CCVEDC Gains State Funding to Market Central California

Fresno – Assemblymembers Rudy Salas and Dr. Joaquin Arambula presented a check for $40,000 to the California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation (CCVEDC) Dec. 20 at their December board meeting in Fresno.  This is the first direct investment in economic development in the Central Valley by the state in some time. The funding will support the eight-county regional economic development efforts.

“I am pleased to play a key role in securing the resources that will allow the valley to attract more businesses and good jobs to our area,” Assemblymember Salas stated. “With this year’s budget supporting increased workforce training and economic development, families across the valley will gain more skills that will help them obtain good paying local jobs. I look forward to seeing the positive impact of CCVEDC.”

“Assemblymember Salas really championed this investment, and his support was critical to the funding being awarded,” stated Lance Lippincott, Vice Chair CCVEDC. “This funding will be utilized to attract new companies on a national and international level to the growing Central Valley economy.”

California Central Valley EDC will use the grant to market the Region and California programs to out-of-state site selectors and businesses through a comprehensive campaign: to include delivery of current data, real estate and programs by web and email; trade show attendance; targeted industry emails and Broker missions.

“I am excited, actually, for where our communities can get to in the next decade,” said Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula. “The only way we will be successful is to continue to work together and to partner like this.”

The program, already initiated, included marketing Central California in Chicago at the Process Expo Trade Show in September. The booth saw more than 1000 visitors and collected over 136 business contacts over the four day show leading to 17 businesses looking to expand their West Coast footprint.

“Process Expo represented a clear opportunity for the CCVEDC to market our region as the go to place to do business in California. Our team painted a very clear picture for industry leaders in the United States and around the globe.” Mark Hendrickson, CCVEDC Chair.

Another component of the program is regional Target Industry Spotlights that are sent to over 3,400 brokers and business leaders throughout the country and internationally. They will highlight Advanced Manufacturing, Food Processing, Logistics and eCommerce, Professional and Business Services, Health and Medical, Energy and Natural Resources. The industry information will also be available on their website:

CCVEDC previously completed a Central California Regional Profile funded by their Workforce partners in the Central California Workforce Collaborative. This was the first regional effort of this kind, benefiting both existing and new business. The profile is available online.

The California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation (CCVEDC) is a regional marketing group whose mission is to promote job creation in the valley, mountain, and desert communities located within Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare. This program supplements the existing efforts of individual agencies throughout the area.

Bitwise Industries Selects Merced as Newest City In Growing Tech Ecosystem

By Sara Sandrik

Tuesday, December 17, 2019 7:46PM

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) — Fresno-based technology hub Bitwise Industries announced on Tuesday it is expanding to the North Valley.

Their building in the heart of downtown Merced at Main and M streets is vacant right now, but it will soon be transformed into the newest Bitwise facility.

Company representatives say this is the perfect location for many different reasons.

“For me, this is really exciting because it just looks like a blank canvas, and I can’t wait to create on it,” says Bitwise Executive Director of Growth Channelle Charest.

The space is the latest project for Bitwise Industries, which has multiple facilities in Fresno and recently expanded to Bakersfield.

The 6,500 square foot building will be used for the company’s three-prong approach to the world of technology.

It includes the Geekwise Academy, which provides coding classes for people from all backgrounds and Shift3, which cultivates local talent to develop custom software.

“Then there’s a component of play so actually building exciting spaces for students to come, for people to work in and for the community to experience as a whole,” says Charest.

Charest says Bitwise chose Merced in part because it’s home to a University of California campus and a large population of first-generation college students. The company is also excited to be downtown where several major revitalization projects are underway, including the El Capitan Hotel right across the street, and The Tioga apartments just one block away.

“It’s a good fit because you’re mixing old with new so you’re bringing innovation in with the restoration and making old new again, and that’s what we’ve been saying about downtown, it’s undergoing a renaissance,” says Merced Economic Development Director Frank Quintero.

Bitwise says this facility will include enough tenant space for six to eight companies and an entry retail space. It’s expected to open in 2021.

New Valley program lets you earn a bachelor’s degree in less than 2 years

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — The road to a bachelor’s degree in business is hitting the fast track for some Valley students.

A partnership between Fresno Pacific University (FPU) and Reedley College will allow students at community college to earn the advanced degree without even leaving campus.

“A portion of the course is offered on site and a portion happens online and we can get students through their bachelors in about 18 months,” says Dr. Katie Fleener, the dean of FPU’s School of Business.

Bringing the degree to students’ doorstep was crucial since transportation can be an issue for folks living outside Fresno.

“I come from a rural community and I understand that students can’t always go away or stay at school or travel. Even if travel isn’t a problem, if they have a vehicle it’s time away from helping with the family or helping on the farm, taking care of your kids or trying to work and make ends meet,” says Dr. Sharon Starcher, program director of the FPU School of Business.

Students only need to have 60 units of transfer credit or an associate’s degree to qualify.

Each bachelor’s level business class is about 6 weeks.

“It’s FPU faculty, FPU curriculum, coursework just in the Reedley college classroom,” says Fleener.

The CVBT Podcast: Bay Area manufacturer moves headquarters to Central Valley

Central Valley Business Times

December 16, 2019

  • Jatco Incorporated finds warm welcome in Modesto
  • Uses robots and human workers for precision molding

For anyone who might have thought high-tech manufacturing cannot be found in the Central Valley, there’s a now-former San Francisco Bay Area company that might change one’s mind. It’s Jatco Incorporated, a plastic injection molding company that has packed up and moved its headquarters and main manufacturing plant to Modesto after some 40 years in the Bay Area.

“We are plastic injection molders. We’re custom molders, which means that we produce product that different OEMs require,” says Steven Jones, president of Jatco. “We product a lot of medical products, some agricultural  product, consumer product – a very wide range of plastic product … from very tiny medical parts to things the size of a curbside garbage bin.”

Mr. Jones says the company employs more than 100 workers in the new plant on Stoddard Road. Steven Jones is president of Jatco and joins us on this CVBT Audio Interview Podcast to tell why his growing company picked Modesto….

Please click here to listen:

Or here:

For more information:

Registration opens for 6th “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit


  • Set for April 21, 2020 in Fresno
  • Features keynote speaker John Shegerian The 6th annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit is scheduled for April 21, 2020 in Fresno, say the sponsors, the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and the Fresno Business Council. It is scheduled to feature keynote speaker John Shegerian, co-founder and executive chairman of Fresno-based ERI.

More than 1,000 representatives from the manufacturing industry are expected for the day-long event at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Registration is open by visiting Also sponsorships and exhibit space are available by contacting Genelle Taylor Kumpe via email ( or calling 559.214.0140.

The event is designed as a workshop and resource expo that celebrates the Valley’s history of innovation in manufacturing while providing resources and networking opportunities that continue to build a well-trained, outstanding workforce.

“The goal … is to provide manufacturers with the needed resources and workforce connections to upscale and train existing employees for today’s automated technologies, and to attract the next generation workforce to grow the industry and region for a brighter future,” says Troy Brandt, chairman of the board for the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and general manager at Hydratech.

Mr. Shegerian is scheduled to talk about how to attract and retain effective employees and clients through good times and bad. As an entrepreneur, Mr. Shegerian co-founded several organizations built on his philosophies of making the world a better place one business at a time, and of providing a second chance to those who are most in need. His philosophies have led him to run the largest electronic recycling company in the U.S., among other ventures.

“The convention center will be filled with the leading lights of the Central Valley’s manufacturing industry and many of my fellow local business leaders, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to share useful takeaways regarding positive culture team building and how to balance best employee retention practices and effective operations with growing a profitable enterprise,” says Mr. Shegerian.

The San Joaquin Valley’s manufacturing industry is responsible for nearly $15 billion of the Valley’s gross domestic product and employs more than 105,000 people. Nationally, it is estimated that over the next decade, almost 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs will need to be filled due to baby-boomer retirements.

In Lathrop, it’s time for solar sausages

Central Valley Busines Times

December 11, 2019

  • Hormel Foods flips the switch for solar power at its Swiss American Sausage Company facility
  • “This project supports our environmental sustainability goals”

Pizza toppings are made out of many ingredients but now, in Lathrop, they’re being made with solar power. The Hormel Foods Swiss American Sausage Company plant in Lathrop is now making a variety of pepperoni and salami for foodservice pizza toppings with power from 2,000 solar panels installed on both the plant roof and on the ground. The project is projected to generate roughly 1.2 million kilowatt hours per year – enough to supply more than 15 percent of the plant’s annual electricity consumption.

IGS Solar partnered with Holt Renewables LLC to install the solar array, which is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 288 metric tons per year,  equivalent to removing 61 cars from the road annually or avoiding burning over 314,000 pounds of coal.

“We are pleased to announce the completion of this project,” says Tom Raymond, director of environmental sustainability at Hormel Foods. “This project supports our environmental sustainability goals and is another example of our commitment and support of renewable energy. ”IGS Solar will own, operate and maintain the array. The company is assisting Hormel Foods to integrate solar generation into its energy portfolio while helping the company better control the long-term energy costs for its buildings.

Plans emerge for major cannabis facility in Modesto. Up to 250 jobs are projected

A Canada-based company plans to use a 196,000-square-foot building in Beard Industrial tract to manufacture and distribute cannabis products. It would possibly be the largest commercial cannabis facility in California. The building, on Daly Avenue, is pictured here, on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Modesto, California.

A Canada-based company plans to use a 196,000-square-foot building in Beard Industrial tract to manufacture and distribute cannabis products. It would possibly be the largest commercial cannabis facility in California. The building, on Daly Avenue, is pictured here, on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Modesto, California. 

A Canada-based company has big plans to manufacture and distribute cannabis products from an expansive building in Modesto.

In April, Transcanna Holdings Inc. announced the purchase of the 196,000-square-foot building on Daly Avenue in the Beard Industrial District. The company with corporate offices in Vancouver has also acquired locally based Lyfted Farms, a county-permitted cannabis business that will manage the Modesto operations.

Lyfted is seeking a permit from Stanislaus County for growing cannabis in a 32,700-square-foot area inside the building. Cannabis products would be processed and packaged in the former turkey processing plant and distributed to retail outlets in California.

At full scale, the production facility operating seven days a week could employ 200 to 250 workers. In addition to cannabis flower, pre-rolls, oils and cannabidiol, the plant would use an extraction process to make edibles and vaping products.

The three-story facility also has the ability to freeze harvested cannabis to preserve its essential ingredients.

“We like indoor growing, but most of the facility would be for distribution and manufacturing,” said Steve Giblin, Transcanna’s chief executive officer.

Plans are to begin operations in the first quarter of 2020 with a small cultivation area and distribution, said Bob Blink, chief executive officer of Lyfted Farms. Security measures will include an 8-foot perimeter fence, surveillance cameras, an alarm system and at least three security guards.

“It is very secure,” Blink said. “Security is a big point locally and in the state. It has the best security around just by the way the building is designed.”

Transcanna is a startup company formed two years ago. With the Modesto processing plant, Transcanna’s website says, the company is positioned to serve the cannabis market in California, which apparently is regarded as the largest in the world. Extensive improvements have been made to the building.

The company’s stock is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange. The stock price has swung from $7.88 per share in May to closing at 79 cents on Monday.

A county Planning Commission hearing on the project could be set for Dec. 19, if the applicants come through with requested information for the county this week, or the hearing could be held in January.

County Senior Planner Kristin Doud said staff was waiting for information such as whether rooftop parking would be utilized. In addition, the county and the applicant still were discussing the fees to be paid to the county. A facility of that size could generate millions of dollars in fees over a five-year period.

A study on air quality and odor control could raise some questions before the Planning Commission, and traffic is another potential issue.

Doud said the cannabis fees spelled out in development agreements are based on the cultivation square-footage and anticipated output of manufacturing and distribution or may be a simple 3 percent of gross sales.

An earlier proposal for the Daly Avenue building was one of the original applications in 2017 when the county rolled out its permitting program for commercial cannabis, which was legalized by Proposition 64. A county screening process rejected that first application because it included too many applicants for one site, Doud said.

Lyfted came forward with the current application when a second county application window opened in August.

Transcanna said in April it had purchased the Daly facility for $15 million and would make an $8 million down payment, while the seller, Cool Swang, carried a $6.5 million promissory note at 7 percent interest for 13 months. In October, the company said the loan’s maturity date was being extended six months and issued 500,000 in restricted shares of stock (priced at 56 cents) to Cool Swang to settle a $280,000 fee. Cool Swang is owned by Chad Swan.

When asked about the company’s current stock value, Giblin said there was initial enthusiasm for investing in the cannabis industry but the realities of business are now affecting the stock price. Investors will want to see profits on the horizon.

Giblin said he expects the Daly building and the strong facility management team will help establish investor confidence. Alan Applonie was hired in June as the plant’s general manager. According to a news release, Applonie was instrumental in growing a consumer packaged goods company “from startup to two billion dollars in annual revenues” and has infrastructure systems experience with Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart and Kroger.

Transcanna also will rely on the expertise of Lyfted Farms. Earlier this year, county supervisors approved a permit for Lyfted to grow cannabis indoors and package products in a 19,500-square-foot warehouse on Jerusalem Court in north Modesto.

The Canadian firm also acquired a cannabis business called SolDaze, which is based in Santa Cruz.

Giblin, who has a history of turning companies around in the hotel and real estate industries, said the company needs to obtain the county permit and then approval from the state.

“We are happy about the strategic purchase of the Daly building and we really like Modesto,” Giblin said. “We think it’s a great place to grow.”


Construction activity in Fresno keeps coming, including this three-story office building under construction near Palm and Herndon avenues. Photo by Edward Smith.

Published On December 4, 2019 – 1:33 PM
Written By 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of four economic forecasts The Business Journal does every year for each of the four counties in our coverage area.

This seems to be a prime time for the world to kick the tires on Fresno County.

Interest from companies from far-flung countries including China and Japan has kept economic development officials busy, and even corporate America is taking a closer look at locating in Fresno County on the heels of Amazon and Ulta’s investment in e-commerce distribution centers.

At the same time, Fresno County’s agricultural sector continues to reassert itself as a force to be reckoned with. In fact, based off 2018 crop statistics, Fresno County once again became the top agricultural county in California and the U.S. — a position it hasn’t held since 2013.

Economic development and job creation are job one for Fresno County Economic Development Corp. Will Oliver, director of business services for the Fresno County EDC, noted that 2019 “was filled with much activity, interest and momentum.”

Fresno County welcomed new out-of-state e-commerce operations who either located facilities here or contracted with local third-party logistics partners, Oliver said.

Oliver noted considerable interest in the small cities of Fresno County. One example is Initiative Foods, which is one of the nation’s largest baby food manufacturers, and a major international exporter. It recently completed a 30,000 square foot addition at its Sanger manufacturing plant. Another city, Reedley, is using available resources to lure an advanced food manufacturer.

The region’s designation as a federal Opportunity Zone has done much to jumpstart some of that interest, Oliver noted. The geographical designation provides incentives in the form of reduced capital gains taxes on investments for capital projects.

Fresno County is preparing to kick Opportunity Zone marketing of the region into high gear.

“Much groundwork has been laid to support Opportunity Zone investments by preparing projects and developing a digital prospectus to market the region’s assets, which will be live in 2020,” Oliver said.

Kingsburg recently made big news with T-Mobile’s announcement that it planned to locate a call center there that would create 1,000 jobs, which would be a major jolt to the local economy. That project is contingent on the telecommunication company’s successful merger with Sprint.

Fresno had a bit of a coming-out party earlier this month as host of the California Economic Summit, which included announcements of millions of dollars in investment into the Central Valley. It provided some much-needed momentum heading into the New Year, Oliver noted.

“2020 will certainly be focused on recruiting and expanding high-growth, traded sector companies and industries, such as in health care, agricultural technology and manufacturing,” Oliver said.

On the international front, while much of the economic development work is understandably behind the scenes and not for public consumption, word has trickled down that a Japanese company called Manda Fermentation Co. is on the verge of locating operations in Fresno County. Other Asian countries are looking at the county, undoubtedly drawn to it as a center for international agriculture.

On the agricultural front, Jan. 31, 2020, is a pivotal deadline as the state’s water managers — large and small — must provide plans for how they will manage groundwater usage under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Ryan Jacobsen, CEO/executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said the sustainability plans will take 20 years to implement, with progress reports required every five years. But just getting to this stage has taken a lot of time, not to mention paperwork, as each plan is “hundreds, if not thousands of pages long,” he said.

Jacobsen said a number of factors — ongoing trade negotiations with China, new federal scientific guidelines on the pumping of water from the delta and engaged leadership on the local, state and federal level — give him reason for optimism.

Trade friction with China has been especially worrisome.

“The trade issue is front and center,” he said. “I’m optimistic that we can come to an agreement with China. I’ve been an eternal optimist.”

A renovation surge is remaking this downtown Fresno street. A historic building is next

Big renovation plans for historic Fulton Street building

Plans are underway for a major repurposing project to host a micro brewery, tech office space, among other possibilities, for the 1918 building at 736 Fulton Street. 

A stretch of Fulton Street in downtown Fresno is getting a lot of love lately.

It’s about to get some more.

A brick building estimated to be 101 years old at 736 Fulton St., across the street from the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co.’s beer garden, has new owners. They are in the process of renovating the building, with plans to rent space out to businesses.

Local developer Reza Assemi and technology entrepreneur Jamin Brazil bought the building last year. It’s in the heart of the Brewery District, near Inyo Street, next door to the Mecca Billiards supply shop with the giant mural featuring pool balls.

They plan to turn the bottom floor into spaces for microbreweries – or perhaps one big brewery – or other entertainment-oriented businesses. The second floor will be turned into offices and other work spaces.

And its basement? Maybe a speakeasy.

The building was once a car dealership and has housed a long list of businesses over the years, ranging from Sun Stereo warehouse to an underwear and polo shirt manufacturer.

It could be ready for new renters as early as five months from now.


It joins a snowballing surge of redevelopment on that block. Two doors down, Zack’s Brewing Co. opened a year ago in old garage.

Across the street, the building with the “brewery district” mural painted on the side will soon be home to the Modernist cocktail bar. It plans to open this winter. In the same building, 411 Broadway Ales & Spirits plans to open a beer tasting room.

Next door to that building, on the corner of Fulton and Mono streets, the landlords are working to get the building ready for potential tenants.

Tioga-Sequoia is at times attracting thousands of people for events like Fresno Street Eats food truck nights.

Whoever ends up renting the building that’s being renovated will have a prime view of the action in the beer garden, along with nearby Chukchansi Park, and the growing nightlife scene on Fulton.

The owners hope to blend that nightlife with day uses like offices and perhaps a bodega, a small urban grocery store, Brazil said.

He’s positive about the future of downtown.

“We recognize that downtown is going to have an explosion over the coming five years,” he said. “We believe there’s opportunity to enable small businesses to set their footprint down here and succeed.”


For now, the owners are calling the building The Brewery, though they’re open to suggestions for other names. It’s sometimes called the Sun Stereo warehouse (Warehouse Sound in one old Fresno Bee story) and once had 12 stores in the West when it closed in 1981.

It was once called the Charles Foreman Sales building, after a business that sold Briscoe cars, according documents from 1919 and later.

The new owners were also told it once housed Model T cars, and may have been a distribution hub of sorts. Its 18-foot ceilings are supported by massive cement columns.

“It’s like a tank,” Assemi said of the building.

It has a huge freight elevator – big enough to hold a car – and roll-up garage doors in the back.

There’s a basement with numbers painted on the wall (perhaps labels for car part storage?).

Over the years, the building has housed all sorts of businesses: A used car dealership, Bass-Hunter Paint Co., National Lead Co., Mildred Cole Draperies, an underwear and polo shirt factory, a lithograph business, a carpet and furnishings company, and an office furniture company.

In the early 1940s, the Works Progress Administration sewing project rented the second floor, with 85 women sewing clothing that was distributed through social service agencies, according to city documents.

It’s been empty for 20 years or so, Assemi said.


Though it was “a mess,” when they got it, Assemi said, the building is all cleared out now, an empty shell with brick walls.

They’ll keep the brick exterior – which is required because the building is on the Local Register of Historic Resources – and clean up all the architectural details out front.

About 26,000 square feet of space is ready to be turned into something new. The owners envision one large commercial space in front on the north end, perhaps a bodega.

Next to it will be a main entrance to the first floor with a courtyard-like front and a lobby with a grand staircase leading to the second floor and elevator.

Assemi envisions some metal crow sculptures in the main courtyard entrance, mimicking the giant hoards of crows that fly around downtown at dusk. He’s installed a similar style of art at his other projects around town like Broadway Studios and Iron Bird Lofts.

The first floor will have a wide corridor leading down the middle with entrances to many small spaces ranging from 450 to 1,200 square feet. That’s where microbreweries or tap rooms, small kitchens or maker spaces could go, Brazil said.

The second floor is now wide open, with lots of wood beams on the ceiling and skylights letting in plenty of light.

They envision offices on the second floor, a concept that’s similar to WeWork, or Workspace in Fresno’s Pacific Southwest Building. They will have space for individuals or companies that’s ready to move into, with internet, desks, meeting rooms and a cleaning service.

Brazil’s firm will move there too. He’s is the founder of the eight-person HubUX, a research operations software firm, and met Assemi when they were neighbors.

Brazil is also the co-founder and CEO of Decipher, a Fresno-based company that wrote survey software for clients — including eBay, PayPal and Whole Foods — that collects and analyzes information. That company has since been sold to New York-based FocusVision.

The Fulton Street building also has a quiet basement insulated from everything above it.

At least part of it will likely be dedicated a podcasting studio. Brazil also runs the Happy Market Research podcast, with 80,000 subscribers.

And yes, maybe that speakeasy.

Potential renters can contact the owners and see more about the plans at

UC Merced is proving to be the boon to the Valley it was predicted to become


DECEMBER 06, 2019 06:00 AM

UC Merced Interim Chancellor Nathan Brostrom. ELENA ZHUKOVA  SPECIAL TO THE SUN-STAR

Thirty years ago, The Fresno Bee celebrated the long overdue decision to build a University of California campus in the Central Valley. “What a prize,” read the Bee editorial that predicted “thousands of new jobs (and) a boon to the local economy.”

Another decade passed before groundbreaking, and the worst recession since the Great Depression followed. From the start, UC Merced faced challenges that, to some, seemed insurmountable.

What a difference a few years and strong leadership by my predecessor, Dorothy Leland, have made. Today, UC Merced is marking its 14th year — and living up to the Bee’s predictions.

The youngest campus in the nation’s finest public higher research institution, UC Merced — the only U.S. research university built in the 21st century — is already ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the 44th best public institution in the country and No. 1 for student outcomes, a ranking that includes creating social mobility for our students, 99.5 percent of whom hail from California.

These are significant achievements, but I am most proud of what they reflect about California, and the Valley in particular.

The Morrill Act, signed by President Abraham Lincoln to create “land grant” institutions like the University of California, had three critical goals: to educate citizens from all walks of life, not just the elite; to advance research into cutting-edge economic needs of the day; and to stay closely tied to the regions they serve.

UC Merced adheres to these principles.

We are educating California’s emerging citizenry, many more of whom hail from the Valley.

We are driving the local economy through cutting-edge research in the fields of our day. Breakthroughs in drone technology and smart watering systems will make our agricultural sector more efficient and more profitable; our new Bio Safety 3 Lab will tackle the harmful effects of Valley fever; and our Venture Lab in downtown Merced, partnering with the city and the Small Business Administration, guides aspiring entrepreneurs from idea to marketplace.

And we remain committed to the Valley, working closely with city and county governments, schools, and health and other social service organizations.

After state cuts stalled the initial phase of campus construction, UC Merced created a first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation public-private partnership — Merced 2020 — to double its footprint and provide the laboratories, classrooms, housing and other services needed to expand its education, economic and research impact. UC Merced now employs more than 1,600 full- and part-time employees, with a monthly payroll of more than $16 million. By completion next summer, Merced 2020 will have created 10,000 construction jobs in the Valley and injected $1.9 billion into the regional economy.

Governing magazine recently cited UC Merced as a major reason the Merced metro area experienced the top personal income growth of any region since 2012. And a 2018 academic study affirmed that “the opening of UC Merced has generated positive effects on employment and the wages of workers in Merced” and significantly expanded the local service industry.

The benefits will accrue over generations, as graduates reap the benefits of a UC education. Multiple studies confirm that a worker with a bachelor’s degree earns more than double over her or his lifetime than a worker with only a high school diploma, and is far less likely to experience unemployment during tough times. UC Merced’s high marks for creating social mobility are thus easily explained, given that nearly three-quarters of our undergraduates are the first in their families to go to college.

We know we aren’t doing this alone. Alongside Fresno State, Stanislaus State, CSU Bakersfield, Merced College, Modesto Junior College, Fresno City College and Clovis Community College, and many others, we have created a great economic engine in the Valley — second, perhaps, only to our mighty agricultural industry.

Valley agriculture fills the bellies of the world, and Valley higher education is shaping the minds of the next generation. Together we are truly building the future right here in the heart of California — the emerging, new California.