Lemoore City Manager Nathan Olson says that an official application has been submitted from Helena Chemical looking to relocate from Hanford.
Lemoore City Manager Nathan Olson says that an official application has been submitted from Helena Chemical looking to relocate from Hanford.
Central Valley Meat wants to do a two-phase expansion of its beef processing plant in Hanford and has applied to Kings County for a conditional use permit. The big plant already processes about 1,500 head of cattle a day.
According to the application filed earlier this year, the company plans to increase the capacity three-fold to 4,500 head a day. The facility is located just off of Highway 198 at the urban edge of Hanford, putting jurisdiction for permitting with the county.
County planner Kao Nou Yang says the process is in an early stage in environmental review, just now receiving comments from stakeholders including the city and the California Department of Transportation.
Lemoore’s largest employer, Leprino Cheese Co, has filed plans to build a 32 acre,10 megawatt solar farm just west of their big plant. Panels will be ground mounted. The city Planning Commission recently approved the application that will help cut the power bill at one the the largest cheese manufacturing facilities in the US. 10MW of power is enough to light up some 2500 homes.
The Lemoore West facility employs 1,000 team members, its size is equal to 11 football fields with over 640,000 square feet of cheese making capacity. Just how much of the daily power needs will be met by the solar farm is not known but it is thought to be substantial. In addition, having an on-site power source could offer the plant energy security in case of rolling grid blackouts.
In the past five years, the price of solar has declined some 45% says the Solar Energy Industry Association. Another incentive is the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), where PV system owners qualify to offset tax payments owed to the IRS in an amount equal to 26% of the eligible cost basis of a solar photovoltaic system until the end of 2022.
California approves grants to food processors for similar systems to help food processors reduce their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced 95 manufacturing plants nationwide earned Energy Star certification in 2020 for being the most energy-efficient in their industries, and three of those companies are from the Central Valley.
Vitro Architectural Glass in Fresno, J.R. Simplot Company in Helm in Fresno County, and Ardagh Glass in Madera have been awarded the distinction.
By managing their energy usage strategically during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Energy Star Certified plants saved nearly $400 million on energy bills, which is equal to the payroll value of over 8,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs.
“EPA commends our partners here in California for their leadership in advancing energy and cost saving improvements,” said EPA’s Air & Radiation Division Director for the Pacific Southwest region Elizabeth Adams. “Their commitment to energy efficiency not only protects the environment, it is a smart business decision that supports the bottom line.”
Beginning in 2006, the Energy Star Industrial program has annually certified manufacturing plants in the U.S. for operating within the top 25% of energy performance in their industry nationwide.
Since the first manufacturers received their certification from the program 15 years ago, the plants have realized more than $6 billion in savings on energy bills.
Other California companies that received certification for their performance in 2020 include Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. in Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, and San Diego, and Flowers Baking Co. in Modesto.
Central Valley Meat wants to do a two-phase expansion of its beef processing plant in Hanford and has applied to Kings County for a conditional use permit. The big plant already processes about 1,500 head of cattle a day. According to the application filed earlier this year, the company plans to increase the capacity three-fold to 4,500 head a day. The facility is located just off of Highway 198 at the urban edge of Hanford, putting jurisdiction for permitting with the county.
County planner Kao Nou Yang says the process is in an early stage in environmental review, just now receiving comments from stakeholders including the city and the California Department of Transportation. “The project will be heard by the county planning commission with a public hearing but not any time soon,” said Yang. She adds the county has not yet determined the extent of the environmental review.
The latest survey of the Site Selectors Guild views on site selection activity and trends is attached and I have a few comments. While I generally agree with the greater optimism, I’m more cautious and think that there are uncertainty and nuances to consider.
Guild members are much more optimistic today than in April last year, at the depth of the Covid-19 recessions and uncertainty, that companies will move forward with site selection projects. The pace and coverage of Covid-19 vaccinations is an obvious concern. Second, some projects, such as facilities with long planning and construction timelines and notably those tied to e-commerce such as data centers, e-commerce fulfillment centers, delivery equipment and others seem to have hardly paused. I spoke yesterday to representatives from California’s Central Valley who said that e-commerce fulfillment has been strong throughout in their area driven by access to LA and the Bay Area combined with available land and lower costs.
There is a difference between site selection activity and starting construction. Companies may resume their site searches, but at some time they have to weigh their views of future economic activity and demand for their products and decide whether to start construction or not. Increased activity is not the same as increased investment. We’ll see, but my feeling is that the second half of the year or early 2021is more promising for increase divestment.
I think that stabilization of FDI into the U.S. is more likely than growth. Greater predictability of trade and tariff policy and reliance on rules-based procedures will help confidence. But FDI into the U.S. also depends on pandemic control progress and economic stability in historical investment sources from the EU and other developed countries.
There will the continued pressure for reshoring and crating redundancy particularly in health care related industries where bottlenecks and delays were heightened during the pandemic response. However, supply chains are complicated, and many recent articles have pointed out that supply chains for products as diverse as bicycles and computers are concentrated in east and southeast Asia and this will constrain reshoring in the near term and likely longer. As the Economist noted recently: “Is a wave of supply-chain reshoring around the corner? Experience and evidence suggests they are stickier than you think.”
MODESTO, Calif. — Alejandro Alcazar had worked as a digital marketing coordinator for about a year when he discovered an interest in coding.
“I grew really interested in computer programming through messing with our (company) website and learning a lot about data science,” he said.
Alcazar has a degree in business administration, but he wasn’t using those skills in his job. Still, he didn’t know enough about web development to secure a position in the industry. That’s when he learned about classes at Bay Valley Tech, a Modesto-based coding school.
The 24-year-old enrolled in early 2020, and, after completing the seven-month program, got a job as a business intelligence analyst for a winery.
In his new job, Alcazar said he uses skills he developed at Bay Valley Tech to work with the company’s internal dashboards that show product and demographic data, as well as its search engine. His pay also increased by more than 30% in his new role.
Workers like Alcazar aren’t the only ones wanting to capitalize on the benefits of the tech industry. If a city can retain its tech workers, it can usually count on a boost to the local economy and an influx of other businesses and professionals such as lawyers and accountants.
But keeping tech workers local requires innovation and incentive, as leaders across Stanislaus County in California’s Central Valley are finding out.
Compared with other industries, the tech sector has remained competitive in the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work has become the new normal, and the tech industry was quick to adapt, expanding flexible work policies into post-pandemic times.
Now, office parks sit empty and cities and corporations must grapple with the changing nature of office work and all the possibilities it brings.
Less than two hours east of the Bay Area, the Central Valley isn’t exactly known as a tech hub. Agriculture, logistics and manufacturing dominate the area; the region is home to the world’s largest commercial winery and farms that feed the nation.
The workforce reflects that too — only 17% of Stanislaus County residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, Census data shows. Given that, it may not be surprising that Modesto, the county’s largest city, has no four-year university of its own.
The “skills gap” in the workforce is only widening. Local high schools and colleges have struggled to keep up as the economy evolves to favor more tech-forward industries.
Tech firms bypass Central Valley
As local talent pools dry up, Silicon Valley companies looking to expand have often picked other states. such as Texas and Idaho, instead of the county next door.
“There’s such a shortage of tech workers in the Bay Area right now that virtually every large tech firm has already expanded out of state looking for more talent,” said Phillip Lan, co-founder of Bay Valley Tech, a local coding academy. “Unfortunately, the vast majority of them have stepped over the Central Valley, just because they don’t feel like there’s enough of a technical workforce here yet.”
Lan and his team are trying to change that. Bay Valley Tech offers free and low-cost coding classes to students in a variety of web-based development languages, providing hands-on training through lessons, events like hackathons, and networking opportunities.
So far, Lan said, Bay Valley Tech has trained more than 150 students and is on pace to reach 300 in 2021. But his goals are set higher.
“Our strategy is that if we train enough people here in the Central Valley, that’ll start to get the attention of these larger tech companies like Uber, Airbnb and Google,” he said. “We’re looking to build out Bay Valley (Tech’s) expertise sector by sector.”
In the past, tech hub development depended in part on the physical infrastructure a city could provide — like Silicon Valley’s history of making computer chips and Austin’s decades-long infrastructure support for its tech industry. But with the pandemic’s new normal and the majority of Silicon Valley’s big tech firms building virtual products, physical space is no longer at a premium.
Focus is on training workers
Instead, Bay Valley Tech and other organizations in the Central Valley are focusing on training employees who can accept remote jobs from Bay Area-based companies or work in satellite offices closer to home.
Daisy Mayorga leads the local chapter of Google’s Women Techmakers, aimed at providing community and resources for women in the industry. She said it’s critical that women and other underrepresented groups in tech are seen and heard by potential employers.
“When people start to see that, you’ll see more businesses start to open and more people start to want to start their own software companies,” she said.
In addition to jobs related to software, Modesto is trying to attract employers who build hardware. The VOLT Institute, a trade school focused on maintenance mechanics and mechatronics, recently acquired new equipment to train workers.
Kevin Fox, director of marketing and student engagement at VOLT, said the pandemic has taught the staff that improving workers’ skills is crucial, especially when employers are “desperate to bring anybody who is qualified with the proper skill set on to fill those positions that are vacant.”
He said the Central Valley has plenty of residents who are hungry for these kinds of opportunities.
“There are young people here that are just dying to get a good job and try something creative and useful,” he said. “Something that benefits a community.”
Source: Kristina Karisch covers economic development for The Modesto Bee. This dispatch is part of a series called “On the Ground” with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Follow her on Twitter: @kristinakarisch
Twelve years after the Army stopped making ammunition in Riverbank, the vast plant is only partway toward its potential for new jobs. But that could improve soon, local officials said during a tour Thursday for Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock. They envision about 2,000 people working for various tenants, up from about 650 now, with an emphasis on green industries.
Harder heard about how long it is taking for state and federal agencies to ensure that contaminated portions of the site are cleaned up. It stretches across 173 acres at Claus and Claribel roads, with about 150 buildings and plenty of open land. Harder earlier helped a company navigate federal rules regarding foreign investment in a venture that would make vehicle fuel from nut shells and orchard wood waste. Aemetis plans to employ about 50 people on the Riverbank site and said contract truckers would add perhaps 1,000 more jobs. “There’s a lot of unique things about this site,” Harder said. “It’s already prebuilt for manufacturing opportunities.”
Tejon Ranch Co. (NYSE: TRC) is pleased to announce Camping World Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CWH) as the newest addition at Tejon Ranch Commerce Center (TRCC). Camping World is in the process of relocating operations from their 160,000 sq ft distribution center in Bakersfield to a brand new 389,160 sq ft location within TRCC, and has agreed to a multi-year lease within a 579,160 sq ft building within TRCC owned by TRC and its partner in the building Majestic Realty. “We are happy to welcome Camping World to our ever-expanding Tejon Ranch Commerce Center neighborhood. Their relocation to TRCC is a testament to the value of our central location and adjacency to both Interstate 5 and Hwy 99 – making it the ideal and opportune place for companies wanting to expand in
California to locate their business.” said Joseph N. Rentfro, executive vice president of real estate at Tejon Ranch Co.
TRCC is growing to maximum capacity and remains 100% leased as well as 100% occupied. TRCC’s 1,450- acre state of the art development is located at the junction of Interstate 5 and Highway 99 in Kern County and features 20 million square feet of fully-entitled commercial and industrial space. In addition to Camping World’s recent relocation to TRCC, the commerce center has also enabled recent expansions by existing businesses like Dollar General and IKEA, welcomed L’OREAL, and is also home to the major distribution centers of like Famous Footwear and Caterpillar.
Wonderful Real Estate Development has landed Amazon as an anchor tenant at Wonderful Industrial Park (WIP) on the heels of Walmart Inc. taking occupancy at the industrial commerce park – one of the largest in the Western U.S. Amazon leased a 1 million-square-foot building on 72-acres located at 4500 Express within Wonderful Industrial Park, and joins other large occupiers in the park such as Ross Stores with +3 million square feet on 130 acres, Target’s 2 million square feet on 80 acres and, Walmart at 630,000 square feet and 80 feet of clear height on 60 acres. Walmart’s new state of the art grocery-focused distribution center incorporates the most sophisticated automated sorting equipment and systems in the industry.
With Amazon, WIP is now approaching 10 million square feet of occupied space. Other WIP occupants include Essendant (Staples, Inc), American Tire Distributors, Formica, and Hillman as well as other 3PLs who have found WIP’s location and amenities extremely profitable. “Despite Covid-19, the commercial real estate story of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 continues to be how hot the industrial market is, with tenants like Ross, Walmart and now, Amazon, choosing to locate these major mission-critical facilities at WIP in consecutive years. It not only validates our location and development model, but adds an exclamation mark to industrial activity across the U.S.,” said Joe Vargas, President of Wonderful Real Estate Development.
In the first quarter of 2021, Wonderful will also break ground on its latest speculative development, 3800 Fanucchi Way. 3800 Fanucchi Way will feature 1,063,000 square feet, 40 feet of clear height, 215-dock high doors, and parking expandable to 1,000 stalls to accommodate trailers and employee spaces. The building will be delivered in the fourth quarter 2021. This facility will be located on a 70-acre site with a building-to-site coverage of 35%.