Press Room

FRESNO STATE RECEIVED A LARGE DONATION TO EXPAND THE ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT

FRESNO, Calif. – Fresno State is getting a huge jolt to its engineering program. Monday the school received a 450-thousand dollar donation to help expand the department.

Thanks to a new partnership with Chevron, Fresno State will continue to grow as a leader in stem education
“We have a very strong engineering ag and science and math program — all three coming together so it will elevate the program…make us stronger for all of our students,” said Fresno State President, Dr. Joseph Castro.

Monday representatives from Chevron presented Dr. Joseph Castro and the university a check for $450-thousand dollars. The donation will allow Fresno State to expand its engineering programs and to develop a process and control automation academy at the university. All students who complete the program will receive a special certificate.

“The funding we receive from Chevron will help us to develop materials and purchase equipment and mount this new certificate program that will enable our students to be more successful in preparing for jobs in the manufacturing industry,” said Dr. Castro.

Students say this donation will enable engineering majors the opportunity to advance their skill set and be better prepared for life after graduation.

Engineering major, Elias Karan said, “You’re not only learning theory in the classroom…you’re actually doing some hands-on practical work and that’s a great resume builder it’s going to make our students and our graduates much more competitive especially in the valley.”

Part of the money will also go to Fresno States College of Science and Mathematics Physics outreach program — where engineering majors visit valley schools and educate potential future students.

“We serve largely the valley students so it’s going to strengthen the valley because these students will get out there and become part of the next generation of leaders,” said Dr. Castro.

Merced County inks deal to (maybe) bring in thousands of jobs.

OCTOBER 24, 2017 6:45 PM

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

 

Three Kings dairies get CDFA methane grants

  • By John Lindt in Hanford Sentinel

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded $35.2 million in grant funding to 18 dairy digester projects across the state. These projects, part of the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manure on California dairy farms.

Projects approved in Kings County include $3 million to Wreden Ranch near Hanford, $3 million to Hanford-area dairy Cloverdale and Hollandia Farms, also of Hanford, awarded $1.5 million. Each dairy had to put up substantially more for their projects in matching funds.

Dairy manure produces methane when it decomposes. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that traps more than 80 times as much heat in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Dairy digesters help capture methane emissions, which can be used to produce electricity or natural gas.

Each project plans to capture methane emissions from a covered lagoon and transport the gas to a collection point to be converted to biomethane fuel for vehicles. The process turns an airborne pollution problem into a business opportunity.

Central Valley markets stronger than national average

Serious mortgage delinquency rate holds steady

IRVINE
October 10, 2017

•  Nationally, near 10-year low

•  Central Valley markets stronger than national average

Nationally, 4.6 percent of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due including those in foreclosure) in July, a 0.9 percentage point year-over-year decline in the overall delinquency rate compared with July 2016 when it was 5.5 percent, according to a new report released Tuesday by real estate financial information company CoreLogic Inc. (NYSE: CLGX) of Irvine.

As of July, the foreclosure inventory rate, which measures the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process, was 0.7 percent, down from 0.9 percent in July 2016 and the lowest since the rate was also 0.7 percent in July 2007.

Here is how Central Valley markets look, according to CoreLogic:

• In Stockton-Lodi, 3.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.4 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.8 percentage points. Stockton-Lodi mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.2 percent in July compared with 1.5 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.4 percent a year earlier.

• In Visalia-Porterville, 4.9 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 5.3 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.4 percentage points. Visalia-Porterville mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.5 percent in July compared with 1.8 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.5 percent a year earlier.

• In Bakersfield, 5.1 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 5.6 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.5 percentage points. Bakersfield mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.7 percent in July compared with 2.1 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.5 percent compared with 0.6 percent a year earlier.

• In metropolitan Sacramento, 2.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 3.1 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.5 percentage points. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 0.9 percent in July compared with 1.2 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.2 percent compared with 0.3 percent a year earlier.

• In Modesto, 3.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.2 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.6 percentage points. Modesto mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.1 percent in July compared with 1.5 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.4 percent a year earlier.

• In Merced, 3.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.3 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.7 percentage points. Merced mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.0 percent in July compared with 1.5 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.4 percent a year earlier.

• In Madera, 4.6 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.9 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.3 percentage points. Madera mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.6 percent in July compared with 1.9 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.5 percent compared with 0.5 percent a year earlier.

• In Fresno, 4.3 percent of mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days (including those in foreclosure) in July compared with 4.8 percent in July 2016, representing a decrease of 0.5 percentage points. Fresno mortgages in serious delinquency (90+ days past due) totaled 1.3 percent in July compared with 1.7 percent in July 2016. The foreclosure inventory rate for this July was 0.3 percent compared with 0.5 percent a year earlier.

Measuring early-stage delinquency rates is important for analyzing the health of the mortgage market, CoreLogic says. To monitor mortgage performance comprehensively, CoreLogic says it examines all stages of delinquency as well as transition rates, which indicate the percentage of mortgages moving from one stage of delinquency to the next.

The national rate for early-stage delinquencies, defined as 30-59 days past due, was 2 percent in July, down slightly from 2.3 percent in July 2016. The share of mortgages that were 60-89 days past due in July was 0.7 percent, unchanged from July 2016. The serious delinquency rate (90 days or more past due) declined from 2.5 percent in July 2016 to 1.9 percent in July and remains near the 10-year low of 1.7 percent reached in July 2007. Alaska was the only state to experience a year-over-year increase in its serious delinquency rate.

“While the U.S. foreclosure rate remains at a 10-year low as of July, the rate across the 100 largest metro areas varies from 0.1 percent in Denver to 2.2 percent in New York,” says Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Likewise, the national serious delinquency rate remains at 1.9 percent, unchanged from June, and when analyzed across the 100 largest metros, rates vary from 0.6 percent in Denver to 4.1 percent in New York.”

Since early-stage delinquencies can be volatile, CoreLogic also analyzes transition rates. The share of mortgages that transitioned from current to 30-days past due was 0.9 percent in July, down from 1.1 percent in July 2016, it says. By comparison, in January 2007 just before the start of the financial crisis, the current-to-30-day transition rate was 1.2 percent and it peaked in November 2008 at 2 percent.

“Even though delinquency rates are lower in most markets compared with a year ago, there are some worrying trends,” says Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “For example, markets affected by the decline in oil production or anemic job creation have seen an increase in defaults. We see this in markets such as Anchorage, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana where the serious delinquency rate rose over the last year.”

http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=33430

Wonderful Spec Project Underway in Central Valley

The 1 million-square-foot building, which will sit within the 1,600-acre Wonderful Industrial Park in Shafter, Calif., is one of only a few developments of its kind in the market.
4100 Express Ave., Shafter, Calif.
4100 Express Ave. in Shafter, Calif.

The call for premier industrial space in California’s Central Valley is growing louder, and Wonderful Real Estate, formerly Roll Real Estate, is responding with a new project. The company is in the midst of developing a 1 million-square-foot speculative industrial property in Shafter, Calif., roughly 130 miles north of Los Angeles and 100 miles south of Fresno in the Central Valley.

It’s the right time and the right place. “Strengthening market fundamentals, growth of e-commerce and awareness of the Central Valley industrial market has given us the confidence to go spec,” Joe Vargas, president of Wonderful Real Estate Development, said in a prepared statement. WRE is constructing the new building at 4100 Express Ave., within the company’s 1,600-acre, rail-served Wonderful Industrial Park. The project holds the distinction of being one of just a few million-square-foot-plus spec industrial developments currently underway with 40-foot clear height, oversized large truck courts and access to four major U.S. Ports (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Hueneme and Oakland).

4100 Express’s location will provide users with even more than cutting-edge accommodations and coveted transportation infrastructure; it will also offer access to an ample pool of labor that is both qualified and committed. WRE notes that existing tenants at Wonderful Industrial Park consistently record annual labor turnover rates in the low single-digit range.

Central Valley takes center stage

Solid positive net absorption and strong rental growth have characterized the Central Valley industrial market for the last two years, according to a second quarter report by commercial real estate services firm JLL, which spearheads leasing activity at Wonderful Industrial Park. And even in the face of new development, the vacancy rate remains a respectable 5.3 percent and is expected to head downward. There’s something about the Central Valley.

“Demand is coming from primarily big-box users looking to capitalize on real estate costs and outbound distribution. Between super-regional distribution plays and e-commerce distribution the Central Valley is cementing itself as a Tier 1 distribution market within the Southwest U.S.,” Mac Hewett, vice president with JLL, told Commercial Property Executive.

WRE expects 4100 Express to be ready to welcome its first tenants in March 2018.

Image courtesy of Wonderful Real Estate

https://www.cpexecutive.com/post/wonderful-spec-project-underway-in-central-valley/

 

Kern County leads US in agriculture production for first time

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

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

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

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

Gallo connecting with Stanislaus, Merced county schools to develop workforce

Central Valley Business Journal
By NORA HESTON TARTE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Del Monte Closing Indiana Plant, Shifting Work to California

AP
Sept. 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self-driving cars now roam across former California military facilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

The stereo speaker company giving sight to self-driving cars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waymo declined to let a Chronicle reporter tour its facility.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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