Merced County is developing a 2,000-acre auto tech center for Silicon Valley’s self-driving cars

Jul 31, 2017
by Jody Meacham
Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Merced County is in the process of developing a 2,000-acre site encompassing the former Castle Air Force Base, which it hopes will become the center for testing, development and manufacturing of automotive technology, including for many of the self-driving cars being developed in Silicon Valley.

Adam Wasserman, managing partner of Scottsdale, Arizona-based GLDPartners, which consults with international companies on optimizing their supply chains, said the project expects to announce its first tenant — likely linked to Silicon Valley’s R&D efforts on autonomous driving R&D — by early fall.

Google is already using a site adjacent to Merced County’s planned Mid-California AutoTech Testing, Development and Production Campus for its self-driving car testing. (photo courtesy of Google Inc).

Google is already using a 91-acre site for its own autonomous car testing program adjacent to the planned Mid-California AutoTech Testing, Development and Production Campus, county officials said.

At full build-out, the development plan calls for 8 million square feet of industrial space employing about 9,300 people.

“It just puts us on that technology map that everybody in Silicon Valley is enjoying,” said Daron McDaniel, chair of the county’s board of supervisors.

Merced County hired GLDPartners after several failed attempts to commercialize the Castle property, which it took ownership of in 2006 following the air base’s 1995 closure.

The county’s median family income was about $43,000 in 2016, about 80 percent of the national median, and about a quarter of its 262,000 residents live below the poverty line, according to census figures.

Before settling on auto technology, the company researched several other business sectors including food production, medical products, commercial space systems, industrial machines and specialty chemicals based on how they might fit in those sectors’ supply chains.

“The project takes advantage of the dire lack of testing facilities anywhere in the country, much less in California, where much of the research that is shaping the global auto industry is now taking place,” Wasserman wrote in an email.

The site works because of the concentration of international auto tech research in Silicon Valley, the proximity of Bay Area universities and 13-year-old UC Merced, which is forecast to double its enrollment to 14,000 students within three years and already has solar energy and drone facilities at Castle.

That is coupled with transportation infrastructure including an airfield capable of handling the largest cargo planes and two major railroads connected to ports in Stockton and Oakland so that the site can handle manufacturing as well as testing.

The county is securing $200 million to connect the site to State Route 99 by a road to be called the Atwater-Merced Expressway.

“We strongly believe — and it’s obviously been evidenced by Google and the work they do onsite with their autonomous vehicle program — we’re going to be incredibly competitive in the auto tech sector,” said Mark Hendrickson, the county’s economic development director.

Part of the site was originally pitched by the county to California high-speed rail officials for the system’s heavy maintenance facility, which is to be located in the San Joaquin Valley, but McDaniel said there has been no indication when they would make a decision.

“If high-speed rail wants us they need to pull the trigger right away,” he said.

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Google set to lease Castle site for self-driving car program

By Victor Patton and Ramona Giwargis

 

Central Valley counties see surprising ebb and flow of residents 

WASHINGTON, D.C.
August 11, 2017 10:57am

The U.S. population is on the move, and not just down the block, according to a new report from the Census Bureau.

It has updated its “Census Flows Mapper” to include data from the 2011-2015 American Community Survey. Census Flows Mapper is a web mapping application that allows users to view and save county-to-county migration flows in the United States. Users can sort and customize maps by dataset, type of migration flow, colors and range of movers.

Each dataset features different characteristics using five-year American Community Survey data. The updated tables cover migration flows between counties by selected characteristics including sex, age, race and Hispanic origin. Additional characteristics such as household income, educational attainment and employment statistics are available in previous datasets.

Here’s a look at some of the ebbing and flowing among Central Valley counties:

• San Joaquin County Population (1 yr and over): 698,554 Movers from a different state: 6,712 Movers to a different state: 7,527 Movers from a different county, same state: 26,526 Movers to a different county, same state: 20,196 Movers from abroad: 3,121

• Stanislaus County Population (1 yr and over): 519,889 Movers from a different state: 4,045 Movers to a different state: 4,407 Movers from a different county, same state: 16,316 Movers to a different county, same state: 15,036 Movers from abroad: 1,746

• Merced County Population (1 yr and over): 259,873 Movers from a different state: 1,689 Movers to a different state: 2,716 Movers from a different county, same state: 11,310 Movers to a different county, same state: 9,077 Movers from abroad: 1,196

• Madera County Population (1 yr and over): 150,756 Movers from a different state: 958 Movers to a different state: 1,545 Movers from a different county, same state: 6,941 Movers to a different county, same state: 7,127 Movers from abroad: 455

• Fresno County Population (1 yr and over): 943,481 Movers from a different state: 6,085 Movers to a different state: 9,181 Movers from a different county, same state: 25,472 Movers to a different county, same state: 22,330 Movers from abroad: 4,165

• Tulare County Population (1 yr and over): 447,267 Movers from a different state: 4,923 Movers to a different state: 4,478 Movers from a different county, same state: 9,864 Movers to a different county, same state: 10,563 Movers from abroad: 1,449

• Kings County Population (1 yr and over): 149,063 Movers from a different state: 3,121 Movers to a different state: 3,268 Movers from a different county, same state: 10,655 Movers to a different county, same state: 8,120 Movers from abroad: 1,040

• Kern County Population (1 yr and over): 853,918 Movers from a different state: 8,640 Movers to a different state: 12,674 Movers from a different county, same state: 30,411 Movers to a different county, same state: 23,546 Movers from abroad: 3,602

Surfing Ranch could open soon

Visalia Time-Delta

by John Lindt
 Aug. 4, 2017

Getting stoked over surf ranch

If you can plop down a critical US Navy base 120 miles from the ocean, why scratch your head when you hear about a 155-acre competitive surfing event center, a ”Surf Ranch” located near Lemoore?

That’s the vision of famed surfer Kelly Slater, who owns a permitted wave generation complex originally built on a man-made lake, 700 yards long and 70 yards wide, designed for water-skiing. With some major upgrades and tweaks to the wave generation options, Slater and his investors now plan to expand the operation year-round. It will be open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., according to a new conditional use permit application filed with the county this summer.

The application says the ranch will be staffed with 50 employees, who will continue to do development of prototype wave generation systems.

The application also states the facility will offer recreational use and competitive surfing events with outdoor music and camping for visitors. They are asking for a permit to hold large events – attracting as many as 8,000 visitors for three-day events, six times a year.

Madera companies show off

FRESNO

The Madera Tribune
August 5, 2017
by Tyler A. Takeda

More than 1,100 people converged to the Fresno Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall to view more than 140 exhibits at the seventh annual Fresno Food Expo, the largest regional food show in the nation.

Among the 140 exhibitors were 11 from the Madera area, including ENZO Olive Oil Company, which won two awards at the Expo.

“The expo is all about listening to the needs of our exhibitors and making meaningful connections to grow their businesses, expand collaborations and draw focus to celebrate Central California’s thriving food industry,” said David Nalchajian, general manager, Fresno Food Expo. “The synergy experienced this year among exhibiting companies is unlike what we’ve seen before. You’ve heard the reference ‘the seven year itch.’ In the case of the Fresno Food Expo, our seventh year has unleashed opportunity for year-round enrichment for our exhibitors where they’ve been able to immediately utilize tools and put them to work as part of overall growth strategies. The regional food industry, national and international buyers and the public are coming together at an entirely different level, which is both exciting and humbling.”


ENZO, which has a store in Clovis, but grows its olives in Madera County, won the Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award, which honors an innovative Valley-based food or beverage company that demonstrates exemplary leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit, all while being an exceptional community steward. Named in honor of Fred Ruiz, founder of Ruiz Food Products, Inc., this award recognizes companies who have the same vision and qualities that took Ruiz Foods from a small, family start-up to the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the United States. In addition to the award, ENZO will also receive advice and mentoring for a year from Ruiz and a team of food industry professionals.

“Anytime you can win an award with Fred Ruiz’s name attached is an honor and humbling at the same time,” said ENZO co-owner Vincent Ricchuitti. “One of the thing that resonated with him is our energy and our passion. The fact that we’re a family company and have been farming in Madera a long time. We re-invented part of our business to take on this venture. He recognized the challenge in that and saw the passion our family had for this venture.”


ENZO Olive Oil’s Fresno Chili Crush also took second place in the New Product Awards Buyer’s Choice Awards.

“The Fresno Chili Crush is one of our most well-received items we have ever made,” Ricchiuti said. “It’s an exciting night.”

Better Butter
Contact: Mallvinder Kahal, co-founder

Featuring: We’re showcasing our No. 1 product, our Better (almond) Butter. We’re sampling it with bananas and apples to show its versatility. But, we’re also showing the product on its own to show how rich it is.

What has been the response: Taste-wise, everything has been positive, which has boosted our confidence in the product. We’re really happy with the feedback on the product.

Where can people buy your product: Right now, our most successful spot to find us is on Amazon: Kahal Better Butter. We’re working on the local retailers to try to convince them that our product is something they want to carry. This Expo has also showed us how to approach distributors and retailers. We discovered a whole new slew of challenges, but at least we know what the challenges are versus walking in the dark.

Heart Ridge Farms
Contact: Steve Spears, national salesperson

Featuring: We’re pushing our line of seasoned almonds. We grow our own almonds. We have our own European dry roast process for almonds. We have various flavors.

What has been the response: The response from vendors, retailers and buyers has been very favorable. We’re somewhat new as far as having a focus, a more retail business.

Where can people buy your product: We are in the local Von’s stores and various brick-and-mortor stores. In 30-60 days, we will be in the more independent stores from Bakersfield to Stockton and Save Mart.

Cru Winery
Contact: Alexis Sosa-Valentine, tasting room and wine club manager

Featuring: We’re showcasing our pinot noir and chardonney.

What has been the 
response: Everyone loves the wine. They were both big winners at the San Francisco wine competition and big winners at the Expo today.

Where can people buy your product: We are located on Road 21 and Road 21 1/2. Our wine is also at BevMo, Save Mart, Von’s and Total Wine.

Wonderful Agricultural Management
Contact: Wayne Koligian, director of grower relations

Featuring: We are showing people our product and highlighting it. We tell people we manage and develop the land that goes from the farmer to the grocery store shelves.

What has been the response: They really like what we’ve shown. I brought 20 cases of pomegranate juice and it’s already gone. I brought 10 cases of Fiji water and it’s gone. I brought 18 cases of Wonderful Almonds and it’s already gone. We own a total of 30 businesses.

Riley’s Brew
Contact: Dan Riley, owner

Featuring: We’re showing off our Sancha, Cougar, Catching up IPA, California Mike Stout, two seasonals — mango sancha and Hammered. We have our gin, vodka, hard root beer, hard vanilla, hard orange and hard ginger. That’s all we brought.

What has been the response: Very good. People are enjoying it. It’s a win-win. People like it.

Where can people buy your product: We’re in Food Maxx and Save mart. We have our Riley’s Brew Pub on Temperance and Alluvial.

Rosenthal Olive Ranch
Contact: Kevin Rosenthal, owner.

Featuring: We’re showing off all of our flavored olive oils, our extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegar.

What has been the response: We’ve gotten an overwhelming response over everything, especially our garlic olive oil.

Where can people buy your product: We are at The Market at Herndon and West, Sumner Peck Fruit Stand and they also use it exclusively at The Vineyard Restaurant and our ranch, Avenue 9 between Road 29 and 29 1/2.

San Joaquin Wine Company

Featuring: All of the wines available.

Sierra Valley Almonds
Contact: Kurt Friedenbach, sales and marketing

Featuring: We are featuring our new blanche line and flour. Blanche is where you take the almonds and take the skins off. They use it for confectionery.

What has been the response: We mainly serve the industry rather than retail. Today is mainly about some buyers that come into Fresno.

ENZO Olive Oil Company
Contact: Vincent Ricchuiti, co-owner

Featuring: We’re featuring our entire line.

What has been the response: The Fresno Chili Crush really wows everyone. It’s really versatile. It may be the only Fresno chili olive oil made.

Where can people buy your product: We have our own store in Clovis (Shepherd and Willow), Save Mart, Von’s, Sierra Nut House, Sam’s Deli and a lot of places.

Barnett Meats
Contact: Jason Barnett, owner

Featuring: Our seasoned tri-tips that are in the grocery store, as well as our deli and grocery store in Oakhurst. We did 2,000 samples last year. It went great. We were way too busy to do it this week.

What has been the response: We had them hooked and sold it. Now they are furious. The problem was getting down here for the show. We’ve been so busy, it’s ridiculous.

Where can people buy your product: Two Von’s in Clovis, two Von’s in Fresno, Pack-N-Save in Madera, Von’s in Oakhurst as well as our deli in Oakhurst.

Faraday Future leases central California factory in attempt to keep its electric car dreams alive

www.theverge.com
by

Just last month, Faraday Future scrubbed its ambitious plans for a $1 billion megafactory in Nevada. Now, the electric vehicle startup has found a new location for the production of its car of the future: a 55-year-old former Pirelli factory in Hanford, California, which has been mostly empty since 2001.

The property, now known as Hanford Business Park, is about 200 miles north of FF’s Los Angeles headquarters. It’s owned by a US-based real estate development and investment firm called Industrial Realty Group. The Verge first learned of the factory after speaking to a source with knowledge of the situation. A representative for FF confirmed that the company will be moving into the park when the terms of the lease begin in early 2018.

A lack of funding helped doom FF’s project in Nevada, and things have only been getting worse at LeEco, the Chinese conglomerate that was FF’s biggest investor. LeEco recently laid off the majority of its US workforce, and FF officially canceled its plans in Nevada one week after a Chinese court froze $182 million of LeEco chairman Jia Yueting’s assets. This all came after FF suffered a rash of executive departures and money troubles at the end of 2016.

But FF recently obtained a $14 million “rescue loan,” according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, and that was apparently enough to cover part of the lease for this new factory. Faraday reportedly agreed to borrow that $14 million from a New York investment firm after offering its LA headquarters as collateral.

Photos posted to Instagram by Nick Sampson, the company’s senior vice president of R&D, show that the company held an event at the factory yesterday to begin the process of getting the building ready for the move in. Hanford city officials were on site at the event, and FF hopes to bring 1,300 jobs to the area, according to a local news report. But the location of the factory was not disclosed. Business Insiderpreviously reported that FF was “close to securing a substitute manufacturing site in California.”

Hanford Business Park is about the same size as the 1-million-square-foot factory Faraday Future was planning to build in Nevada, but only about 700,000 to 800,000 square feet are available to lease, according to documentation on IRG’s website. Still, it should solve one of the biggest challenges FF faced in Nevada: the fact that the company was literally trying to build a brand-new factory from the ground up.

IRG and previous landowners Colliers International and STG Group have leased sections of Hanford Business Park to small businesses since Pirelli ceased operations in 2001, according to numerous local news reports. But it’s unclear whether there are any parts of the property that are presently occupied, or what this new deal means for them. The factory was most recently the target of an Oakland-based medical marijuana company called Purple Heart Patient Center, but that proposal died in March when the company ran into resistance from local officials. The Vergereached out to multiple representatives at IRG but did not get a response before this story was published.

Nemat Inc. Unveiling Solar System for Industrial Application

by Bobby Kahn
July 14th

Madera, California

NematInc. is unveiling a 150 KW-DC solar system at their headquarters facility in Madera, CA. Owner Mike Nematwill also be celebrating the Grand Opening of his new company, Lean Solar. Lean Solar is a developer, manufacturer, and installer of “turnkey” high quality modular ground-mount solar systems for industrial applications. Nemat says his solar system is 30% less than market price and will save customers up to 70% of their energy costs. The system is an ownership program. Nemat is also considering offering financing programs with a 5-6 year purchase option. The down payment can be covered by a 30% tax credit offered by the federal government.

Lean Solar manages the entire project including; concept design, system design, municipalities permit process, manufacturing, installation, and interconnection with utility companies. The entire project is implemented in 45-60 days. This is achieved through their modular design and manufacturing, as well as pre-assembled installation. The system is designed and made in the USA and has a 20 year warranty.

The new venture will expand their operations in Madera and double their employment of 35.

A new industry is beginning to thrive in rural America, with Amazon leading the way

By Paayal Zaveri | Aditi Roy
CNCB

The city of Tracy, California, is flanked by clusters of warehouses on its east and west sides. The names on the buildings are familiar: Amazon, Costco, FedEx, Safeway, Crate and Barrel and others.

Located in California’s Central Valley, Tracy’s proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area has turned it into a prime spot for distribution hubs, and it’s not alone.

With the boom in e-commerce and online shopping, companies have flocked to areas like the Central Valley, the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, central New Jersey and Dallas, Texas, to build their distribution and fulfillment centers. All these regions are close to major metropolitan areas and major roadways. For the residents of these regions, it means new job opportunities as an entire industry around e-commerce takes shape.

Tracy Mayor Robert Rickman said the benefits of this boom are widespread.

“The people who come to our jobs here in Tracy are not just from Tracy, but all throughout the region, and it increases our daytime population and in turn attracts other businesses here – restaurants, retail and commercial,” Rickman said. “It’s a trickling effect.”

Tracy is close to major highways, the Port of Oakland and a nearby airport, making it an ideal location for e-commerce facilities, Rickman said. “The distribution centers and fulfillment centers can ship their goods pretty much anywhere from here in a very short amount of time.”

Over the last five years, fulfillment and distribution centers have created about 10,000 new jobs in San Joaquin County, according to research from Dr. Jeffrey Michael at the University of the Pacific’s Center for Business and Policy Research. In the past, agriculture and food manufacturing were Tracy’s main industries.

City officials expect the growth in fulfillment jobs to continue, largely led by Amazon.

Amazon’s plan to create 100,000 new jobs over the next year has a tangible impact in Tracy; a second Amazon fulfillment center is currently under construction. The existing facility is the largest in California and also runs a management training program, creating some management level positions.

These new centers are much different than traditional warehouses, and require much more manpower, said Richard H. Thompson of JLL, a commercial real estate firm. Jobs here often offer better pay and require more technical skills than more traditional jobs in warehousing and distribution since more precision is needed to meet customers’ orders versus large bulk orders.

An Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, California

An Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, California

Don Cunningham, the President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, says average pay for a fulfillment job in cities in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley is about $15 per hour, much higher than retail or fast food jobs in the region. “This new industry requires a lot of labor right now,” he said.

The economic benefits are pouring into the cities as well. In Tracy, sales tax revenues went up 35 percent, helping the city build parks and improve infrastructure. Large warehouses like Amazon and Walmart also generate a lot of property tax revenue for the cities they’re located in, said John Boyd of The Boyd Company.

Tracy’s not alone. Fresno, another city in the Central Valley of California, has gotten more requests from companies wanting to set up facilities in the last two years than over the past 10 years combined, according to Lee Ann Eager from the Fresno Economic Development Corporation.

“It’s putting thousands of people to work who are either unemployed or underemployed,” she said. “It’s essentially a new industry for people in this region.”

Ruiz Foods expansion, Best Buy deal among good news for Dinuba

published on June 23, 2017
Written by David Castellon

The summer is starting well for Dinuba’s economy, as the city has attracted a large printing and direct-mail business, will see Ruiz Foods expand and inked a new sales tax-sharing deal with its Best Buy Co. distribution center.

Under that 45-year deal, the city’s portion of the electronic giant’s online sales fulfilled from its West Coast distribution center in Dinuba will increase from about $5 million annually to $8 million.

“Sales tax makes up 41 percent of the city’s General Fund revenues. Now a new deal stabilizes the amount and grows it as online sales grow. Above a certain amount the city and Best Buy share sales tax 50-50,” City Manager Luis Patlan states in a press release.

The release doesn’t offer a more detailed explanation of the deal.

“An $8 million nugget every year should make a big impact in a town that as recently as 2014 had sales tax revenue of only $3.3 million from all sources,” the press release continues.

Best Buy has reported that its first-quarter e-commerce sales for 2017 were up by a dramatic 22.5 percent compared to the first three months of last year.

E-commerce comprises about 13 percent of Best Buy’s domestic sales.

In other good news for the city, Woodside Homes is developing new homes on 107 parcels at the planned Ridge Creek Ranch subdivision, near Ridge Creek Golf Club.

Model homes are scheduled to open in July.

In addition, the former Kmart department store at in the 2000 block of East El Monte Way is being remodeled for a new tenant, a Fitness Evolution gym, Dinuba officials report.

http://thebusinessjournal.com/ruiz-foods-expansion-best-buy-deal-among-good-news-dinuba/