Valley employers need mechanics; people need jobs. How this program serves both

BY KEN CARLSON

June 19, 2018 03:26 PM

Opportunity Stanislaus and its industry partners created the VOLT Institute for adults like Gustavo Amezcua of Oakdale.

Amezcua, 27, worked as an operator for Rizo Lopez Foods before the company gave him the chance to become a maintenance mechanic at the McClure Road cheese-making plant.

It’s a prime opportunity for Amezcua to earn a larger income for supporting his young family. On average, industrial maintenance mechanics earn $27.80 an hour in Stanislaus County.

Local industries struggle to find qualified maintenance mechanics and the demand for those blue-collar jobs is forecast to increase 15 percent over the next six years.

Amezcua is among 30 students in the first graduating class at the VOLT Institute, launched in October by Opportunity Stanislaus, industry partners like Pacific Southwest Container and E&J Gallo Winery, and the Stanislaus County Office of Education.

In 2016, SCOE offered space for the trade school in the former Modesto Bee building, at 13th and H streets, which was purchased by SCOE for expanding its services.

Dave White, chief executive officer of the business development agency, Opportunity Stanislaus, said there are 200 unfilled positions for maintenance mechanics in the county. With economic growth, those workers are in short supply as veteran mechanics retire and fewer high school students are trained for vocations.

As the VOLT Institute is further developed, it’s also expected to provide training in electrical systems and maintenance of automated production equipment. The program is supported by major employers in the county that face a critical need for skilled mechanics to maintain equipment and keep production lines running.

“The typical students in our program are in their 30s and looking for a better job,” White said. “There are a lot of people who have a job, but it’s not a good job, not a living wage and the chances of going to college has passed them by.”

Of the 40 students who enrolled in the VOLT Institute last fall, three quarters were in the 18 to 35 age group. Some were “incumbents” or employees of local companies that want them to upgrade their skills; others were young adults with lower-wage jobs, jobless people referred by county Workforce Development, and SCOE adult education graduates.

The group included a teacher looking for a career change.

Though a high school diploma is a minimum requirement for the VOLT institute, 52 percent of the students had attended some college and 9 percent were college graduates.

Deborah Rowe, director of career training programs for SCOE, said last week that 10 students dropped out for personal reasons or discovered the mechanics’ vocation was not for them. Twenty-six of the students set for a graduation ceremony June 27 are employed and the other four are actively seeking jobs, Rowe said.

Ron Losinski, master instructor at VOLT, said he’s well aware of the need for mechanics and other technical positions at manufacturing plants in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. When he was a maintenance manager for a plant in Lathrop, he said, it was impossible to hire qualified people off the streets.

He said plant closures were an opportunity to snatch up skilled workers and some employees were trained in an apprenticeship program at Modesto Junior College.

At the VOLT Institute, trainees first take a three-week course (12 hours a week) to learn the soft skills of working in the manufacturing environment, including ethics, communication, resolving conflicts, decision making and public speaking.

They advance to mechanical courses offered in the morning, afternoon or evening, where they learn the basics of machine tools, mechanical drives, pumps, pneumatic and hydraulic systems, metal working, torching techniques and mechanical circuitry.

The students can complete the vocational training and be job-ready in eight months.

Students in an afternoon class last week spent an hour on computers absorbing concepts, followed by an hour or two of hands-on learning at training equipment stations.

“Quite a few of our students have no mechanical experience,” Rowe said. “We try to team them up with incumbents who have mechanical skills.”

Cameron Jones and a Crystal Creamery employee were tested at one station on regulating the actuating speeds of a mechanical system. Jones has been working for a shoe business at Vintage Faire Mall and heard about the Volt Institute from a friend, he said.

“I like some of their shoes but don’t get enough hours to buy them,” said Jones, who is close to completing the training and is applying for jobs.

Dan Martin, director of facility services at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, said he’s hired two students from VOLT’s inaugural class to maintain motors and pumps in the hospital, wire lights and handle repairs.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community because we have such a decline in individuals that have the proper skills for doing maintenance-type work,” said Martin, who’s on the advisory board for VOLT. “We will interview and interview many times just to get a few people who are qualified.”

Martin said the new hires will start at entry level pay for mechanical positions and soon jump to higher levels when they learn the health care side of the business.

As for VOLT’s minimum requirements, the new students must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma and complete the WorkKeys Assessment that measures skills for success in the workplace. Trainees must have the reading skills to understand manuals.

Tuition for the maintenance mechanic program is $2,500 per quarter or a total of $7,500. Companies sending employees through the training program may cover all or part of the cost. Self-pay students may be eligible for loans or scholarships and assistance may be available for students coming from adult education or the county workforce development program.

The VOLT Institute was launched with a $700,000 investment from private sources. Rowe said the funding that SCOE receives for the program requires six-month and 12-month reviews on how the graduates perform.

Rowe said the former Bee building is taking shape as a career center also offering training in construction, health care and other industries.

When she was principal of Enochs High School, Rowe said, 45 percent of the 550 students in a graduating class would attend college and not all of them would finish with a four-year degree. The military was always an option, but a large number of graduates were faced with earning a living wage without a college degree.

“I want to work for those who are not going to college and not going to the military,” Rowe said. “College is great but we are leaving a lot of folks behind.”

Those interested in training at the VOLT Institute may call 209-566-9102 or send an email to info@voltinstitute.com. For more information on programs, visit http://opportunitystanislaus.com/VOLTInstitute.

http://www.modbee.com/news/business/employment-news/article213140454.html

COMMUTER TRAIN THROUGH KINGS, TULARE COUNTIES PROPOSED

The green line in this map shows the route of an existing train track proposed to be used for a commuter rail line between Huron and Porterville, with stops at several cities, Lemoore Naval Air Station and the California High-Speed Rail station planned near Hanford. Source: Tulare County Association of Governments

Published On June 19, 2018 – 1:33 PM
Written By David Castellon

Imagine living in Porterville and heading to work daily via a 60-miles-plus drive west to Lemoore Naval Air Station.

Now imagine that lengthy commute without driving, but instead taking a commuter train to work and back.

That may one day be an option, and the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) took the first step to make that happen, with its governing board—composed of representatives from each city in the county and the county government—approving the Cross Valley Corridor Plan.

That plan essentially involved taking an existing freight rail line stretching more than 80 miles between Porterville and Huron and running on it commuter trains, like those used in major cities to transport passengers.

Those freight tracks go through several cities in Tulare and Kings Counties, including Huron, Lemoore, Hanford, Goshen, Visalia, Farmersville, Exeter, Lindsay and Porterville, along with Lemoore Naval Air Station. The current plan is to have the commuter train stop at each, though transit centers would have to be built in some of the cities.

Ben Kimball, executive director of TCAG —which plans, coordinates and obtains funding for commuter and transit programs in Tulare County—said Visalia already has a transit center, and the train tracks run right by it, so a train platform would need to be added to the site.

While a train would allow easier east-west commuting between the two counties than the existing bus services, the train also would have a stop near the proposed site for the California High-Speed Rail station near Hanford. So between the two rail lines, a person could live in Kings or Tulare County and commute to and from the Silicon Valley, once both rail lines are completed.

“This plan represents an opportunity to transform public transit in the region,” TCAG Executive Director, Ted Smalley said in a written statement.

His statement goes on to say that in 2016 TCAG partnered with the High-Speed Rail Authority to launch a corridor planning and community engagement campaign to identify how transportation can be improved and to look at public transit alternatives for the future.

“Our goal here is to identify how the corridor can provide convenient transit service, but to also plan how the High-Speed Rail station will connect our communities throughout the state,” Smalley’s statement continues.

Current estimates are that the High-Speed Rail line between the Central Valley and the Silicon Valley may not be completed until 2026, and it likely will take longer for the commuter line between Huron and Porterville to be up and running.

“The horizon year of the plan is 30 years,” with initial planning occurring in the first decade, which would include seeking funds for the project and making sure busses run between the transit stations in each city and outlying communities, so more people can take the train, Kimball said.

As for how TCAG and the Kings County Association of Governments —which hasn’t yet voted on whether to approve the Cross Valley Corridor Plan—would pay for all this, he said, “It would basically be who pays for transit now – a combination of federal and state transit funds,” along with savings from eliminating some bus routes and seeking other funding.

Kimball added that no cost estimate for the project had yet been determined.

And don’t expect to see any commuter trains running any time soon in the two Valley counties. Kimball said the reason this is a 30-year plan is to let expected population growth in and around the cities along the rail line—including Strathmore and Armona—to increase enough to create a sufficient demand for commuter rail service.

As such, the plan is for Phase Two to occur in about 20 years, a launch of rail service between Visalia west to Lemoore and Huron.

And in 30 years, the plan calls for fully launching the service along the full line, all the way to Porterville.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/commuter-train-through-kings-tulare-counties-proposed/

Study Ranks Wonderful Co. as Top Growth Leader in Produce, Consumer Packaged Goods

Wonderful Pistachios

Wonderful Pistachios

Los Angeles-based Wonderful Company was named the no. 1 growth leader in produce and no. 1 in consumer packaged goods last year, according to a study released June 14 by the Boston Consulting Group and market research firm IRI.

Wonderful Company, which grows, markets and sells pistachios, almonds, citrus fruits, pomegranates, bottled water, wine and floral arrangements, took the top spots among mid-sized U.S. companies with sales between $1 billion and $5.5 billion.

“The Wonderful Company is relentlessly focused on driving healthier eating options,” said Adam Cooper, vice president of marketing for the Wonderful Company, in a statement. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve invested more than $3 billion in capital and $1 billion in marketing and brand building. With these investments, and consumers increasingly seeking nutritious choices, Wonderful is poised for even more growth in the future.”

According to the BCG report, Wonderful and other consumer packaged goods companies saw sales rise thanks to developing a range of offerings, targeting consumers, growing their portfolios and expanding into new markets.

“The market continues to be sluggish, but in identifying this year’s CPG growth leaders, we found that there are clear steps companies can take to uncover areas of growth,” said Peri Edelstein, a BCG partner and coauthor of the study, in a statement. “This includes developing a deep understanding of consumer demand, innovating to meet new occasions and using pricing strategically to enhance volume growth instead of as a tactic to drive dollar growth.”

The report looked at more than 400 public and private consumer packaged goods companies with annual U.S. retail sales of more than $100 million. The companies were ranked on dollar sales growth, volume sales growth and market share gains.

Privately held Wonderful Co. is a $4 billion company with 9,000 employees worldwide. Its brands include Wonderful Pistachios, Wonderful Halos, POM Wonderful, FIJI Water, Justin Wine and Teleflora.

The company is owned by Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who are ranked no. 7 on the Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of Wealthiest Angelenos with an estimated net worth of $6.5 billion.

http://labusinessjournal.com/news/2018/jun/14/study-ranks-wonderful-co-top-growth-leader-produce/

Datapath acquires Fresno-based IT firm

Central Valley Business Times

June 14, 2018

  • Valley Network Solutions acquisition creates Central Valley’s largest IT company
  • “Brings together two great companies”

Modesto-based Datapath Inc. says it has acquired Fresno’s Valley Network Solutions, doubling Datapath’s size and creating what it says is the largest IT provider in the Central Valley.

“We have been extremely pleased with the growth in our company and the growing need for leading technology services in our region,” says David Darmstandler, Datapath CEO and cofounder.

“Adding an office in Fresno, staffed with very knowledgeable technical experts, not only expands our footprint, but also greatly improves our ability to support clients with multiple locations throughout the Central Valley.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not revealed.

James Bates, Datapath CTO and co-founder, says the acquisition of Valley Network Solutions “brings together two great companies with expanded resources, talent, and geographic reach to better serve all our customers, expand our team, and better serve our community,”

http://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/72aca2b5-df66-4b79-b173-ddd8b6fb8b62.pdf

Faraday Future Receives Permit and Announces Bernards as General Contractor for Hanford Factory

ONSITE CONSTRUCTION WORK HAS COMMENCED AS FIRST SET OF EQUIPMENT IS INSTALLED TO FACILITATE DELIVERY OF THE FIRST FF 91 BY YEAR’S END

LOS ANGELES, JUNE 7, 2018 – Faraday Future (FF) announced today that Bernards, a commercial builder located in San Fernando, California, will serve as the general contractor for the 1M square foot FF factory in Hanford, California.

The Hanford factory is a turn-key facility, strategically sited between the country’s two largest EV markets, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. This marks a significant step forward for FF in its mission to deliver FF 91, its first production vehicle, to market by the end of 2018. FF has received the permit from the city government of Hanford for its onsite work to begin construction, prior to manufacturing and delivering the first FF 91.

“We are honored to be chosen as the general contractor for Faraday Future’s Hanford factory in the valley,” said Falco DiGiallonardo, VP of Bernards. “EV is the future of mobility and we look forward to working with FF to have the factory set for production later this year.”
As of February 1, the property was completely vacated. FF completed the planning phase, including interior and exterior design, progressing to the next phase of production.

“We appreciate the support given to us by the City of Hanford,” said Dag Reckhorn, SVP of Global Manufacturing of FF. “As of now, our on-site abatement, demolition, and refurbishment work has started, and we have ordered all the long lead-time equipment. We are extremely excited to have Bernards on board to work with us to ready our factory with our aggressive, yet workable, timeline.”

On-site demolition and construction work began in March, as the first batch of production equipment has already been installed and tested to begin manufacturing.

FF is also collaborating proactively with local Hanford institutions and agencies to ready the recruitment cadences and hiring efforts for the factory. Several local training programs have been designed and hiring has already started.

FF announced its Hanford factory last August. The facility will employ up to 1,300 employees, working a 3 shift schedule.

ABOUT FARADAY FUTURE

Faraday Future is a user-centric, advanced mobility company with headquarters in Southern California. Our global team leverages the talents of leading thinkers and passionate creators from the technology and automotive industries to bring premium, intuitive, and seamlessly connected electric vehicles to people worldwide.

FOLLOW FARADAY FUTURE:

www.ff.com www.twitter.com/faradayfuture

www.facebook.com/faradayfuture

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#FaradayFuture #FF91

For more information about Faraday Future, contact: press@ff.com

New company launches to incubate Central Valley businesses

The Central Valley is home to thousands of businesses and now one organization wants to showcase entrepreneurs on a bigger platform.

“Fresno is a great place, not only are we a great place to raise a family, but we’re a great place to start a business and there’s profit to be made here, ” said Jennifer Lopez with Valley Innovators.

Lopez sees a major discrepancy in the way venture capitalist are investing in businesses.

“About 60-percent of VC (venture capitalist) funding goes to California companies, less than one-percent of that comes to the Valley,” Lopez said.

A lot of that has to do with marketing or perception. So Lopez and others funded Valley Innovators– a company that helps the business learn, network and market themselves and eventually attract big investors.

Valley Innovators hopes to serve businesses ranging from taco trucks to technology. They said the Valley is becoming home to a diverse amount of companies and owners.

“It means having more success stories come out of their organization, it means possibly having to expand their organization and contributing to the marketing of Fresno and the Valley as a whole, as a great place for innovation. A place for talent and a place for making things happen,” Lopez said.

The passion runs deep for this Valley native and former Bay Area resident.

“There’s talent here, there are people that are ambitious and want to give back and flex their entrepreneurial muscles,” Lopez said.

Valley innovators launches Tuesday night at the Tower Theater. Over the next few months, they’ll host educational opportunities and networking for businesses and one day a pitch contest in the spring. They believe the next great idea could be incubated in the Valley.

http://abc30.com/business/new-company-launches-to-incubate-businesses/3565352/

Berkeley winery finding success with Lodi winegrapes

By Nora Heston Tarte

Jeff Morgan’s company Covenant Wines purchases grapes from Lodi’s Mettler family for its wines.

LODI—This area’s reputation as a profitable region for winegrapes, especially zinfandels, is no secret.

So, when Jeff Morgan, winemaker and co-owner at Covenant Winery in Berkeley, wanted to add a Lodi zin to his lineup of vinos, he turned to Mettler Vineyards in Lodi.

“The Mettlers are the classic, good-natured American farmers,” Morgan said. “You know that a handshake from a Mettler means as much as any legal document.”

Morgan was familiar with the Mettlers before he moved his Napa wine operation to Berkeley in order to achieve an urban offering in a more populated area. For many years he enjoyed a career as a wine journalist for Wine Spectator magazine.

“My job was to know who the best growers were,” Morgan said. “The Mettler’s reputation proceeded them.”

The move also allowed Morgan and his team to ditch the custom crush facilities they were using for production and begin offering more brands under the Covenant aegis.

Today, Covenant Wines makes 18 wines on seven labels under the Covenant umbrella, including an Israel brand, Covenant Israel. All wine by definition is kosher, but Covenant goes the extra step, assuring every bottle produced by Covenant is handled in the cellar by only Sabbath-observant Jews.

Jeff Morgan, co-owner of Covenant Wines stands with a load of Mettler-grown grapes that are used in making the company’s wines.

Three of the brand’s wines are made exclusively from Mettler grapes. Two of those varietals, the zinfandel and the roussanne, are part of the Mensch label, a Yiddish word meaning a really nice person. The third wine, a chardonnay, is part of The Tribe label also sold under the Covenant umbrella.

Morgan, his wife Jodie Morgan and Covenant co-owner Leslie Rudd source grapes from other regions, including Napa Valley and Sonoma County to make many of their wines, but the only Lodi grapes used come from Mettler Vineyards.

Covenant produces 7,000 cases annually out of its Berkeley facility, plus an additional 3,000 cases in Israel. Mettler wines make up about 20 percent of total production for Covenant in the U.S.

“The wines that we have made with Mettler grapes have done quite well with the wine critics,” Morgan said, adding it’s not just the zin performing well.

Larry Mettler, owner of Arbor Vineyards and Mettler Family Vineyards, said the partnership with Covenant is going well. Every year the Lodi farming family is able to meet Covenant’s needs and orders have grown since the initial 2013 bottle Covenant produced using Mettler grapes.

“We know a little bit about the needs of wineries and small wineries because we are one,” Mettler said.

With 1,600 acres of wine grapes on farmland either owned or rented by the Mettler family, Mettler Vineyards has access to a lot of grapes, boasting 15 different varietals. Popular choices are cabernet sauvignons, zinfandels and petite sirahs.

Lesser-known varietals are also abundant, including pinotage, mourvedre and grenache, as well as whites such as chardonnay, which Covenant buys, and albarino.

Lodi’s climate is responsible for the variety. Grape availability is high because the climate and soil are both conducive to growing several varietals.

“If wineries are looking for product, Lodi is a good place for them to look,” Mettler said. “We can always supply the grapes in the highest quality because we can get them ripe.”

In all, 90 percent of the property’s grapes are sold to other wineries throughout California. The Mettlers have an estimated 12-15 buyers in all.

The other 10 percent is used to create the wines Mettler sells under its own label—Mettler Family Vineyards.

Mettler said word of mouth brings in most of the vineyard’s customers and the mid-range price in Lodi helps. A small brand may start with as little as one ton of grapes from Mettler, but larger wineries like Gallo and Constellation take more.

“We’re all across the board as far as size and volume,” he said.

Morgan cited the price point as one reason the Berkeley-based urban winery decided to shake hands with Lodi farmers. Once known for its Napa Valley cabernet, the Morgans were aware their wines came with a hefty price tag.

In order to reach a larger audience, they wanted to make more accessible wines that didn’t lack quality.

Their first attempt was with a Mensch zinfandel because the Lodi region is best known for its zins. After they found success with one, Covenant expanded to the other two varietals, both whites.

“They’re light, they’re fresh and they’re eminently quaffable,” Morgan said. “As we all know, wine is made in the vineyard, so we attribute that to the quality of the grapes.”

The first year Morgan purchased five tons of grapes from Mettler Vineyards, enough for 250 cases of wine. Today, annual orders range from 30-35 tons.

“Its been a good relationship,” Mettler said.

Berkeley winery finding success with Lodi winegrapes

Historic Merced hotel to be repurposed

Central Valley Business Times

June 5, 2018

  • Hotel Tioga getting improvements under new owners
  • “This can be the foundation for the revitalization of the

Downtown that everyone is looking for” An icon of downtown Merced, dating back to the years when

Herbert Hoover was president, has been sold and is expected to be renovated The Hotel Tioga will be offering fully renovated and updated market rate apartments in downtown Merced.

The historic building, which opened in 1928, will have commercial spaces on the first floor.

PCG Commercial of Roseville is marketing the building. The property was purchased in April by Hotel Tioga Investors LLC and will be redeveloped by the same firm.

The city says the fully renovated Hotel Tioga will bring additional multimillion dollar investments to downtown Merced and will add to the major economic impacts of the El Capitan Hotel and Mainzer Theater projects that are currently underway.

“The Hotel Tioga was a huge boost for the town 90 years ago, and the sale and work that will be done shortly will once again be transformative,” says Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “This is another big step forward for Merced and the Downtown.”

Mr. Murphy says the renovated property “will promote nightlife, and a diversified center that will include retail and hospitality.”

“This is an exciting time for Merced,” adds Merced City Councilwoman Jill McLeod, who represents Downtown area.

“The sale of the Hotel Tioga, along with the renovation of the El Capitan and the Mainzer will bring so much new life and energy to the Downtown.”

A Downtown Icon

The historic building, opened in 1928, has been an icon of downtown Merced and a social and business hub. Adding the additional market-rate housing to the downtown housing scene adds a new dimension to the work/life potential in the city’s core, city officials say. Economic Development Director Frank Quintero says a key element is having a strong residential base.

Hotel Tioga is strategically located close to the Merced Transportation Center and the University of California, Merced’s Downtown Administration Building on N Street between Main and 16 streets.

“Bringing this much housing to the Downtown will help attract the restaurants and other kinds of businesses that people keep saying they want,” Mr. Quintero says. “This can be the  foundation for the revitalization of the Downtown that everyone is looking for.”

He adds that once revamped, the Hotel Tioga will provide another option for living in downtown Merced. “Currently, the vacancy rate in Merced is under 1 percent, so the Hotel Tioga will create new opportunities,” he says.

 

The Renovation

When renovated the apartment units will feature new kitchens, countertops, light fixtures, and flooring. The 73,670-square-foot building will offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two bedroom units.

The architect for the project is Page & Turnbull, a full-service architecture, design, planning, and preservation firm. Founded in 1973, the firm has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. It brings together architects, planners, architectural historians, and conservators to take existing structures and adapt them to meet contemporary needs.

Nine decades ago when the Hotel Tioga was built it was aimed at Yosemite tourists. Visitors could drive up the “all-weather” Highway 140 or take the Yosemite Valley Railroad train to enjoy the natural wonder.

An Historic Building

The building, which cost $250,000 to build, is now on the National Register of Historic Places. In its prime it had a ballroom, handcrafted tile floors, art deco ceilings and the Merced’s first neon sign on the roof that could be seen for miles.

Also on the roof were two penthouses with legendary views of the Sierra and the Central Valley.

The guest registry is a blast from the past: John Kennedy, Calvin Coolidge, Eleanor Roosevelt, King Albert of Belgium and  Archduke Otto of Austria stayed in the six story building. Screen legends including Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper and Mary Pickford stopped at the Tioga. Natalie Wood used the hotel as her residence while filming “Bombers B-52” at Castle Air Force Base. John Wayne called the Tioga home when he came to the Central Valley to hunt. Richard Nixon was photographed under its awning during his run for California’s governor seat in 1962.

Merced’s first radio station, KYOS, began broadcasting from the Hotel Tioga in 1936. And during World War II the U.S. Army Air Corps took over part of the building for office space.

Fresno State expands business school

 

Central Valley Business Times

June 1, 2018

  • To break ground on Ruiz Foods Executive Classrooms
  • “Vastly improves its ability to offer transformative educational experiences”

The Craig School of Business at Fresno State will host a public groundbreaking for its Ruiz Foods Executive Classrooms that will soon be constructed with stadium seating and the latest technology.

The celebration will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 7, on the north lawn in front of Duncan Patio. The Ruiz Foods Executive Classrooms are the result of a $1 million pledge made in May 2017 by Ruiz Food Products Inc., a Dinuba-based food manufacturing company.

The gift will help finance construction of an annex to the existing University Business Center and house two new executive classrooms with innovative education technology. “With two new executive-style classrooms, the Craig School of Business vastly improves its ability to offer transformative educational experiences,” says Robert Harper, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“While the classrooms will be used for our executive MBA program and accelerated bachelor’s program, they will also serve as vital spaces for other students within the university as well.”

The Ruiz family has a history of supporting business education at Fresno State. Entrepreneur Fred Ruiz is a founder of the Institute for Family Business, a community resource that promotes family businesses as a catalyst for economic growth. Kim Ruiz Beck, chairman of Ruiz Foods, is an alumna of the Craig School and serves on the Foundation Board of Governors for the California State University, Fresno Foundation. In 2017, she earned the Top Dog Distinguished Alumna Award from the Fresno State Alumni Association.

The classrooms will be designed to replicate what executives would expect, allowing for faculty to fully utilize technology in presentations to improve learning outcomes for undergraduate, MBA and executive MBA students. The added space will also serve the community. When not in use for academic purposes, the space will be available for rental as part of the slate of services provided by the University Business Center. Mr. Harper says the anticipated completion date for the project is summer 2019.

Bitwise continuing to spread its wings in downtown Fresno. Latest venture is colorful, too