Economic event in Merced turned spotlight on San Joaquin Valley’s land, people and opportunity

Economic event in Merced turned spotlight on San Joaquin Valley’s land, people and opportunity

10/08/2019  by Ed Coghlan

The University of California, Merced was a fitting venue for the Regions Rise Together meeting in the north San Joaquin Valley last week. UC Merced, the youngest of the UC campuses, is the first American research university of the 21st century. Its research agenda on issues of agriculture, water supply and sustainability, forest resiliency and ag tech mirrors the future of the region and the state.

It also is a university of the future in terms of whom it is educating, as interim Chancellor Nathan Brostrom told the gathering of leaders from the region, with first generation college students making up 70% of the 8,200 undergraduate student population.

Regions Rise Together is led by GO-Biz and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) in partnership with CA Fwd and the California Stewardship Network. The Merced event was the fourth of five joint strategy sessions held in inland California to gather input from local stakeholders to understand the challenges that face the inland regions as well as what can be utilized for future economic growth.

“The event offered unique opportunities to inventory the incredible assets of the Valley that both defined our strengths and opportunities and fostered in me a greater sense of how all of us can collaborate together to support rising up our region,” said West Hills Community College Chancellor Stuart Van Horn. “I was delighted to integrate higher education perspectives among and between the various workgroups and sessions.”

In addition to education, the region’s transportation, housing, workforce development, water and air quality and economic development were discussed.

“Again we heard the diverse voices from different sectors and different parts of the San Joaquin Valley coming together to talk about the future of the region that they want to see,” said Lenny Mendonca, the chief economic and business advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). For Mendonca, a proud native of nearby Turlock, this meeting was more than symbolic.

“We understand the underdog feeling of inland California,” said Mendonca. “Regions Rise Together is trying to change the mental map of California so there’s more economic balance across the regions.”

Assemblymember Adam Gray thanked Governor Newsom for attention paid to inland California and said it’s time to take advantage of the opportunity and attention that the Governor is giving the region—pointing out that the Valley has land, space, opportunity and the people to accelerate and sustain economic growth in the region.

Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen echoed the sentiment and said there is “historical cynicism” in the San Joaquin Valley of how the region is treated by the state, pointing that SB 1 was passed with great fanfare but included no money for Highway 99, which connects some many cities in the region.

Olsen also pointed out the region needs to be more insistent on adequate representation on State boards and commissions.

The interconnectivity of the state is felt in the northern San Joaquin Valley, where thousands of people commute to the Bay Area because they can’t afford to live there. Better transit is one answer, while many pointed out more companies could be located in the Valley where costs are lower and workers are plentiful.

Previous meetings up and down inland California have resulted in common theme. While much of coastal California sees inland California a certain way—inland California is not all the same. The differences noted in the three meetings held in the Inland Empire, Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley, and Merced show that each are distinct economies with distinct opportunities and challenges.

“The state is so complicated with so many different economies, it requires a sharp focus to make sure every region in included,” said California Forward CEO Micah Weinberg. “The Governor is committed to outlining a set of proposals and thoughts to make sure every part of California is heard in how we build a vibrant, inclusive, sustainable and resilient economy.”

The Governor will announce proposals for inland California at the 2019 California Economic Summit in Fresno on November 7-8.

CA Fwd noted that the success of the Merced event was due in great part from help from a number of local and regional partners including Andy Cheasey, San Joaquin Council of Governments; Cori Lucero, UC Merced; Dan Leavitt, San Joaquin Valley Power Authority; Frank Quintero and Stephanie Dietz of the city of Merced; Mariann Kaanon of Stanislaus Community Foundation; Moses Zapien, Community Foundation of San Joaquin and Steve Lantzberger of the Economic Development Association of San Joaquin County.

https://cafwd.org/reporting/entry-new/economic-event-in-merced-turned-spotlight-on-san-joaquin-valleys-land-peopl

WE’RE BACK, BABY! FRESNO TOP AG COUNTY ONCE AGAIN

Workers sort navel oranges earlier this year at Kings River Packing, northeast of Sanger. Photo by David Castellon.

Published On October 8, 2019 – 11:23 AM
Written By David Castellon

For the first time since 2013, Fresno County is the top agricultural county in California and the U.S.

This news comes with the Tuesday morning release of the 2018 Tulare County crop and livestock report, which shows sales of agricultural goods produced there last year totaled more than $7.21 billion, a 2.5% increase from ag sales in 2017.

In 2017, Kern County was the top ag county based on sales, followed by Tulare and Fresno counties, respectively.

But based on this latest crop report and those previously released, Fresno County shot up in the rankings to the top spot, with 2018 gross ag sales totaling more than $7.88 billion, followed by more than $7.46 billion in sales by Kern County farmers, ranchers, apiarists and others.

Although the data on 2018 ag sales isn’t in for all California counties and those in the rest of country, Fresno, Tulare and Kern have far and away been the top ag-producing counties in the nation in terms of ag sales.

For years, Fresno held on solidly to the first-place spot until Tulare County knocked it off that spot in 2014. After that, the top ag county title was held annually by either Tulare or Kern counties.

A big part of the reason for Fresno County falling short of the No. 1 ranking those years was due to California’s five-year drought that began in late 2011— the worst in the state’s recorded history — causing major water shortages in the western end of Fresno County that forced farmers there to limit their farming or let fields go fallow.

Weather and water conditions have since improved in the region.

As for the other South Valley counties, ag sales in Kings County totaled more than $2.35 billion last year and $2.05 billion in Madera County.

Those two counties ranked ninth and eleventh, respectively, among California’s ag counties in 2017.

It wasn’t immediately clear how they ranked statewide or nationally in 2018, as those tallies will not be compiled and disclosed until next year.

Madera, Kings and the other three South Valley counties all saw their ag sales totals increase last year.

For Tulare County, long the top dairy county in the U.S., it’s no surprise milk was the top-selling ag commodity in 2018, with sales totaling more than $1.68 billion. But that was down more than 5% — $93.1 million — from 2017 sales.

The report shows that the price of milk purchased from dairies declined from about $16.39 per hundredweight — 100 pounds — in 2017 by about a dollar in 2018, which reduced the total income dairies in the county received for their milk, even though production was up slightly.

It goes on to say that poultry and livestock values among Tulare County sales also declined slightly in 2018.

Sales of field crops rose nearly 9% from 2017 to 2018, which the county’s agricultural commissioner and his staff attributed to higher prices paid for them, while the 5.7% rise in sales of fruits and nuts is at least partially attributed to farmers expanding their production acreage of blueberries, pomegranates and tangerines.

Sales of ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as nursery-raised products, experienced even more vigorous growth over the same period of 47% and 34.7%, respectively, while sales of vegetable crops declined nearly 16% to $17. 2 million.

Part of the reason for the latter drop was due to farmers harvesting 931 fewer acres of vegetables last year compared to 2017, according to the crop report.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/were-back-baby-fresno-top-ag-county-once-again/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=bfd5b60568-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_08_08_31&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-bfd5b60568-78934409&mc_cid=bfd5b60568&mc_eid=a126ded657

How a massive Amazon wind farm promises to change a tiny town in rural America

KEY POINTS
  • Amazon announced three new wind farm projects in April 2019 as part of their goal to become net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
  • Large wind and solar farms create economic booms for rural communities.
  • Even after an initial construction boom, there is room for business growth.
H-O_WindPowerinTehachapi
The Tehachapi Mountain Range is home to around 4,731 wind turbines that generate about 3,200 megawatts of energy.
City of Tehachapi

Buried in the mountains of southern California lies a field of white. It’s not your typical farm: It produces renewable energy. The Tehachapi Pass is home to one of the largest wind farms in the world. Now a huge tech company is bringing more turbines to the area, and it is going to have an impact on a nearby community.

In April, Amazon announced three new wind farm projects — two overseas, and one in the Tehachapi (teh-HATCH-ah-pee) Mountains, located in southern California. The farms will help contribute to Amazon’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and 100% renewables by 2030.

The mountain range is a hub for the wind industry, with around 4,731 turbines that produce about 3,200 megawatts of electricity along the mountain range, according to the Center for Land Use Interpretation, with private companies flocking to the area because of the high wind speeds. Farther north is the Altamont Pass wind farm, which helps power another tech giant: Alphabet’s Google.

Located just northeast of the mountain range is the town of Tehachapi. With a population of about 12,000, Tehachapi Mayor Pro-Tem Phil Smith called it a nice little mountain town, and while the power being produced from wind only comes to the town indirectly through the grid, Tehachapi gets something else directly as a result of the big renewable energy investments.

“The good news for us is obviously we have the economic impact,” said Tehachapi economic development coordinator Corey Costelloe.

Outside contractors come in to work on the wind turbines, staying in the town’s hotels and eating at its restaurants, like Kohnen’s Country Bakery, one of the town’s more popular local eateries. Family owned by Colleen and Thomas Kohnen, the bakery has been around since 2004. Colleen says the bakery is growing, but it’s hard to tell how much of that is because of the wind industry. Though she says that she does get customers who come from out of the city to work on the windmills.

“I had one guy come in last week, and I guess he was staying in a hotel during the week or something,” Khonen said. “And his wife and daughter came up to visit him. That just introduces people (to the bakery).”

Stephen Abbott, city renewables accelerator manager at Rocky Mountain Institute, says that small businesses seeing an increase in revenue is part of the initial economic boom that follows a renewable energy farm.

Keeping jobs local

According to estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the construction of a 47 megawatt (the size of Amazon’s new farm) renewable energy farm could produce around 50 new jobs.

One company wants to keep those jobs in Tehachapi.

World Wind and Solar is a renewable energy maintenance company that moved its headquarters to Tehachapi in 2019.

WWS CEO Buddy Cummings has deep ties to Tehachapi. His father, Steve Cummings, installed some of the first wind turbines in the town. Cummings feels moving the company to Tehachapi is a homecoming of sorts.

“The relationships that got us into the renewables market are the relationships we grew up with,” Cummings said. “Tehachapi just feels like home.”

WWS has a goal of keeping their work local. Cummings says that he tries to hire Tehachapi residents, and use word of mouth marketing.

“We grow by people telling their friends and family,” Cummings said.

The company, which started in wind but has diversified into solar, requires workers to do general labor maintaining solar panels — cleaning and upkeep. The company hires workers to do that work for 60 to 90 days, and if they perform well, the company brings them back to Tehachapi for two to three weeks of training, teaching them how to do more technical maintenance on wind turbines and solar arrays. After the training they can become full-time technicians.

“It’s a quick and healthy way to get people work,” Cummings said. “It has such an opportunity to grow a career so fast.”

The workers coming in to train are spending their dollars at local businesses, like Kohnen’s Bakery, which cited the World Wind and Solar training period as a profitable time because the renewable energy company recommends it to trainees.

“The wind farms have generated quite a number of very good technical, good-paying jobs that can sustain a family and the employers have benefits,” Mayor Pro-Tem Smith said. “So the people in the workforce can look forward to actually a career in the industry if they want, and the pay is good enough where they can afford a home and stay here.”

Wind turbine technicians are making just over $54,000 a year ($26.14 per hour), according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. It forecast employment growth of 57% for wind turbine technicians from 2018 to 2028. In 2018, there were 6,600 wind turbine technician jobs in the U.S., according to BLS data.

api isn’t the only area that has seen an economic updraft from the wind industry.

Benton County, Indiana (pop. 8,700) has multiple wind projects developed over the past decade, one operated by Pattern Energy which supports electricity needs for an Amazon Web Services data center. The AWS farm, its first major renewables project, went into operation in early 2016, and Paul Jackson, director of economic development for Benton County says the area has seen gradual growth after big, initial booms from its wind farm projects.

“Everything kind of flattens out,” Jackson said. “The big boom is over, and you get into the reality of it.”

The Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge project is expected to make $5 million in economic development payments to Benton County over a period of 17 years. The project is entitled to 100% property tax abatements for a 10-year period, after which property tax revenue for the county will start being generated as well.

“Once wind farms came off of abatement, we are getting tax dollars. The tax money is fantastic,” Jackson said.

Between 2008 and 2018, taxes on Benton County wind farms have permitted the county to allocate an additional $3 million to schools, additional money to medical services, $35 million to new roads — upgraded roads were required to transport giant wind turbines to sites — and a total of $31 million in economic development payments to be made to the county through 2038.

A September article from the Wall Street Journal highlighted that farmers in the U.S. are leasing land out for renewable energy farms to help themselves in a difficult financial time.

“I think one thing we shouldn’t lose sight of is that a lot of farmers in the middle of the country are relatively strapped economically,” Abbott said. “Wind or solar can be a really useful additional revenue stream for people and those communities, particularly if it helps them get through a particular commodity down cycle.”

Facebook’s solar power projects

Big corporations want to build on cheaper land in rural areas and that, in turn, can help these rural economies from regressing to the mean by attracting follow-up projects.

Los Lunas, New Mexico is a good example.

The village has a population of roughly 15,000 people, and will soon be home to a Facebook data center, as well as solar farms to power it. The solar farm was an additional project that will help Facebook reach its goal of making the data center 100% renewable. Data center’s like this one and Amazon’s in Benton County are energy-intensive operations.

Both Las Lunas projects are in the construction phase, and are slated to be finished in 2023. Los Lunas economic development manager Ralph Mims says that the construction has helped workers, who previously had to work out of state, find jobs in the area. Much like Tehachapi, the village has seen a similar economic impact from big tech coming in.

“Since Facebook announced, we’ve got an uptick in our retail footprint,” Mims said. “We’ve had new restaurants come in, we have a third McDonald’s.”

Los Lunas also has several new housing projects that are in the works, but Mims believes that is because of natural growth, not only because of Facebook.

“Facebook of course has helped, but I would say that it’s a natural occurrence.” Mims said. “People want to live in a smaller town, taxes are cheaper down here, housing is super close to Albuquerque, we are about 10-15 minutes from the airport.”

Mims said that other companies currently operating under “code names” have inquired about land in the area, citing low costs and favorable weather conditions as reasons for likely future projects.

Abbott said there is little if any economic downside for smaller communities, like Tehachapi and Benton County, getting into the renewable energy business.

“Wind and solar provide a really important additional value and way to maintain the communities that are struggling in rural America, and have the potential to bring technical jobs and new sources of revenue and income to help support these communities during the energy transition.

 

Pistachio production, revenues on the rise in Kern

 

BY JOHN COX

If pistachios were a football team — and sometimes it does seem like they compete against almonds — they would be climbing the tree-nut power rankings.

Due partly to an exceptional 2018 harvest, pistachios surged two places last year to seize the No. 3 spot in Kern’s ranking of top-grossing crops. They came in just behind almonds and table grapes, the county’s sales leader.

The recent growth is phenomenal for a nut that has been cultivated in the Central Valley since the late 1960s. Kern growers’ pistachio sales jumped 91 percent between 2017 and 2018 to reach $1.06 billion, which according to county reports is more than five times their total a decade earlier.

It’s important to note almonds still lead pistachios locally in gross receipts for reasons that include global consumer trends and investors’ preference for a quicker return on their money. But county records show that while land dedicated to almonds in Kern has grown 70 percent during about the past 10 years to reach 234,670 acres, pistachio acreage is up 172 percent at 141,000 acres.

ALMONDS OR PISTACHIOS?

Behind these numbers is an agricultural community divided over the relative benefits and drawbacks of almonds and pistachios. Few local farmers grow both tree nuts, with the big exception of the region’s largest grower, Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Co. As such, discussions on the merits of growing pistachios usually involve a comparison with almonds.

The biggest differences between growing one or the other is crop heartiness and time to recovering initial investment. Pistachios have much longer productive lives, they can go extended periods without irrigation and are able to make nuts even in areas with low-quality soil and water.

On the other hand, almonds start producing a crop in just about three years — about half the time pistachios require. Not all investors have the means to hold out that long.

“You’ve got a long time when you’re pouring money in and you don’t get much out,” said Newfield Ag Management owner Josh Newfield, who tends to pistachio groves in the McFarland area.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Patient growers, however, are generally rewarded with a larger return on their long-term investment, according to analysts with Rabo Agrifinance.

Roland Fumasi, senior fruit, vegetable and tree nut analyst at the company, said pistachios’ gross returns per acre have historically been higher than those of almonds. What’s more, pistachio prices have tended to be more stable.

Although pistachio prices fluctuate more frequently, he said, they do so within a smaller range than almond prices.

‘A GREATER FIT’

Longtime pistachio man Carl Fanucchi, who has in the past grown almonds as well as citrus, said local conditions seem to favor pistachios. They can endure droughts easier, they don’t seem to mind relatively salty water — no small consideration as the state cracks down on the overuse of local groundwater — and their root systems are strong enough to withstand winds that frequently topple almond trees.

“Pistachios are just a greater fit down here,” said Fanucchi, an adviser and former orchard owner who at age 78 has worked locally with pistachios for almost 50 years.

Famoso-area pistachio grower Buck Klein said he, too, used to grow almonds and understands the cash-flow pressure that persuades some investors to grow almonds. But whereas almonds usually live no longer than maybe 20, 25 years, pistachios planted in the late 1960s are still producing nuts.

“My grandkids, great-grandkids will probably be taking care of stuff that I’ve planted,” he said.

WEATHER VULNERABILITY

Changing weather patterns could pose a problem, however.

There have been two disastrous years for pistachio growers in recent memory, in 2003 and 2015. The last time it was because an unusually warm winter threw male and female trees out of sync, leading to the production of a very large number of worthless, “blank” nuts.

The United States’ recent trade wars haven’t helped, either, even as tariffs on U.S. exports have been somewhat easier on pistachios. While China has levied tariffs on almonds and pistachios, India has spared pistachios while charging tariffs on almonds.

IRANIAN COMPETITION

Another challenge on the horizon may be Iran.

The United States is by far the world’s largest producer of almonds. But in the pistachio world, Iran has often challenged the U.S. lead in global production.

There is some concern in California, where almost all domestic pistachio production takes place, that Iran could bounce back from a bad year in 2018. If such a recovery happens, Iran could undercut the United States by selling pistachios to China and India at lower price, said Richard Matoian, executive director of American Pistachio Growers, a Fresno-based trade group.

Still, trading partners like the European Union appreciate U.S. pistachios’ reputation for higher quality and greater consistency, he said.

“For the discerning buyer, it makes a difference,” Matoian said.

HEALTHY CROP

Matoian said this year’s crop is looking good, though not quite as last year’s record-breaking crop, which measured more than 800 million pounds statewide.

This year’s crop will be smaller, he predicted, in part because pistachios alternate between heavy and not-so-heavy years. But things generally look up: Insect damage has been minimal and cool weather conditions have been helpful, he added.

Fanucchi said the bottom line is that pistachios simply perform well for investors, which he noted have included insurance companies and pensions that look for dependable places to put their money for the long term.

“It’s a very interesting tree,” he said. “It’s made a lot of people a lot of money.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/pistachio-production-revenues-on-the-rise-in-kern/article_e998dfa6-ec6a-11e9-9786-bf4461849821.html

Kernville, Bakersfield breweries combine for five medals at nation’s top beer festival

A pair of Kern breweries took home an extraordinary five medals at the Great American Beer Festival last weekend in Denver — a testament, the local winners say, to the county’s sophisticated approach to beer-making.

Kernville’s Kern River Brewing Co. took home two golds and two silvers, as well as the Brewery Group of the Year honor, while Temblor Brewing Co. in Bakersfield won bronze.

“I’m still trying to absorb all this,” said Eric Giddens, who owns KRBC with his wife, Rebecca. The couple had only just arrived home Monday after driving home from Denver.

At an event billed as the most prestigious beer competition in the world, the Brewers Association awarded 318 medals to 283 breweries across the United States. Some whole states didn’t win as many medals as Kern breweries did.

KRBC’s Belgian-style blonde, Nènette, won gold, as did the brewery’s session India pale ale, Gravity Check. Its brown porter, called Brown Claw, and its double hoppy red ale, Side Hike, won silver.

Temblor’s Belgian-style wit, Under a Blood Orange Sky, won a bronze medal.

Temblor’s head brewer, Mike Lahti, said the honor felt good.

“I’ve been doing this 16 years and this is the first (Great American Beer Festival award) for a beer I’ve designed,” he said. “One of those things that every brewer wants to do is get a medal at GABF.”

Lahti added that Kern’s strong showing speaks to the county’s emerging national reputation.

“I think it shows that, obviously, competition amongst ourselves has all helped us challenge ourselves to make better beer, to keep up with the competition,” he said.

Giddens said he and others representing KRBC celebrated the announcement of Temblor’s win as they were picking up their own medals.

“I think (Kern’s combined total of five medals) shows that the beer landscape in Kern County is changing,” he said. “I think people in Kern County are going to start taking notice and enjoying that beer.”

Though dwarfed by the brewing mecca of San Diego County, which won 18 of the 68 medals awarded to the Golden State in this year’s GABF, Kern’s brewing community has come a long way in the last several years. There are now five independent breweries in Bakersfield alone, with another on the way.

In all, the competition judged 9,497 beers from 2,295 breweries.

No brewery company won more medals at this year’s GABF than KRBC, which launched in 2005 and expanded in 2016 to a second location next door.

“What blows me away is that this was the largest beer competition in the world to date,” Giddens said. “For a small brewery in a mountain town in Kern County to come away as the most decorated brewery in the bunch just split my mind.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/kernville-bakersfield-breweries-combine-for-five-medals-at-nation-s/article_7034b2a6-e923-11e9-a43a-c3fa4dc75ca8.html

VOLT and MJC programs get $1 million grant. It could mean higher-paying jobs for area

 

Almost $1 million in federal grant funds will boost occupational training at the VOLT Institute and Modesto Junior College.

The Economic Development Administration approved the $980,750 grant for Opportunity Stanislaus, whose mission is improving economic vitality in Stanislaus County.

The grant money will purchase cutting-edge equipment used in training programs at the VOLT center and MJC.

The VOLT Institute on 13th Street trains young adults to work as maintenance mechanics in local industries and has a career accelerator program. The trade school was created through a partnership between Opportunity Stanislaus and the county Office of Education.

“The feedback we keep getting from employers is that our program is solid but that having equipment in the classroom similar to the machines students will be using in the field after graduation is essential to their success,” said David White, chief executive officer of Opportunity Stanislaus, in a news release.

MJC also is adding training equipment for its career technical education programs that partner with high schools.

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, managed to get $1 million for the local training programs in last year’s state budget, and that money served as a match that’s required for the EDA grant. The Economic Development Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, urged the EDA to approve the application for building a skilled work force in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The agency’s competitive grant process has resulted in only one other grant award for the region: $140,000 awarded to Riverbank in 2010.

Warren Kirk, chief executive officer of Doctors Medical Center, said in the news release that the federal grant is “a great example of what our region can accomplish when we work together in support of economic development.”

Tesla’s Semi, solar and battery storage to help Frito Lay cut emissions at CA plant

American snack company Frito Lay has announced that they will make its Modesto, California distribution plant eco-friendly in an attempt to significantly decrease the amount of carbon-emissions the company is producing during its day-to-day operations. The snack-maker will utilize a number of companies to complete the operation, including Tesla.

“We are going to replace 75 pieces of distribution equipment with zero, or near-zero, emissions new equipment across forklifts, tractors, yard tractors within our Modesto operation,” Vice President of Supply Chain for PepsiCo. Michael O’Connell stated in an interview with The Modesto Bee. Frito Lay is a subsidiary of PepsiCo.

Frito Lay has already put down a deposit on 100 Tesla Semi units, 15 of which will be deployed to the Modesto site. The company placed these deposits down on the Silicon Valley-based manufacturer’s new Semi when it was unveiled on November 16, 2017.

The new plan that will cut emissions significantly will be funded by a $15.4 million grant from the California Air Resources Board, also known as CARB. Along with the grant, Frito Lay is investing $13.5 million of its own money, as well as $1.8 million from American Natural Gas. The combined total of the project is $30.8 million.

https://www.teslarati.com/teslas-semi-solar-megapack-frito-lay-modesto-plant/

Gap is bringing 600 jobs to the Fresno area

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Gap Incorporated is set to begin hiring for the 2019 holiday season which will bring more than 600 jobs to the Fresno area.

The company has announced its plans to hire employees for a range of seasonal opportunities including sales associate positions, customer relations representatives and shipment coordinators at distribution centers.

It is hosting a one-day hiring event Saturday, October 5, at all Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and other Gap incorporated locations across the United States from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Most contingency offers will be made immediately after interviewing at the hiring event.

All seasonal associates will also enjoy the same merchandise discount as the company’s current associates, just in time for holiday gift-giving.

TWO VALLEY FARMING GIANTS ANNOUNCE COMPLETED MERGER

Gerawan Farms stonefruit is marketed under the Prima brand.

Published On September 25, 2019 – 1:50 PM
Written By The Business Journal Staff

Gerawan Farming and Wawona Packing Co. announced Wednesday that the farming giants have completed a merger.

CEO Dan Gerawan, who is also the largest individual shareholder, will helm the combined company. Brent Smittcamp, current executive chairman of Cutler-based Wawona, “will also remain a significant shareholder and continue to be highly involved with the combined company,” according to a news release.

Paine Schwartz, an existing investor in Wawona, is partnering with both companies to facilitate the transaction, the financial terms of which were not disclosed.

Both companies are third-generation family businesses. Fresno-based Gerawan is a stone fruit farming and packing operation marketed under the Prima brand. Wawona also supplies stone fruit and is a leader in the organic segment of the market, according to the news release.

“At Gerawan, innovating on a large scale to grow, pack and ship the world’s best fruit has been key to our success, and those efforts have always hinged on investing in our employees,” Gerawan said in a statement. “These same values underpin Wawona’s success. This merger is an exciting next step to unlock the full potential of both companies.”

The combined firm’s management team will be comprised of leaders from both companies.

“Over the last several years, we have focused on accelerating Wawona’s growth by building on the inherent strengths of our business and management team. Our acquisition last year of Burchell Nursery Inc. was one example, and now this historic merger with Gerawan takes it to yet another level,” Smittcamp said in a statement. “We are eager to bring the benefits of this merger to our employees, suppliers and customers.”

https://thebusinessjournal.com/two-valley-farming-giants-announce-completed-merger/

uBreakiFix Expands California Footprint With Central Valley Store

 

By: uBreakiFix

Industry-Leading Tech Repair Brand Brings High Quality Electronics Support to Fresno

FRESNO, Calif., Sept. 19, 2019

uBreakiFix services anything with a power button, including smartphones, game consoles, tablets, computers, drones, hoverboards, and everything in between. To date, uBreakiFix has completed more than 5 million repairs. While common fixes include cracked screens, software issues, and camera issues, the brand offers support for most technical problems on any electronic device, regardless of make or model.

Through strategic partnerships with leading technology companies, including Samsung and Google, uBreakiFix provides Samsung Galaxy customers and Google Pixel and Pixelbook customers with manufacturer-backed, same-day repair services using genuine parts. Through the partnership with Samsung, Galaxy owners can get in and out-of-warranty repairs at more than 350 locations nationwide, with most repairs completed in two hours or less.

uBreakiFix Fresno is the first location for owners Ryan McDaniel and Kali Mey. They have plans to another store in Clovis in the near future.

“I truly believe that uBreakiFix is the best tech repair company in the world, and we were thrilled to open the first location of this franchise in the central valley,” said McDaniel. “My business partner, Kali, and I were born and raised in this community. We feel so fortunate to give back by offering high-quality, affordable device repair to the people of Fresno.”

uBreakiFix was founded in 2009 by millennial duo Justin Wetherill and David Reiff, who later partnered with Eddie Trujillo to transition their Internet-based brand to a brick and mortar model. By offering convenience, accessibility, and unparalleled customer service, uBreakiFix filled a gap in the repair marketplace and has since emerged as an industry leader in growth, service offerings, and authorized partnerships. In 2018, Wetherill was inducted into the Forbes Technology Council, and uBreakiFix earned a top spot on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500® list, ranking #18 overall, #1 in the Electronics Repair category, and #1 on the Top New Franchises list.

uBreakiFix has nearly 500 locations open across the U.S. and Canada. The brand opened nearly 130 new stores in 2018 and plans to increase growth in 2019. For more information on uBreakiFix franchising, visit http://ubreakifix.com/franchising.

“At uBreakiFix, our goal is to take the hassle of a broken device and create the most positive, convenient experience possible for our customers,” Wetherill said. “We are a customer service company first, and a tech repair company second. As we expand into Fresno, we look forward to becoming the trusted resource to keep consumers and businesses connected to the things and people who matter most.”

uBreakiFix Fresno is located at 7029 North Ingram Ave., Suite 101 Fresno, CA 93650 and can be reached at: 559-930-8243. For more information and to view a service menu, visit https://ubreakifix.com/locations/fresno.

About uBreakiFix

Founded in 2009, uBreakiFix specializes in the repair of small electronics, ranging from smartphones, game consoles, tablets, computers, and everything in between. Cracked screens, software issues, camera issues, and most other problems can be repaired by visiting uBreakiFix stores across the U.S. and Canada. Since 2016, uBreakiFix has served as the exclusive walk-in repair partner for Google Pixel customers. In 2017, uBreakiFix expanded the partnership to include exclusive after sales support for Google Pixelbook customers. In 2018, uBreakiFix became a Samsung Care authorized service provider offering same-day, in-person support for Samsung Galaxy customers across the U.S. In 2018, uBreakiFix also ranked #18 on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500®, #1 in the Electronics Repair category, and #1 on the Top New Franchises list. For more information, visit https://www.ubreakifix.com.