New housing development in Visalia set to begin construction

VISALIA – Another development is in the works in Visalia looking to increase available housing in Tulare County. San Joaquin Valley Homes and Presidio Residential Capital recently closed on land in northeast Visalia off of East Goshen Avenue and west of Lovers Lane. The new community will be called Maplewood and consist of 138 single-family, detached homes. Construction will begin in late 2022 with model homes expected by spring 2023. Maplewood homes will range in size from 1,298 to 2,076 square feet on minimum 5,000 square feet lots. One- and two-story modern cottage, craftsman and farmhouse style exteriors will be situated throughout traffic-friendly cul-de-sacs that include spacious corners and some oversized lots. Homes will have three to four bedrooms and two to 2.5 bathrooms with attached two-car garages.

The community will be located in the Visalia Unified School District where students will attend Mineral King Elementary School, Valley Oak Intermediate School and Golden West High School. “We love to build homes in Visalia,” said Lana Fahoum, sales manager at SJV Homes. “Many of our staff live and work here, so we’re excited to share this wonderful community with new homeowners from families just starting out to retiring couples who wish to downsize.” According to the National Association of Home Builders’ formula to determine the local impact of single-family housing in typical metro areas, adding 138 single-family homes will generate $39 million in local income, $5 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments and 543 local jobs.

Amazon Picks Central Valley Town for First Package Deliveries by Drone

Retailing giant Amazon announced Monday it picked a small town in the Central Valley near Stockton to be the first location for public drone deliveries. Deliveries to Lockeford, a town of 3,500 on State Route 88, would begin later this year. This would be the first time Amazon makes drone deliveries to the American public, and it follows several pilot projects by companies such as Walmart, United Parcel Service and FedEx. The online retailer said it was working with Federal Aviation Administration and local officials to secure permits. The drones will have the capability to fly beyond-line-of-sight and will be programmed to drop parcels in the backyards of customers. “Lockeford residents will play an important role in defining the future,” Amazon said. “Their feedback about Prime Air, with drones delivering packages in their backyards, will help us create a service that will safely scale to meet the needs of customers everywhere.” The company predicted that drone delivery “could one day become just as common as seeing an Amazon delivery van pull up outside your house.” Amazon made its first customer delivery by drone in the United Kingdom in 2016 and had touted its plans for drone delivery for years before that.

California Distributes $108.6 Million to Create Regional Education-to-Career Pipelines

California’s ground-breaking K-16 Education Collaboratives Grant Program will provide new pathways to career opportunities for students in their local communities, addressing longstanding equity challenges in higher education and workforce participation

SACRAMENTO – The Department of General Services (DGS), Office of Public School Construction, and the Foundation for California Community Colleges announced the first six awards – totaling $108.6 million – for the Regional K-16 Education Collaboratives Grant Program, as part of a $250 million investment in the 2021 Budget Act. This program is a key component of a statewide strategy for cultivating regional economies, strengthening education-to-career pathways, and ensuring that education, vocational, and workforce programs work in partnership to provide broader access for all to education and employment opportunities. “We’re creating new regional pipelines – K-12 schools to higher education to the workforce – for California’s students that will prepare our kids for the jobs of the future in their communities. This essential collaboration will help bridge equity gaps and provide more resources to help our students achieve their career goals right in their own communities,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. As communities across the state work to transform our public education system from cradle to career – scaling universal transitional kindergarten, expanding after-school programs, improving college access and affordability, and more – the regional collaboratives will serve to marshal action and promote implementation. Along with priorities such as the Community Economic Resilience Fund and Cradle-to-Career Data System, California is building partnerships and structures to ensure policies translate to on-the-ground improvements. “The Department of General Services is proud to be of assistance in administering this innovative program that will bring together regional partners to better serve all the learners of California, ensuring equitable pathways to meaningful careers,” said DGS Director Ana Lasso. “As the business manager of the state, DGS is excited to see the collaboration, system changes and enhancements that result from timely investment.” The first six awards of approximately $18.1 million each, for a total of $108.6 million, will be going to the following collaboratives (summaries of each collaborative can be found on the Regional K-16 Education Collaboratives Grant Program website):

  • Central San Joaquin Valley: Central San Joaquin Valley K16 Partnership (Fresno-Madera Collaborative & Tulare-Kings Collaborative). The Partnership brings together the Fresno-Madera Collaborative and Tulare-Kings College & Career Collaborative – with partners including the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, State Center Community College District, Fresno State, and UC Merced – to develop four education to work pathways in health care, education, business management, and engineering / computing, with goals to increase the number of graduates with postsecondary degrees and certifications in these high wage disciplines, close equity gaps and economic disparities, and improve graduation rates and time-to-degree across all institutions.
  • North State: North State Together (Shasta Tehama Trinity Joint Community College District). North State Together (NST) brings together partners across the region – including the Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint Community College District, Shasta County Office of Education, CSU Chico, and UC Davis – to expand educational access, regional support networks, and cross-sector partnerships. They plan to increase college and career readiness, create occupational pathway programs in health care and education, and streamline transitions between educational institutions and the workforce.
  • Kern County: Kern Regional K16 Education Collaborative (Kern County Superintendent of Schools). The Kern K16 Regional Education Collaborative seeks to prepare students for the global economy by dismantling long-standing social and economic inequities in the region, removing barriers to student success, and improving educational outcomes. The collaborative brings together partners – including the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Kern Community College District, CSU Bakersfield, and UC Merced – to develop pathways in health care, education, and engineering/computing with a focus on fostering inclusive institutions to better serve historically underrepresented students, streamline pathways to degrees and facilitate student transitions, and increase access to resources supporting basic, digital, and financial needs.
  • Redwood Coast: Redwood Coast K16 Education Collaborative (California State Polytechnic University Humboldt). The Redwood Coast Collaborative brings together partners across the region – California State Polytechnic University Humboldt, Sonoma State University, the Humboldt County Office of Education, Redwoods Community College District, UC Davis, and ProjectAttain! – to develop a robust college-going culture in the region by building career pathways for education and health care, specifically focused on increasing participation in and completion of A-G courses and improving retention rates in higher education, especially for Native American and socioeconomically disadvantaged students in the region.
  • Orange County: OC Pathways to and Through College and Career (Orange County Department of Education). OC Pathways aims to promote career and college readiness for students in the Orange County region by developing and expanding career education opportunities. This project brings together partners – the Orange County Department of Education, Rancho Santiago Community College District, Coast Community College District, South Orange County Community College District, North Orange County Community College District, CSU Fullerton, UC Irvine and Chapman University – to implement high-quality programs in education, health care, business management, and engineering/computing that offer career preparation and college credit attainment by leveraging regional work partnerships, decreasing institutional barriers, providing rigorous and relevant Career Technical Education courses, and college credit opportunities for all students.
  • Sacramento: Sacramento K16 Collaborative (Los Rios Community College District). The Sacramento Collaborative brings together partners throughout the region – including Los Rios Community College District, CSU Sacramento, UC Davis, and the Sacramento County Office of Education – to develop and expand career pathways for students in health care and engineering. They plan to invest in structures supporting preparation for college and transitions between educational institutions, develop a regional data sharing system, and provide targeted support to historically underserved students.

The program provides funding to enhance or create collaborative efforts between the University of California system, the California State University system, Community Colleges, K-12 School Districts, and workforce partners. Collaboratives participating in the program commit to creating two occupational pathways from the following sectors:

  • Health care
  • Education
  • Business management
  • Engineering or computing

Collaboratives must also commit to implementing four of seven recommendations pulled from the Recovery with Equity report to promote student success. The seven recommendations are:

  • Improve faculty, staff, and administrator diversity
  • Cultivate inclusive, engaging, and equity-oriented learning environment
  • Retain students through inclusive support
  • Provide high-tech, high-touch advising
  • Support college preparation and early credit
  • Subsidize internet access for eligible students
  • Improve college affordability

The program offers two phases for application submittal with the goal to award one grant within each of the 13 Community Economic Resilience Fund or CERF regions. The Department of General Services also intends to work with three other regions that submitted applications in this first funding phase to solicit supplemental information for a revised application with the hope to select a single, strong grantee for each region. There is also a second phase of funding available to regions that require additional time and planning to establish collaborative partners or to determine their program goals.


Todd Pigott started his first business with not much more than $17 to his name. He did janitorial work, going door-to-door while he studying construction management at Fresno State. After rolling a utility vehicle, he reevaluated his career and realized that line of work wasn’t for him. He sold his janitorial company and got into a different kind of real estate service. Now Pigott operates the only certified REIT — Real Estate Investment Trust — in the Central Valley, and his business is pushing for a $100 million fundraise with a goal to expand services and footprint from 10 states to 15. Pigott took up house flipping after selling his janitorial business in 2006. Rehabilitating rundown homes and turning them around soon established a rapport with his bank. It was also in 2006 that he began lending. A line of credit from his bank and fundraising from family and friends earned him enough money to start a private capital firm named after his three children —Zachary, Nicholas and Cameron. He started by himself but quickly expanded to five employees through the Great Recession, eventually ending up with 45 today.

It’s a niche in real estate finance. House flippers rely on different kinds of home loans than regular homebuyers. Loans are given on terms typically less than a year with higher interest rates. And because of the state of the homes, they aren’t backed by government entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Pigott started lending not only with distressed asset loans, but also loans on multi-family properties and refinance deals. He quickly learned the lessons of working with C-Class and D-Class multifamily properties. The promises of profit couldn’t outweigh the attention and maintenance required on those properties. He decided to narrow the focus and now ZINC Financial, listed with the SEC as ZINC Income Fund, primarily writes bridge loans for house flippers as well as auto loans for people who don’t qualify for normal financing. Pigott says house flipping is a win-win-win. Neighbors like distressed homes being cleaned up, investors get a percentage, flippers get paid and families get to move in to renovated homes. The Central Valley market presents investors low buy-ins compared to other parts of California — in addition to high returns.

The Los Angeles Times named Fresno the hottest real estate market in 2021. Real estate investment firm Lima One Capital released a market study pointing out the strength of Fresno investments. Out of 233 flips, investors averaged a $94,000 return on a $235,000 median purchase price. Pigott said his firm averages between five and 20 a month in the Central Valley. Outlying communities such as Pixley, Sanger, Madera and Chowchilla have significant populations of blue-collar workers looking for affordable housing. “ZINC recently rehabbed homes in Reedley, Sanger and other small surrounding communities and all had multiple offers and went above asking price,” Pigott said.  But flipping isn’t an easy business. Year-over-year appreciation on home values averaging 20% and time on market less than a week might give investors strong exit strategies, but that means competing against a glut of other offers.

Supply chains have also made timelines for flippers more difficult. Having to wait months to get supplies in when the average loan term is 7.5 months leaves very little room for contractors to finish work on time. And local governments are still only partly back at the office. Pigott warns investors to stay away from anything needing structural work or permits. “If you have to go pull a permit and go down there,” Pigott said, “what would normally take two-to-four weeks is taking two-to-four months now.”  Still, Pigott says he has consistently netted investors 8%-10% returns. When he first started the capital firm, he would seek out investors who would write checks of upwards of $800,000, he said. But Pigott said establishing the REIT was more efficient and they are able to get funds quicker. The process took years and $200,000. He contracted with lawyers who specialize in enforcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission. “It’s very expensive to form and very expensive to monitor, but — but, it creates an efficiency for us because we can just fund what we need to fund and it creates some definite benefits for our investors,” Pigott said.

Soon ZINC needed to find its own home. The bank offered to Pigott its own distressed property — the former KKDJ and United Security Bank building at 1525 E. Shaw Ave. The building had been vacated after the former tenant, Alta Pacific Inc., left. Pigott said they redid the roof and the HVAC system. Now, the 11,000 square foot building houses all the different divisions for ZINC Financial. Each room is decorated with a different antique bicycle, the gears matching the industrial theme. Biking is one of Pigott’s passions. Pigott spends his days looking at market reports, studying how many requests for forbearance are made or how many requests for default are made.  Rather than affordability, what Pigott looks for is liquidity from lenders. In 2005, when affordability was 38%, Pigott said everybody was buying a home. Two years later when affordability was 78%, nobody wanted a home.  “I know for a fact that the value of my collateral is directly related not to affordability but to liquidity on the secondary market,” Pigott said. “Can that person get a loan at a reasonable price?” In his business, he sees a lot of people from all demographics and incomes — major investors to those struggling to get car loans and he says he’s learned a lot of lessons. And through it all, he prefers real estate.  “I can’t fix people with poor credit,” Pigott said. “What I can fix are troubled houses.”

Origo Investments and Amond World LLC. To Break Ground on A Premium Refrigerated Cold Storage Facility

MADERA, CA | June 15, 2022 | Amond World LLC, in conjunction with Origo Investments has
announced their newest endeavor. Amond World, cold storage facilities will break ground on
June 28th at 10:30 am North of 2842 North Golden State Blvd Madera, CA. The groundbreaking
ceremony will feature company representatives, local government, and business leaders.
“Amond World is excited to build and soon deliver a critical component to farmers and
processors,” said Robert Sullivan, Managing Partner of Amond World LLC.

Span Construction & Engineering, Inc., the general contractor for the project, expects the first
building to be completed in spring of 2023. Once that facility building is operational Amond
World LLC and Origo Investments will begin construction of the Phase Two building.
The ground-up development project, is a 250,000 square feet state modern state-of-the-art
refrigerated cold storage facility in the Madera Airport Industrial Park, filling a critical need for
farmers and processors. The storage facility will increase profitability and extend shelf life by up
two years. Once completed, each facility will hold approximately 50 million pounds of bins
and/or finished product.

Robert Sullivan, and Steve Sagouspe, are the Managing Partners of Amond World LLC.. With a
track record of success, Robert and Steve add an immense wealth of knowledge to the project,
overseeing each aspect of their investments, that will allow them to push the project’s success

Lemoore aviators featured in new ‘Top Gun’ movie

The “Top Gun” fever continues at the box office, as the iconic sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” is breaking records past the speed of sound. The movie holds even more significance as aviators stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore actually flew in the movie, helping create those captivating flight scenes playing out on the big screen. When asked if this is the greatest aviation film ever made, NAS Lemoore Commander Kristen Hansen, call sign “Dragon,” says, she’s biased, but yes. “It’s probably the best footage anybody has ever been able to take in a cockpit,” Hansen said. “The cameras they had in the cockpits were just so cool.” Years ago, when Top Gun: Maverick was in the early stages, Hansen was stationed at another base in Fallon, Nevada. Aviators often fly between the two bases.

Hansen was asked to help with scenes of the new Top Gun movie, and so were many pilots at NAS Lemoore. “Pretty much went down the flight line,” Hansen said. “And if we had somebody that was home and available and interested, they asked if they were interested in flying in the movie, and we obviously did not have trouble finding volunteers.”

Hansen also confirms the incredible flight scenes were real, not animated. “Very, very little CGI,” Hansen said. “Pretty much everything was done in an aircraft.” “The CGI that was used was in small instances when it would’ve been unsafe to have the aircraft that close, and in those cases, they filmed the maneuvers and just CGI’d them closer, or they might have added an aircraft.” “If you’re seeing it, an aircraft most likely actually did it.” Hansen’s part was about one week, flying with actress Monica Barbaro and actor Lewis Pullman–who plays a Weapons Systems Officer, or “wizzo,” from Lemoore.

The actors also received training beforehand, including water training simulating being ejected from a jet. “Obviously they’re portraying characters, but the people themselves, pretty much for all the characters you would have in a normal ready room, and they were just so laidback,” Hansen said. The production utilized parts of the base, getting shots along actual training routes from Lemoore to Nevada. All the shots captured in the F-18 Superhornet. “If you’re on the West Coast and you’re flying F-18s,” Hansen said, “You’re in Lemoore.” The real work these aviators do to stay ready for any enemy at any time brought to life on screen.

Hansen believes Paramount really did capture the lives of those who serve the United States. “To be able to showcase the aviation community like that, and hopefully for everyone in the Central Valley to realize that, that’s what’s happening in our backyard all the time, and every single day there’s flights and missions out coming of Lemoore, California,” Hansen said. “That’s really at the heart of it all.”

Jackson Ranch


Jackson Ranch is approximately 415 acres of fully entitled, master planned development along the Interstate 5 and the existing Utica Avenue off-ramp, with a unique integration of industrial, commercial and agricultural centers aligned to create economic growth
As the half-way point between San Francisco and Los Angeles and adjacent to Interstate 5, Jackson Ranch offers visibility to a high volume of existing motorists who pass by annually. Upon completion, the center will be the only stop to offer food, lodging, a truck stop, and service stations within a 39 mile stretch of the freeway.

The site is located within a Federal Opportunity Zone, which was established within economically challenged areas in 2018 to encourage job growth and investment. This designation offers tax incentives over a 10 year period to businesses that locate and expand within this designation area.


Connecticut based holding company Atlas Holdings announced Tuesday that it has acquired Foster Farms, the 83-year-old poultry giant based in Livingston. Foster Farms’ has multiple facilities in the Central Valley, including Fresno, Kerman, Turlock, Caruthers and Porterville. The company, which generates revenues of approximately $3 billion annually, will still operate under the Foster Farms name. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Foster Farms has major processing facilities in California, Washington, Louisiana, Oregon and Alabama and has more than 10,000 employees. Along with news of the acquisition, Atlas also announced that Donnie Smith, former CEO of Tyson Foods from 2009 to 2016, is Foster Farms’ new CEO and chairman. “I love the poultry industry and am proud that Atlas has asked me to become the CEO of Foster Farms,” said Smith. “I’ve long been an admirer of the Foster Family and the business they’ve built over the past eight decades. In this new era, we will maintain and further that legacy, rooted in animal welfare, superior product quality, customer service and community engagement.”

AEMTEK Opens Lab in Central Valley

AEMTEK, a highly esteemed food safety laboratory, and analytical services provider, is opening a new location in Modesto. This facility will bring food safety testing closer to current and future clients in the Central Valley.

Doors Open to AEMTEK’s Modesto Location

AEMTEK will open the doors of its new Central Valley location in Modesto on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022.The new laboratory is located off Kiernan Ave and 108, on Spyres Way. The facility features state-of-the-art equipment to provide companies with routine food safety testing, environmental monitoring testing and consultation, and research services including shelf life, challenge, and validation studies. Dr. Florence Wu, President of AEMTEK Inc., highlighted the importance of AEMTEK’s mission of providing accurate, fast, and reliable services to the region’s food companies. She said that “Food companies rely on AEMTEK’s testing results to make actionable decisions. Operating in Modesto will take us closer to our Central Valley clients, improve turnaround time, and facilitate more client-focused services.”

Serving the Central Valley

The new laboratory will serve the Central Valley food manufacturing community and provide new sample pick-up services to the Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento, and Merced regions. Keeping in line with AEMTEK’s mission, this new laboratory will employ the same focus on data accuracy, fast TATs, and industry-leading customer service for which AEMTEK has been recognized amongst its clients for nearly 20 years. An experienced team of Ph.D. scientists and microbiologists is excited to partner with food manufacturers of the Central Valley to help them achieve their food safety goals and keep the community safe. AEMTEK’s goal is to empower its clients across the U.S. to achieve top-notch food safety programs. The new Central Valley location will allow more companies in the Northern California Area and beyond to benefit from AEMTEK’s unparalleled services.

Private Lab Tours

To celebrate the grand opening, AEMTEK invites new and prospective clients to schedule a private tour of the new facility. To schedule a tour of the laboratory, complete this form. AEMTEK’s Central Valley laboratory will be open Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, with weekend and holiday analysis available upon prior notice. The laboratory will begin accepting samples at this location after its grand opening.


Robinson’s Interiors is moving to a bigger Fresno location, affiliating with Carpet One Floor & Home and having its new grand opening June 4. The company, currently operating as Robinson’s Flooring in River Park, has served flooring customers in the Fresno area since 2009. “We had been looking to become a Carpet One store in Fresno for a number of years,” said Luke Robinson, who manages the store with his brother, Jake Robinson. “When the territory became available, we applied.” Jake added, “We had outgrown our location in Fresno, so the time was ripe to move to a bigger building as well.” They purchased the former Allied Linoleum & Carpet business at 292 W Herndon Ave.

This location and new affiliation will allow them to hire more staff, including in-house labor, and bring in the Carpet One brands. “There’s no better carpet than Relax it’s Lees,” said Jake. “And with the bigger showroom, customers can see, feel, and touch more samples.” Robinson’s Interiors began in Hanford when their father, Mike Robinson, rented a warehouse in downtown Hanford for $35 and a handshake. That was 1980. Since then the Hanford location has served both residential and commercial customers, including large institutions. In the early ‘90s, Mike was frustrated with what he termed the “Wild West” of the flooring business, where too many people were “shooting from the hip.” He was looking for better ways to serve his customers. He noticed some of his contacts, whom he respected, were Carpet One members. He investigated and determined Carpet One was a good fit for his business. Jake recalled his father saying, “They were good people who wanted to do good work.” When Mike opened Robinson’s Flooring in Fresno in 2009, he was unable to open under the Carpet One umbrella because it was unavailable.

Today, there are about 1,100 stores in the co-op, making it the largest co-op in the world. Because they buy under one account, they get significant discounts which are passed on to customers. That means Carpet One stores compete on price with big box stores. Jake added that Carpet One also provides members with access to superior products, state-of-the-art product knowledge, systems, and marketing. He noted the importance of the difference between a co-op and a franchise. “As a co-op we have a lot of resources, but very few requirements. We can be creative.” Mike Robinson passed in 2019, but the family is carrying on the business. Robinson’s Interiors is family-owned and community involvement is important. Their most recent project involved building beds for needy children so they don’t have to sleep on the floor.