phase. It will be located just north of Marriott Residence Inn, currently under construction.

The project will consist of two buildings with offices and classrooms. Visalia officials suggest a school or training facility.

Another 3,256 square-foot project at 4234 W. Mineral King will house the local Mitchell and Powell law firm.

The new development and expansions are humbling, Gubler said.

“It’s a compliment to our community that these businesses want to keep coming to open up,” Gubler said.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2018/03/23/business-boon-hits-visalia/453107002/

VISALIA INDUSTRIAL PARK UNDERGOING REMARKABLE GROWTH

Robert Rodriguez, region manager for West Coast distribution for Hilti, Inc., a European maker of industrial tools, stands in one of two distribution centers his company has in the Visalia Industrial Park, along with a separate repair building. He said the park is a sweet spot for transporting goods within a day across California and to much of Arizona and Nevada. Photo by David Castellon

Published On March 14, 2018 – 1:50 PM

With work underway to build Amazon and Ulta fulfillment centers in south Fresno, and plans to convert a former tire plant in Hanford into an electric car plant, three new buildings totaling more than 400,000 square feet in the Visalia Industrial Park didn’t grab a lot of attention from the general public.

But among people involved in manufacturing, warehousing and other businesses needing large spaces, the buildings commissioned by Diversified Development Group in Fresno, which has been developing and leasing commercial structures here for more than two decades, has drawn a lot of attention.

So much so that DDG, which built the buildings on spec, had two of the buildings leased or were negotiating leases on them with multiple tenants before construction was done. DDG Vice President Marcus Pignotti said he believes a lease deal for a single business to entirely occupy the 166,000-square foot third building is close at hand.

With that kind of interest among businesses to get into the Visalia Industrial Park, “That explains why we’re in site plan review for our next four buildings,” that would comprise another 689,000 square feet of combined industrial space on a separate, 33-acre parcel in the Industrial Park in northwest Visalia, Pignotti said.

Beyond that, DDG purchased last year another 150 acres of undeveloped land in the Industrial Park, where the company plans to build up to three million more square feet of industrial space, which could include a single, 1 million-square foot building, he said.

DDG isn’t the only business looking to develop or expand in the Visalia Industrial Park.

From 2016-2017, Visalia issued permits for more than 804,000 square feet of new buildings in the Industrial Park. In fact, in terms of new industrial development and expansions, experts say the Visalia Industrial Park and the neighboring Visalia Business Research Park are some the most active commercial real estate spots in the Valley after south Fresno.

Beside what DDG has in store, the former Heller Performance Polymers plant on Doe Avenue has been demolished, the ground leveled and now the owners are planning to build two 400,000 and more than 300,000 square-foot buildings there once they line up tenants, said Marty Zeeb, a Visalia commercial real estate broker.

In addition, UPS, which has had a distribution center in the Industrial Park for decades, has gotten so busy shipping packages that it recently purchased 58 acres, with plans to build a second state-of-the-art distribution center in the Industrial Park, while Golden State Overnight — a regional shipping service — has outgrown its facility, and is building a new, nearly 63,000-square-foot-facility.

Meanwhile, Perfection Pet Food — a division of Goshen’s Western Milling — is building a nearly 152,000-square-foot office and distribution center, while Hydrite Chemical Co. recently completed a more than $16.1 million expansion and capital improvement project.

That doesn’t include the 100-acre Research Park, where a 94-room Marriott Residence Inn and an Arco AM/PM convenience store and gas station are being built near the Fresno Pacific University satellite campus and two car dealerships already on the mostly vacant set of parcels.

It’s a far cry from the area’s modest beginnings in the mid 1960s, when businessmen Al Blain, Dana Clancy and Lloyd Pendergraft spearheaded an effort to widen Visalia’s mostly ag-based economy by creating sites zoned for various sorts of industrial businesses and purchased “not the best farmland” from Florence Doe, recalled Harry Tow, who was city manager at the time.

“They thought we needed an industrial park where industry didn’t have to think about putting in utilities and streets. It was done for them,” he said, adding that Blain, Clancy and Pendergraft had Visalia’s best interests at heart — so much so that as far as Tow knows, Blain, Clancy ad Pendergraft “didn’t make a dime off it.”

In the five decades or so since, the Business Park has grown from a handful of businesses to 379 — from Far West Distributors, which employs just five people, to VF Outdoor, a clothing distribution center employing about 1,200.

It isn’t just your usual industrial park with one big building or several comparable buildings and warehouses occupying one parcel. Instead, the Visalia Industrial Park is like a city in a city comprised of more than 16.6 million square feet of buildings occupying 381 acres spread over multiple blocks, with different buildings constructed in their own, particular styles.

Based on 2015 U.S. Census estimates, the latest figure Visalia officials could provide, 6,932 people worked at the Industrial Park, a third of them Visalia residents. Considering the expansions and new developments since then, the number likely has grown.

Before the recession, new developments were active in the Industrial Park but lulled in the years the economy spiraled, Zeeb said. But as that period passed and the economy improved, developers started actively planning again in 2013 and 2014, and over the last two or three years a lot construction and permitting has followed, he said.

The Industrial Park has several tenants with national and international reach, mostly involved in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, including Jo-Ann Stores, Inc., VF and VWR — the latter a global supplier of lab and pharmaceutical supplies.

One of the main reasons is that Visalia is a “sweet spot” for most businesses with customers on the West Coast, whether they’re individuals ordering items via the web or department stores and other business selling those goods, said Robert Rodriguez, region manager for West Coast distribution for Hilti, Inc., a European maker of industrial tools which operates two distribution buildings and a separate repair center in the Visalia Industrial Park.

“Its a great spot for transit time,” he said.

Of course, Fresno can make the same claim, and Amazon officials have acknowledged that’s a big part of why it’s locating its 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center there.

The Visalia Industrial Park was in consideration for the Amazon and Ulta facilities, as well as a fulfillment center for Nordstrom department stores in 2016, but they all went elsewhere.

“We’re not chasing the big fish only,” said Devon Jones, Visalia’s economic development manager, noting that leasing several 25,000-squre foot buildings can create as many jobs locally as a single “big fish” tenant.

He noted that if an Amazon-sized business or a larger one ever wants to locate here, there remains about 1,000 acres of undeveloped pre-zoned land in the Industrial Park still available, all with sewage and other utilities close by to connect.

In fact, the City of Visalia last year submitted a proposal for Amazon to build its second headquarters in the city, along with numerous other U.S. cities that included Fresno.

Though the ecommerce giant opted not to consider any California sites, Mayor Warren Gubler said Amazon officials indicated they were “surprised” in a positive way by Visalia’s proposal, “and we weren’t even in their radar, and [now] we’re on their radar.

Among the selling points for the Industrial Park that several of the people interviewed noted is its close access to Highways 99 and 198.

In addition, “UPS is our best salesman, because you’ll have large companies that have locations on the East Coast and the South, the Indiana-Ohio area, Dallas. And when they need West Coast, UPS just looks at our area, Visalia being the perfect spot,” and recommends it, said Pignotti, noting that businesses increasingly rely on next-day delivery, and having a UPS hub literally blocks away in the Industrial Park is a big plus, as is having other next-day shippers there, including FedEx, Golden State Overnight and OnTrac.

Pignotti also credited Visalia’s government, which in recent years has streamlined the processes for permitting construction to the point that Jones said some permit applications can be approved within 30 days.

“Sometimes, less than that,” he said. “Because that’s the last thing somebody wants, being in some municipality where it takes forever to get a permit and get started, and they’ve had a delay, and they don’t want to do that again,” Pignotti said.

Among the reasons DDG builds in Visalia is “They’ve always met their timelines, they work with you, they get things going quickly. They don’t just sit around, so it has been good,” Pignotti said, adding that some cities can be extra attentive for Amazon-sized projects but are much less to smaller ones.

Rodriguez agreed, adding that “In the Hilti world — and we are global — Visalia is in discussions, mainly because of the support by the city and the [Visalia] Economic Development Corp.”

So much so that Hilti — which landed in the industrial park in the 1990s; moved later to a larger, 45,000-square-foot distribution center; opened a second, 20,000-sqare-foot distribution center; and opened a separate tool repair shop — is eyeing the industrial park to expand further, possibly tripling the current size of its distribution operations there, he said.

“My own personal perspective is Visalia has an excellent business park, and it’s known and it’s growing. There are warehouses and businesses going up left and right.”

Gas supplier building new facility at Port of Stockton

STOCKTON — A well-known national company that supplies industrial, specialty and medical gases announced Tuesday it will construct a new production facility at the Port of Stockton before the end of the year.

Airgas USA LLC plans on subleasing property from existing port tenant Pacific Ethanol along Navy Drive, where it will build a plant producing liquid carbon dioxide. The process involves using CO2 byproduct from Pacific Ethanol’s production facility.

The CO2 that Airgas produces will support the manufacturing of dry ice used in a variety of applications from water treatment and food chilling to freezing systems, brewing and winemaking, the company said in its statement.

Up to 30 people will be needed to operate the new Stockton facility, working in manufacturing, distribution and management, according to Airgas spokeswoman Kim Menard.

When asked about the cost of the project, Menard responded: “It is our company policy to not disclose project costs.”

She said construction is scheduled to start “soon” and the facility is expected to be up and running sometime in the second half of this year.

Once the Stockton plant is operational, the company said Airgas will have three “strategically located” plants producing CO2 throughout California.

Upon learning of the Airgas announcement, Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce President Diane Vigil said, “Any new commerce that comes to our community and generates jobs is great. I’m excited about this opportunity.”

Airgas, based in Radnor, Pennsylvania, is a subsidiary of Air Liquide that bills itself as a worldwide supplier of gases, technology and services for industry and health. Air Liquide is headquartered in Paris.

PORTERVILLE PAYS FOR FIRST TWO OF 10 ELECTRIC BUSES

Two out of an order of 10 all-electric buses have been received by the city of Porterville at a cost of about $820,000 each.

Published On March 16, 2018 – 4:57 PM
Written By David Castellon

Porterville is a step closer to becoming one the first U.S. cities with a primary fleet of all-electric commuter buses.

On Wednesday, the city made its payment on the first two of 10 38-passsenger buses ordered from GreenPower Motor Co., which did the final assembly of the buses at its temporary manufacturing facility within two large hangars at the Porterville Municipal Airport.

Portions of the assembly also occurred in Taiwan and China.

The Canadian-based electric bus manufacturer is in the process of building a 125,000-square-foot factory across the street from the Porterville airport, where it plans to fully assemble up to 150 buses a year. And depending on how many bus orders go through in the coming years, the factory could expand up to 300,000 square feet and double its rate of bus production, said Brendan Riley, GreenPower’s president.

Porterville actually took possession of the two $822,000 buses on March 8, but the cost isn’t coming from city coffers. Instead the purchases are fully funded through $9.5 million in grants from the California Air Resources Board, which besides paying for the 10 buses also will cover the purchase and installation of 11 charging stations for them.

“Funding for this project is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution,” Leslie Goodbody, an engineer for the Air Resources Board, said in a written statement.

Porterville Transit Manager Richard Tree said one of the charging stations will be installed at the Porterville Transit Center, while the rest will be installed at the city maintenance yard, where most city buses are parked overnight.

For this order, GreenPower enlarged the batteries from the normal size of its EV 350 buses, extending their capacities to 400 kilowatt hours from 320 and the buses’ driving range to 250 miles on a single charge.

Riley said the Porterville buses will travel up to 230 miles a day on their routes, so they shouldn’t have to recharge until they’re finished for the day, eliminating the need to swap out buses to charge them during the day.

Though the city has the two of the new buses, Tree said they may not be put into service for another 45 days, as Porterville Transit logos still need to be adhered to them, while GreenPower will help the city conduct field tests and train transit drivers on the new buses.

Once they’re on the road, two diesel buses will be retired, and the Porterville’s 16 compressed natural gas-powered buses will continue to be used while they’re retired at a slower rate through 2029, said Tree, adding that once all the GreenPower buses are delivered, they will be the primary buses working city bus routes.

Riley said GreenPower will make another bus it owns available to Porterville on occasions when the city needs it.

As for the rest of Porterville’s bus order, Riley noted that the first two buses took six months to build, and the next three are expected to be ready in May, while the remaining five could be ready in mid summer.

As for the new GreenPower factory, he said the initial facility could be finished by the end of summer.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/porterville-pays-first-two-10-electric-buses/

CAR: Housing sales up in state, Central Valley

By Marc Lutz

The California Realtors Association recently reported that California’s home sales were up in February this year by 5.4 over the same time last year. The Central Valley market has fared a bit better despite a lack in inventory.

According to CAR, the sales of existing, single-family detached homes in the state was at an annualized rate of 422,910 in February. That number represents what the total number of homes sold for all of 2018 if rates match what was sold in February.

“February’s solid market performance was likely fueled by rising interest rates, which motivated buyers to rush in and close escrow before rates move even higher as they’re anticipated to do in the coming months,” said Steve White, president of CAR, in a statement. “Despite losing ground in January, February’s strong sales gain more than covered the loss, resulting in a 1.1 percent increase so far this year.”

Sales of existing, single-family homes in the Central Valley were up 6.3 percent year-over-year. The San Francisco Bay Area saw the greatest gains with a 7.1 percent increase over February 2017.

Although newer homes continue to be built in the Central Valley region, industry experts have reported a lack of existing inventory, which can lead to more demand and higher prices.

“Home prices across the state continued to grow in general, especially in the Bay Area region, where seven of nine counties posted double-digit annual increases and five of nine counties surpassed their previous peak prices,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, CAR senior vice president and chief economist. “What’s more, with single family home prices rising rapidly out of reach, buyers increasingly turned to condominiums, which pushed the median price of condominiums to a new record high.”

Professional soccer comes to Fresno — finally this city will be on the map!

By ROBIN ABCARIAN

Professional soccer comes to Fresno — finally this city will be on the map!
Fresno’s only professional soccer team, the Foxes, play their first game of the season at Chukchansi Park, which is also home to the AAA baseball team, the Grizzlies. Fresno, despite its size, has a dearth of professional sports teams. Nearly 8,000 soccer fans turned out. (Robin Abcarian / Los Angeles Times)

Like any debut, the Fresno Football Club’s first game was not without a few glitches.

The scoreboard wasn’t working. A fire alarm went off for no reason. Merchandise sales were stalled by sluggish iPads.

But none of the nearly 8,000 soccer fans who turned out Saturday evening at Chukchansi Park seemed to mind. This was, after all, the first game of the first professional soccer team in an absolutely soccer-mad part of the state.

“We’re making history with a new team in Fresno,” said Alex Llamas, 26, a fourth-grade teacher and soccer coach who lives in Clovis. “To bring a soccer club here is amazing.”

Explore how Finance organizations are deploying new cognitive technologies.

George Aguirre, a Reedley High School senior, was blunt. “Soccer is our life,” he told me before the game started. “We never actually thought this would happen.”

You can forgive Fresnans for feeling ignored by professional sports. Fresno State’s teams are beloved, of course. But when it comes to pro sports, Fresno has only the Grizzlies, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Houston Astros.

Despite being home to more than 500,000 people — making it the most populous city in the San Joaquin Valley – Fresno often has the feel of a sleepy little town. On a weekend, downtown streets are mostly empty.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, who has been working with city officials for years to revitalize the sclerotic downtown, told me that he hopes the soccer team — known as both the Foxes and the Zorros (Spanish for foxes) — will help get the city’s blood pumping again.

“It’s a big plus for the city of Fresno,” he said. “We have a large Hispanic population of very rabid soccer fans. It will be great for downtown.”

You always get the sense that Fresno thinks it’s on the verge of something big, that every advance is going to, finally, bring the world here.

The problem is, Fresno is geographically isolated. It’s smack in the middle of the state, surrounded by farmland. It’s about a four-hour drive from Los Angeles, and a four-hour drive from San Francisco.

Like many smallish big cities, Fresno struggles with its identity.

Years ago, it called itself the “All-American city.” Some boosters have called it “America’s best little city.” At some point, the Fresno/Clovis Convention and Visitors Bureau dubbed it “California’s year-round playground.”

And then, at least briefly, the city slogan was “Be world class. Be Fresno.” (Some have joked that Fresno should change its name to Fres-yes, but that’s a nonstarter.)

Three years ago, state and federal officials descended on a dirt lot next to a late 19th century Southern Pacific train depot for the groundbreaking of Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy project, the nation’s first high-speed rail.

There was much talk about Fresno finally coming into its own as a major California city, connected by high-speed rail to Silicon Valley and San Francisco to the north, and Los Angeles and San Diego to the south. At the time, I wrote that the celebration was so premature it was like “having a christening for a baby that’s still an embryo in a petri dish.”

The hurdles for this project continue to be immense, as my colleague Ralph Vartabedian has relentlessly chronicled. But the payoff for Fresno, if it comes, could be incalculable.

At least while Fresno waits for its moment in the sun, the town has a new professional sports team to root for.

Fresno Football Club forward Pedro Ribeiro goes for the ball against Miguel Angel Garundo Las Vegas Lights FC during the team's the first game at Chukchansi Park.
Fresno Football Club forward Pedro Ribeiro goes for the ball against Miguel Angel Garundo Las Vegas Lights FC during the team’s the first game at Chukchansi Park. (Kiel Maddox)

 

The team’s owner, Ray Beshoff, is a charismatic Englishman who got to know Fresno after he bought a Mercedes-Benz dealership in town a few years back.

I’ve known Ray for many years, ever since he fell in love with my friend Liza in Greece the summer after our junior year in France. A few months later, he left Liverpool with a few hundred dollars in his pocket and showed up on Liza’s doorstep on Balboa Island. After coming home from class at UC Irvine and finding him on the couch one too many times, she suggested he get a job. He ended up selling cars. Lots and lots of cars. They’ve been married for decades.

“Fresno is really underrepresented in the sporting world,” said Beshoff, who had been toying with buying a pro sports team for a while. “This is a community starving for soccer.”

He put together a group of investors and created the new Fresno Football Club, which is part of the United Soccer League, a step below Major League Soccer.

Beshoff, who owned a Mercedes dealership in San Jose from 2002 to 2015, got to know soccer legend Frank Yallop, who was then head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, and is now the general manager of the Fresno Football Club. Fans may remember Yallop as the head coach of the Earthquakes when they won the MLS cup in 2001 and 2003. Or as the L.A. Galaxy coach who in 2007 brought David Beckham to town.)

Yallop and coach Adam Smith have assembled an international roster — players are from Brazil, Argentina, Sierra Leone, England, Scotland and the U.S.

“The big plan,” Yallop said, “is to have our own stadium. We’re hoping to stay downtown.”

The United Soccer League, he said, expects the team to build its own stadium in two to five years.

Fresno Foxes owner Ray Beshoff walks around Chukchansi Park, where the soccer team played its first season game. Beshoff, who owns car dealerships in Fresno and San Jose, enlisted soccer legend Frank Yallop to be team’s general manager.
Fresno Foxes owner Ray Beshoff walks around Chukchansi Park, where the soccer team played its first season game. Beshoff, who owns car dealerships in Fresno and San Jose, enlisted soccer legend Frank Yallop to be team’s general manager. (Robin Abcarian / Los Angeles Times)


On Saturday, the Foxes played another new expansion team, the Las Vegas Light. The Light scored their first goal in the first two minutes of play, and soon the score was 3-0.

It would not be until minute 72 of the 90-minute game that Fresno scored their first goal. In the closing minutes, the Foxes scored a second goal, leaving the final score at 3-2.

“Overall, it was an amazing game,” said Llamas, the fourth-grade teacher, when I reached him by phone after the match. He had the good fortune of sitting next to the Fire Squad, the football club’s independent pep squad, dozens strong, who played drums and chanted during the game. “They bring such a great environment to the field. It makes everyone feel welcome.”

Llamas said he wasn’t disappointed by the Foxes’ loss.

“Right now is a big moment for Fresno,” Llamas said. “Professional teams, the high-speed rail. It’ll bring a lot more people and put us on the map.”

My fingers are crossed.

http://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-abcarian-fresno-soccer-201803120-story.html

Faraday Future requests first permit

By John Lindt

Updated 

    Faraday Future clean up day
    Electric car company Faraday Future hosted a clean-up event in Hanford on Aug. 5 after signing a lease on the old Pirelli tire plant to make it a manufacturing facility. The company’s employees and local Hanford and Kings County officials attended the event.

    Now, for the first time, we are seeing activity. This week the city site-plan-review meeting will include contractors and consultants for Faraday Future discussing the remodel of the big building with city staff.

    Also, Community Development Director Darlene Mata says she expects the filing for the first permit for the company, a demolition permit for the interior of the building.

    “There is plenty going on behind the scenes,” advises Mata.

     At a February supplier conference in L.A., a company spokesman discussed the Hanford plant and their new car-FF 91. ”Our Hanford factory project is developing according to our planned schedule, and we appreciate the support given to us by the City of Hanford,” said Dag Reckhorn, SVP of Global Manufacturing. “We are well into the process of design and permitting and have begun planning our recruitment cadence. As of Feb. 1, the property has been completely vacated, so we will move forward on construction and equipment by the end of the quarter. We remain on an aggressive, yet workable timeline of year-end delivery for FF 91.”
    http://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/business/faraday-future-requests-first-permit/article_025402cd-ecac-5c56-ad16-956161f7d9fd.html

    Merced County Hopes A Deal With Port Of L.A. Turns Former Air Force Base Into Manufacturing Hub

      MAR 6, 2018

    Just outside the city of Merced, slightly east of Highway 99 is what used to be Castle Air Force Base. Like most areas of the Valley, it’s rural. Across the road from the center are train tracks, and you can hear the railroad crossing signals ding. This unincorporated area of Merced County will soon become an inland port.

    Now, there isn’t any water around; we’re still in the Central Valley. It won’t be the kind of port that serves ships and boats. It will be a place for products to be built and materials consolidated, and then sent to the Port of Los Angeles.

    Today, two-thirds of the nearly-2,000 acre base is still an airfield, but the rest of it is the Castle Commerce Center.

    “This is a site that has roughly about 75 tenants, about a 100 different lease holds,” says Mark Hendrickson, directory of community and economic development for Merced County. “We generate about $2.9 million in lease revenue.”

    Merced County is hoping to use a portion of the former Castle Air Force Base as a hub for manufacturing and distribution in the Central Valley.
    CREDIT MERCED COUNTY COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT

      Hendrickson says their goal is to redevelop Castle “to really turn it into a site where we can focus some solid attention on manufacturing. We a want to be a place where things are made because when things are made people are working.”

    Back in October, Merced County’s Board of Supervisors developed an agreement with the Port of L.A. formalizing what Hendrickson calls a “hub and spokes” development. Merced will become a place of manufacturing and distribution, and use the nearby rail line and freeways to bring goods to L.A. to be shipped around the world. In kind, Castle may also become a place where the Port can send products for distribution.

    Merced County isn’t the only Valley county building ties with the Port of L.A. Kern County recently got approval to expand their Foreign Trade Zone at TejonRanch. They also will move the zone’s affiliation to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Port of L.A. The expansion means all of the industrial areas of Tejon Ranch are now within their foreign trade zone. Companies operating there will receive a break on import duties and fees. Tejon Ranch has announced the expansion will bring jobs to Kern County.

    Hendrickson says the same could happen in Merced, when it comes to job creation.

    “Using today’s workforce numbers, about one out of every nine jobs would be right here at Castle in about twenty years.”

    There is one drawback though. More shipping could mean more air pollution.

    Dean Florez is a member of the California Air Resources Board and a former state senator from Kern County.

    “The kinds of jobs and economic growth this brings are very large diesel trucks that are running a lot of things that make the air a lot worse,” says Florez. “You know, that balance is really important between jobs, growth, and air mitigation.”

    One issue is that companies send their trucks full of goods to a port, and then the truck typically returns to the distribution center, empty. If that truck is coming to Merced’s inland port, that could mean hundreds of miles driven just to return the truck.

    “Companies need to figure out how to send items to wherever, but that these cargo trucks not come back empty.”

    Florez says the Air Resources Board should come up with ways to incentivize companies to share their trucks, and reduce the total number on the road. He also says this is really an opportunity for outside groups to develop something like an Uber for trucks, where they share cargo going to the port and returning to the Valley.

    “I doubt it will be state government that comes up with that,” Florez says. “But I do think it will be some outside force that will come in and say, ‘This is the way, really trucks should be running in California, we have this sharing mechanism and it actually would work very, very well.’”

    Florez says he plans to bring this up with CARB later this year.

    In Merced County, Hendrickson says they plan to use trains to mitigate truck pollution.

    “We see our using our rail connectivity on-site to get trucks off the road, improve air quality, open up shipping opportunities for folks not only through Merced County and really throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley to places all over the world,” says Hendrickson.

    Finding the best shipping practices from an inland port will take time. And developing an inland port in the first place has been a long time coming.

    Mike Dozier is the former Community and Economic Development Director for the city of Clovis. He says that these sorts of deals don’t just happen overnight.

    “What happens is you have this vision, and it might be ten years before that vision starts to materialize,” says Dozier.

    Dozier says it takes time for infrastructure to develop, and to convince groups to believe in the project’s potential.

    “You know, you just build on it, you just have to have things ready for when the time is right.”

    For Merced County, officials hope that time is now.

    http://kvpr.org/post/merced-county-hopes-deal-port-la-turns-former-air-force-base-manufacturing-hub