New behavioral health and human services building opens

A new Kings County Behavioral Health and Human Services building that will house over 100 county employees in 45,000 square feet was unveiled Wednesday morning.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday was emceed by Kings County Supervisor Joe Neves and featured speeches from representatives from Kings County administration, Kings County Behavioral Health and Kings County Human Services.

“On behalf of my colleagues on the board of supervisors, both past and present, we are so proud to stand here today and officially open the Kings County Behavioral Health and Human Services Building,” Neves said. “We are grateful to our community for their patience and support as we have navigated the long process to get here today.”

The Old Hospital was constructed in 1911 but eventually closed until 1973. Rather than demolishing the building in 2014, Kings County decided to repurpose the building through a remodel sales lease agreement.

The new building will house the Behavioral Department’s Administrative Offices, Children’s Psychiatric Services, the KIND Center children’s outpatient clinic and Human Services adult programs like their Adult Protective Services and In Home Supportive Services.

UC Merced Medical Education Building Gains Final Approval from UC Regents

At their Nov. 15 meeting, the Regents of the University of California gave final approval for the construction of a new medical education building at UC Merced. The vote approved the final design, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) findings and the full budget and financing.

The four-story building, designed by the firm ZGF, will feature 203,500 square feet of instructional, academic office, research and community-facing space and common areas. The project has a price tag of $300 million, funded by a combination of state General Fund appropriations, the campus budget and donor gifts.

“We are very pleased by the Regents’ show of support for medical education at UC Merced,” said UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz. “The lack of quality healthcare options in the region is well-documented, and this new building will enable UC Merced to train physicians uniquely qualified to address the Valley’s health needs.”

The new facility will be home to UC Merced’s medical education pathway, which was developed in partnership with UCSF and UCSF Fresno. The first cohort of students began classes this fall. It will also house:

● The departments of Psychological Sciences and Public Health

● The Health Sciences Research Institute

● Allied healthcare-related programs (developed in partnership with community colleges)

● A range of medical education and general assignment learning environments

● Specialty learning spaces for medical education, general assignment classrooms, and class laboratories to support several new and existing academic programs

This project will comply with the University of California Sustainable Practices Policy, which establishes goals for green building, clean energy, transportation, climate protection, facilities operations, zero waste, procurement, food service and water systems. Supporting UC Merced’s carbon neutrality status, the building will be run entirely on clean electricity, without the use of natural gas.

Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2024 with completion slated for fall 2026. Current growth projections show the facility serving approximately 2,220 undergraduates by 2030.

H2B2 Electrolysis Technologies Unveils SoHyCal, the First Operational Green Hydrogen Plant in North America

Fresno, Calif. (November 1) – H2B2 Electrolysis Technologies, Inc. (H2B2), a global vertically integrated provider of green hydrogen energy solutions across the hydrogen value chain, today unveils SoHyCal – the largest operational green hydrogen production plant powered entirely by renewable energy in North America to date.

This pioneering project, from both a technical and commercial point of view, consists of the construction, financing, and operation of a 100% renewable hydrogen production plant with PEM technology, with a nameplate capacity of up to three tons per day, using renewable energy from a photovoltaic plant.

“In the quest for a greener energy transition, SoHyCal represents a cornerstone in California’s commitment to developing and promoting clean and sustainable hydrogen fuel technologies. The project is poised to significantly contribute to the surging demand for hydrogen, particularly for transportation applications, the reduction of emissions, and the decarbonization in mobility,” said Pedro Pajares, CEO of H2B2 USA.

SoHyCal Production and Scale

SoHyCal is fully operational in its first phase, harnessing the power of renewable energy and cutting-edge electrolysis technology, producing up to one ton per day of green hydrogen powered by biogas It will transition into solar energy in phase two, expected to produce a total of three tons per day of green hydrogen powered by PV by Q2 of 2025. This amount of hydrogen will fuel up to 210,000 cars per year or 30,000 city buses.

SoHyCal Background

H2B2 secured a $3.96M grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) Clean Transportation Program for the SoHyCal project. This grant has been instrumental in supporting the production of up to one ton (1t) per day of 100% emission-free hydrogen to serve Hydrogen Refueling Stations in the San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Fresno County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has also been a key partner in making the SoHyCal project a reality, playing a pivotal role in facilitating H2B2’s journey toward building the largest green hydrogen production facility in the United States. H2B2 is a proud member and supporter of The Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), with SoHyCal an example of the type of projects the hub can promote.

H2B2’s SoHyCal Project was recognized by the Hydrogen Valley Platform (H2V), the global collaboration platform for all information on large-scale hydrogen flagship projects, as a project that aims to facilitate a clean energy transition by promoting the emergence of integrated hydrogen projects along the value chain as well as by raising awareness among policymakers.

H2B2 Powering the Hydrogen Economy

The green hydrogen market is viewed as having significant potential, with forecasts indicating it could reach a value of $10T by 2030. This growth is expected to be driven by various sectors, including industrial use, mobility, power generation, and more. H2B2 is accepting government grants and public funding as a unique offering of project guarantees (PG) setting H2B2 apart, and instilling confidence in their investors and customers alike.

H2B2 operates within a regulatory framework aligned with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and complies with various federal, state, and local regulations and requirements. This regulatory framework plays a crucial role in shaping their operations and growth.

To learn more about H2B2, the SoHyCal facility, or get an up-close look at the advances in technology and processes behind renewable hydrogen production, visit their website or follow them on LinkedIn. H2B2 will consider scheduling facility tours of the SoHyCal plant to select organizations with industry interest; contact them at:

About H2B2 Electrolysis Technologies

H2B2 Electrolysis Technologies is a global green hydrogen platform that provides bespoke integrated solutions to its customers across the whole hydrogen value chain and covering all business scales. H2B2’s customer-centric, one-stop-shop offering enables seamless and effective support through the entire lifecycle of a hydrogen production facility (including the identification of the opportunity, R&D, design, permitting, construction, and operation services for the exploitation of the hydrogen facility), and complete solutions for transportation, storage, and sale of green hydrogen.


Nine Central Valley companies scratched out a spot on the 2023 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in the U.S.

National business magazine Inc. ranked participating private companies on three-year revenue growth — from 2019 to 2022 — for this year’s list. The minimum revenue required for 2019 is $100,000; the minimum for 2022 is $2 million.

To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2019. They must be U.S.-based, privately held, for-profit and independent — not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies — as of Dec. 31, 2022.

The annual list of 5,000 U.S. firms reflects companies with the greatest impact on the U.S. economy, according to Inc. They reported a combined $358 billion in 2022 revenue and created more than 1.1 million jobs.

“Overall, median revenue growth for the top 500 com­panies in 2022 ticked up to 2,238 percent from 2,144 percent the previous year,” according to Inc. “Those metrics add up to a lot of very determined entrepreneurs looking for solutions to the biggest problems facing us today.”

Fresno’s Empower Solar logged in at No. 78 on the list with three-year revenue growth of 5,981%. Under the leadership of Landon Wimmer, the company founded in 2019 is a residential and small business solar installation company.

The following local companies also made the Inc. 5000 list for 2023.

No. 535
Balanced Comfort
1,094% growth

No. 1,571
EZ ELD Solutions
363% growth
Logistics & transportation

No. 1,843
Sierra Pacific Group
304% growth
Business products and services

No. 3,072
169% growth
Health services

No. 3,078
EKC Enterprises
168% growth
Business products and services

No. 3,434
Clark Bros.
145% growth

No. 4,054
Anderson Real Estate Group
113% growth
Real estate

No. 4,509
Lee’s Air, Plumbing, & Heating
93% growth

Heirloom unveils America’s first commercial Direct Air Capture facility

TRACY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, Heirloom, alongside President Biden’s Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm, announced the United States’ first commercial Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility, which will use limestone rocks to pull already-emitted CO2 from Earth’s atmosphere in an effort to mitigate the impacts of global climate change. The announcement highlights Heirloom’s rapid technical and business progress and marks a critical milestone for both America and California’s leadership in the race to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius.

Located in Tracy, California, the facility is being formally unveiled today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Secretary Granholm, California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Koulanakis, the CEO of PG&E Corporation, the head of the California State Building Trades Union, the City of Tracy, elected officials, and community members.

Today’s announcement represents the first DAC facility in the United States to capture CO2, permanently sequester it, and fulfill commercial removal purchases – supporting and helping to cement the leadership of both the United States and State of California to deploy critical climate solutions to meet net zero commitments.

“Heirloom Carbon Technologies, right here in Tracy, California, is the blueprint for how America can beat climate change,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M Granholm, speaking at the official unveiling ceremony.

“This first commercial direct air capture facility is the closest thing on Earth that we have to a time machine, because it can turn back the clock on climate change by removing carbon dioxide that has already been emitted into our atmosphere,” said Heirloom’s CEO and Co-Founder, Shashank Samala. “The capacity of Heirloom’s limestone-based technology to capture CO2 from the air has gone from 1 kilogram of CO2 to up to one million, or 1000 metric tons, in just over two years. We owe it to every climate vulnerable citizen to continue to deploy our technology at the urgent pace required to reach billion-ton scale and beyond in time to stop the worst of climate change.”

“We’ve set ambitious, nation-leading climate goals to cut pollution and accelerate our transition to clean energy,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “Projects like this Heirloom facility are exactly the sort of big and innovative ideas that we’re embracing – using renewable energy to directly remove pollution from our air, all while creating good-paying jobs in the Central Valley. California is creating the model for expanding the economy and fighting climate change.”

This first-of-its-kind domestic DAC facility helps to advance President Biden’s 2050 net-zero goal and California Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2045 state net-zero targets.

Fully powered by renewable energy – supplied locally by Ava Community Energy – and constructed with union labor, Heirloom’s Tracy facility has been operational for nearly 1,000 hours and is actively capturing atmospheric CO2, which will be permanently sequestered in concrete through a partnership with CarbonCure Technologies. The facility has a capture capacity of up to 1,000 tons of CO2 per year and will deliver net removals to early, catalytic buyers of Heirloom’s CO2 removal credits, including Microsoft, Stripe, Shopify, and Klarna.

This facility was constructed and is being operated consistent with Heirloom’s recently-outlined principles for the responsible deployment of carbon removal – which include commitments that no carbon dioxide removed will be used for enhanced oil recovery and that no equity will be granted to companies whose core business is the production of oil and gas. The Tracy facility was constructed with union labor – in partnership with local affiliates of the State Building Trade Union, including UA Plumbers & Pipefitters (Local 442) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW 595) – demonstrating that green jobs can also be good quality jobs.

Heirloom also announced today a community governance model, which kicks off a process in January of 2024 where community groups will be convened by nonprofits — across the City of Tracy and the broader San Joaquin County — with a mission to bring together the climate technology industry and local concerned citizens. Via quarterly meetings, this process will gather routine community feedback on the facility and its operations and help to steer input for how Heirloom will provide financial and programmatic investments in community organizations.

This first commercial facility demonstrates the rapid pace at which Heirloom’s technology and business has developed since its founding in 2020. Just two years ago, the company – which uses limestone to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere – was conducting experiments in the lab to capture grams of CO2 in a petri dish. Since then, Heirloom has become one of the leading DAC companies in the world. The company raised a $53 million Series A in 2022, with backing from some of the world’s leading climate investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Earlier this year, Heirloom and CarbonCure pioneered the world’s first-ever demonstration of DAC-to-concrete storage – an important, immediately-available storage pathway that is being used to sequester CO2 captured by the Tracy facility. In August, Heirloom and other partners were selected for one of the largest projects under the Biden Administration’s DAC Hub program, with eligibility for up to $600 million in federal funding for a DAC facility in Louisiana. And in September, Heirloom and Microsoft announced one of the largest CO2 removal deals to date, with Microsoft agreeing to purchase up to 315,000 metric tons of CO2 removal from Heirloom over a 10+ year period.

Heirloom’s technology works by using limestone, an abundant, easy-to-source and inexpensive material, to pull CO2 from the air. Using a renewable-energy-powered kiln, the limestone is heated to extract the CO2, leaving a mineral powder that is thirsty to absorb more CO2. This powder is then spread onto vertically stacked trays where it acts like a sponge – pulling CO2 from the air. Once saturated with CO2, the material is returned to the kiln, the CO2 is extracted, and the process begins again. The captured CO2 gas is then permanently stored safely underground or embedded in concrete.

By using easy-to-source materials like limestone, harnessing the power of algorithms to increase the capture capacity of that material, and scaling with modularity, Heirloom’s technology represents one of the lowest cost pathways to permanent CO2 removal. The company’s goal is to remove 1 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2035 – a figure which represents 20% of today’s annual U.S. emissions and 10% of global carbon removal needed annually by 2050.



“California continues to lead the world toward a clean energy future. With the opening of Heirloom’s facility, California is the first state in the nation where CO2 will be permanently and durably removed from the atmosphere through Direct Air Capture and the first among nations to store atmospheric CO2 in concrete, supporting construction projects across the state,” said California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. “As a California-born company, Heirloom has helped us achieve an incredible milestone that further cements our state as a global climate leader and brings us closer to achieving our goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.”


“Tracy is no stranger to the impacts of climate change, so we are excited to make history by welcoming Heirloom’s first commercial direct air capture facility to our community. Not only have they brought innovative technology to Tracy to scrub our air of pollution, but they have also sponsored the planting of additional trees to enhance our urban forest. We are proud to be part of the solution when it comes to the impacts of climate change, as advancing ‘green projects’ and supporting climate initiatives are consistent with the goals set by our City Council to improve our quality of life here in Tracy.”


“Here in California, our customers and hometowns are experiencing the impacts of climate change now. All of us need to be a part of the solution to not only help reach net zero emissions but to begin to heal the planet. That’s why we’re proud to enable innovative projects like Heirloom’s direct air capture facility in Tracy, supporting our shared, statewide goals for a decarbonized future.”


“Last year, I authored Senate Bill 905 to power the deployment of carbon removal projects, enable its infrastructure, and develop smart regulations. Today, we bear witness to how such projects are coming to life in California, removing greenhouse gas emissions from our atmosphere, while ensuring our state’s strict environmental standards,” said State Senator Anna Caballero. “What’s on display in Tracy, underscores that California’s climate policy is catalyzing private-sector-led and government-enabled solutions, which honor the scientific consensus that we must cut emissions and remove climate-harming carbon. We can achieve our goals, create environmental and economic benefit because of the partnership between our local communities, government, and industry.”


“Carbon removal is necessary to get California and the world to net zero and start restoring a safe climate, and our state has a vital role to play when it comes to enabling the very carbon removal markets and clean-energy transformation that we need. Here at Heirloom, we see tremendous progress and they are doing it right: powered by clean energy and creating high-tech, good quality, green jobs in our state. We must continue to accelerate this progress by passing legislation to establish carbon removal markets that can drive demand for carbon removal and mobilize financing of many more projects like this.”


“Building Trades’ craftspeople brought this groundbreaking facility to life and our skilled and trained members are leading the way in building and supporting carbon capture innovation across the state and country. We are meeting the climate crisis by supporting technology like Heirloom’s direct air capture as well as hydrogen, biofuels, offshore wind and battery storage. We are training the next generation of skilled construction worker in these exciting technologies. California is renowned worldwide for both our innovation and our hard working, highly trained construction workforce—both of which you see reflected in this important project.”

Niagara Bottling’s Proposed New Manufacturing Project In Delano, California

Niagara Bottling would like to invest in Delano by building a manufacturing facility that will create local employment opportunities, drive direct capital investment in the area and reinforce the City’s position as a manufacturing leader in the bottled beverage market. Niagara’s future employment in Delano, when fully built out, will be approximately 120 full-time positions with average wages between $58,000 to $60,000, not including overtime, bonuses or benefits. The capital investment is estimated to be up to $160 million and is expected to generate approximately $343,000 in annual tax revenues for the City of Delano.

Who We Are

Niagara Bottling has been family owned and operated since 1963. Headquartered in Diamond Bar, California, Niagara operates bottling facilities throughout the U.S. and Mexico. As a leading beverage manufacturer in the U.S., Niagara Bottling works closely with some of the largest beverage brands, retailers, grocers, club and convenience stores throughout the country. Niagara produces a variety of beverages including bottled water, sparkling, vitamin and flavored water, teas, sports drinks, ready-to-drink coffee, protein drinks and non-dairy milk products.

Our Commitment to Community

At Niagara, we are committed to making a positive impact on society and our communities. As part of this commitment, our local teams place an emphasis on supporting areas of education, emergency need, community beautification, environment, and health and wellness. We are proud to partner with community leaders and charitable organizations that are making a meaningful difference in the world and in the areas where our facilities are located.

Our Focus on Sustainability

Niagara is committed to responsible resource usage and integrating sustainability into every aspect of our business. Niagara has an obligation to not only support environmental initiatives, but to innovate and lead in their product, packaging, manufacturing, and promoting consumer awareness and action on sustainability issues. Here’s how Niagara is putting sustainability first:

  1. Water Stewardship: A Niagara facility uses less water to produce its products than it takes to keep a few golf courses green. Niagara pays volumetric fees for the water it uses and millions in taxes and fees to municipal systems that enable them to maintain and improve their infrastructure.
  2. Packaging Efficiency: Niagara uses the least amount of plastic for its bottles.
  3. Lowest Environmental Impact: Niagara PET bottles have a lower environmental impact across most impact categories when compared to other common beverage and water packaging types. Our half-liter bottles have an embodied carbon footprint that is 46% below the U.S. average.
  4. Recycling Infrastructure and Education: Niagara supports recycling education through International Bottled Water Association’s “Put it in the Bin” campaign and the “Keep the Cap On” campaign.