West Hills College Lemoore Awards Nearly $200,000 in NSF S-STEM CORES Scholarships

West Hills College Lemoore recently awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM CORES Scholarships to 20 STEM students studying Biology, Engineering, Physics and Math.

The scholarships, valued at up to $10,000 annually per student ($5,000 per semester) for a maximum of four semesters, are part of WHCL’s commitment to developing future STEM leaders, the school stated in a release.

Recipient students will find comprehensive support, including a dedicated faculty mentor and complementary tutoring for courses, monthly cohort meetings and seminars, field trips each semester, and paid research opportunities. Thanks to the scholarship, two students will have the chance to attend conferences a year.

“To be eligible, students must be enrolled at West Hills College Lemoore in a STEM major, exhibit academic dedication, and genuine financial need,” said Kurt Sterling, Dean of Education at WHCL. “Our college wants to make it easier for students to tackle their living expenses and basic needs while focusing on academics. We hope that these scholarships contribute to their success.”
This academic year, the college will distribute nearly $200,000 in NSF S-STEM CORES Scholarships, half of which is being disbursed today. A second distribution is planned for the next semester.

“The access to SI tutors, myriad STEM opportunities, and activities have been invaluable. I’m also grateful for the MESA program and future internship opportunities,” said Emily Rocha, a WHCL Biology sophomore and first-time recipient.

Next year, Rocha plans to transfer to a four-year university, aiming for a healthcare career.

The president of WHCL, James Preston, added, “Our mission is to remove barriers and provide opportunities. These scholarships are more than just financial aid; they invest in our students’ futures and potential to contribute to the STEM community.”



A Wyoming-based corporation has received a $15 million state grant to relocate its headquarters to Fresno, where it plans to manufacture semiconductors and energy storage systems. In the process, the company plans to create at least 500 new, full-time jobs and make nearly $21 million of capital investments in the region.

Tynergy was one of a dozen companies awarded nearly $150 million in grants and tax credits as part of the latest round of the CalCompetes program by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development announced Nov. 17. The announcement comes weeks after members of the Fresno City Council and Fresno County Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Will Oliver hosted a City Hall news conference announcing the Fresno CHIPS Act.

The proposal would create incentives for manufacturers of semiconductors. The Fresno County Economic Development Corp. said in a social media post that Tynergy plans to offer starting salaries of $70,000 per year, complementary training programs and a “robust” benefits package, including childcare services for all employees.

Tynergy is a subsidiary of Indonesia-based green energy company Mirah Green. It bills itself as a sustainable energy development company with a goal to “eradicate poverty through affordable and clean energy while taking climate action.”


CapRock breaks ground on Visalia location

VISALIA – On Aug. 24, CapRock Partners announced their groundbreaking of Building I, a 1.27-million-square-foot industrial warehouse development that will provide 100s of jobs once it finishes construction in the third quarter of 2024. The construction of this facility is part of CapRock’s Central Point masterplan, which upon completion will total up to 5-million-square-feet of logistical distribution space to lease to various companies likely to fall under the “fortune 100 banner;” such as companies like, or akin to, Amazon or UPS.

While CapRock doesn’t currently have a tennent set to occupy the space – which began construction this summer – the facility will allow its occupant to reach over 50 million customers with one-day ground shipping.

“CapRock is excited to be underway in constructing the first building at CapRock Central Point III in Visalia, a vibrant industrial market and logistics hub providing unmatched connectivity in the heart of California’s Central Valley,” CapRock’s senior vice president Bob O’Neill said in a press release.

As Visalia is located approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles and 230 miles south of San Francisco, it has become a hub of logistical distribution spaces. The city’s industrial park is already occupied by prominent companies such as UPS, Amazon and FedEx.

However, location isn’t the only thing Visalia has to offer. According to O’Neill, the layout of the city itself makes the implementation of facilities such as Building I more practical.

“The city of Visalia is actually one of the best planned cities in the state of California, as far as their master plan,” O’Neill said in an interview with The Sun-Gazette. “They’ve invested heavily in the infrastructure to service these industrial areas, in order of widening streets and providing great access to the 99 freeway and Highway 198.”

Not only does Visalia’s infrastructure benefit the developing facilities and their future effectiveness, it also benefits the city itself.

“Once Building I is completed, the new property tax bases will benefit the city, as opposed to what it was before with just farmland,” O’Neill said.
Should CapRock deem the area as highly desired, they will move forward with the implementation of construction of three other buildings, which will bring more jobs and more tax funds.
“It’s all going to be driven by market demand in the overall economy,” O’Neill said. “So if (Building I) leases during construction, and we’re seeing robust demand that’ll warrant us proceeding with these other three buildings, we will go ahead and do that.”

Building I — along with the rest of Central Point III — will be located at 4001 N. Plaza Drive, adjacent to the 88 acres of land CapRock previously sold to UPS for the development of one of the logistics company’s largest facilities in the Western U.S. CapRock has various other facilities around California as well as in other states such as Nevada, Arizona and Texas. They are an investment and development organization that hopes to continue spreading west and up the coast to create more distribution centers to allow people faster access to various products and services.


Despite the negative impacts from the closure of Madera Community Hospital to kick off 2023, the region saw continued growth with the promise of more in 2024 and beyond. Madera has always been known for having low industrial vacancy rates. For 2023, that extended to retail.

“This year we’ve had a tight retail commercial real estate market,” said Madera County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Darren Rose.

Rose added that in 2023, the county saw only 1-3% of commercial real estate plots available. The industrial real estate market also proved to have a tight 2023, limiting options for potential warehouse and logistic center expansion.

“There’s not a lot of options for retailers to locate,” he said.

Despite the challenge, 2024 looks to add more commercial real estate space up and down Highway 41, with industrial and commercial lots at Tesoro Viejo coming online this year, as well as developments of new commercial areas near Highway 41 and Road 200 as well as west near Highway 99 and Avenue 17. Rose hopes that 2024 brings more commercial and industrial investors to the area; he said that the continued development of both the Tesoro Viejo and Riverstone communities are playing a key factor in attracting potential investors.

Both neighborhoods are nationally recognized as lifestyle communities — residential builds in which residents share interest in similar social, recreational and fitness activities — something that Rose said is attractive to commercial developers.

“It’s been brought up in a couple of discussions with site selectors — the fact that we have those two new communities as well as a lot of other important developments throughout Madera Ranchos and other developments,” he said. “Tesoro is just a beautiful, well thought out area.”

Rose said that the continued expansion is bringing the Rio Mesa Plan to life. The plan, first introduced around 30 years ago, focuses on a mixture of residential, commercial and industrial zoning. The continued growth next year is echoed by Mike Prandini, president and CEO of the Building Industry Association of Fresno/Madera Counties. Homebuilding continues at Riverstone and Tesoro Viejo, which has space for nearly 12,000 new homes combined.

Madera’s development, in this regard, is unique to these master planned communities; Fresno is not able to develop in the same way because of the state’s new “vehicle miles traveled” metric, which determines the environmental impact of new housing developments.

Farther up Highway 99, the AutoZone distribution center is scheduled to open in 2024 and looks to bring around 350 new jobs to the area, in addition to employment opportunities through companies like PG&E and the construction of California’s High Speed Rail project. Rose hopes an improving economy will play a key role in driving some of these developments, citing the recent weeks’ uptick in the condition of inflation rates.

“As the macro-national environment improves, I think everything goes downstream from that — from interest rates and inflationary concerns,” Rose said, adding that as the rates continue to go down more secure interest will be focused on industrial, commercial and retail projects.

“I think that’s a safe thing to say,” he added. “I’m not saying there’s a lot of money parked on the sidelines. But if you read the Wall Street Journal you can pretty much garner that there’s a lot of money parked on the sidelines because firms, banks — they’re waiting to see what unfolds with the economy.”

Overall, despite 2023 presenting new and unpredictable challenges through the economy and mother nature, Rose said that the outlook for 2024 is promising, stressing Madera County government’s business-friendly attitude.

“That’s been one of my best selling points,” Rose said. “Obviously, government processes, they take time, but those entities want to make it possible to get deals moving forward.”

Rose also mentioned the partnership between the Madera County EDC and PG&E, which is making considerable investments in human workforce, as well as infrastructure expansion, which will help businesses continue to grow.

“We’ve made headway; it’s not perfect, we’ve had delays, but PG&E is doing what it takes in order to serve our business and our residential communities,” he said.

In addition to the partnership with PG&E, Rose stressed Madera County’s potential in another key commodity that the county possesses: land. Through government programs outlined by the State of California, the county is poised to see job growth thanks largely in part to the available land for projects to be built on.

“With the governor’s California Jobs First…those primary focuses are job creation — creating the foundation necessary to help garner job growth,” Rose said, adding that the initiative will expand infrastructure necessary for continued job creation.

While always welcoming new businesses, Rose said that the EDC’s primary “bread and butter” for job growth is already established.

“The fastest way forward for us are our local businesses that are expanding,” he said.


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.


Another Industrial Tenant Signs at Tejon Ranch in Southern California

Another industrial tenant is moving its operations to part of the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center (TRCC) on the biggest piece of private land in California. The joint venture of Tejon Ranch Company and Majestic Realty Company announced Tuesday that CSW Industrials’ RectorSeal, which manufactures heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and plumbing products, is moving from Los Angeles into half of a 480,000-square-foot facility at the expansive master-planned development in southwestern Kern County. The asking rent and lease rate were not disclosed.

The developer said it has secured more than 2.5 million square feet of industrial leases at TRCC over the past 24 months. The 1,450-acre development is at the junction of Interstate 5 and Highway 99, about an hour north of the L.A. basin. It’s also home to distribution centers for tenants that include Ikea, Camping World, Caterpillar, Dollar General, Famous Footwear and L’Oréal.

Last month, Tejon Ranch Company announced it closed a $160 million unsecured revolving credit facility with AgWest Farm Credit to fund construction projects, farming and ranching operations, and pay for general corporate expenses.

JLL (JLL)’s Mike McCrary, Mac Hewett, Brent Weirick and Peter McWilliams manage the TRCC listing and represented the landlords on the RectorSeal transaction. Walt Chenoweth and Sean Sullivan with Voit Real Estate Services represented RectorSeal.



When Ashley Furniture moved into a 525,000 square foot facility on South Harlan Road in 2018, it’s doubtful that they had planned on outgrowing the facility in just five years.

But that’s exactly what has happened.

Last month, the Lathrop City Council approved a conditional use permit for the company’s proposed expansion – which was temporarily shelved after community concern during a public hearing prompted further review – that will allow for the construction of a nearly 1.5 million square foot concrete tilt-up building on Dos Reis Road. The company’s existing 525,000 square foot building – 50,000 square feet of which is utilized as a furniture showroom and retail store – on South Harlan Road will eventually be vacated and put up for either lease or sale.

There will be 110,000 square feet of showroom space in the new 1.5 million square-foot building. It will include the largest Ashley Homestore in the region coming in at 110,000 square feet — just 6,641 square feet less than the Living Spaces showroom in Manteca at Union Road and the 120 Bypass. It will also be the largest distribution center ever built in Lathrop. By comparison, the Wayfair distribution center in Lathrop has 1.1 million square feet.

Because Dos Reis Road runs along the back side of Lathrop High School, and because the land in the area was designated for a new use in the general plan update adopted by the council earlier this year, members of the community raised concerns about the impact of truck traffic in the area and the proximity to students attending school at Lathrop High.

According to the staff report and presentation prepared for the council, the property will be roughly 1,500 feet from the property of the high school – with a green belt of undeveloped land between the two – at its closest point, and an extensive landscape buffer that will ultimately provide more than 388,000 square feet of landscaped to create a cushion between the two competing uses.

All truck traffic, according to the Central Lathrop Specific Plan and outlined in the documents prepared for the Ashley project, must access the site from north of Dos Reis Road – including Manthey Road, Roth Road, and I-5. As a condition of approval, the applicant must install signage on Lathrop Road, Spartan Way, Golden Valley Parkway, Dos Reis Road, and Manthey Road to the south of the north driveway to the property that clearly prohibits trucks from using that route.

Onsite signage must also be posted on the site that prohibits trucks from turning right on Manthey Road when leaving the site – sending all trucks north to Roth Road where they can access I-5. One of the additional conditions of approval will be the applicant constructing a roundabout at the intersection of Dos Reis Road and Golden Valley Parkway – serving as an “enhanced gateway” to the area and featuring monumentation, enhanced landscaping, lighting, and other associated elements.

Pedestrian actuated flashing warning lights are also stipulated as a condition.


Costco is opening a new store in Stanislaus County. Here’s where and when it will open

After years of shoppers wishing and hoping for one, a new Costco store is coming to Riverbank’s planned Crossroads West shopping center. Work has begun on the site of the new retail complex, on the corner of Claribel and Oakdale roads, across from the existing Crossroads Regional Shopping Center. The retailer will serve as the anchor for the new development, which will include other businesses and restaurants on the 555,000-square-foot property.

The wholesale shopping juggernaut already has two locations in Stanislaus County, one in Modesto on Pelandale Avenue and one in Turlock on Tegner Road. But rumors and wishful thinking about another Costco coming to the region have been circulating for years, particularly since 2019, when plans for the Crossroads West companion development were approved. Walnut Creek-based Browman Development Co., the same firm behind the popular existing Crossroads shopping center, is overseeing the commercial development of Crossroads West. The site takes up the northwest corner of the busy intersection that was home to Dutch Hollow Farms before the project began moving forward. The farm attraction since has moved to a new site off Milnes Road.

“It’s huge, I mean, obviously from a sales tax perspective, it’s huge for any town to have a Costco,” said Browman leasing agent Will Bettencourt. “It really solidified this area, this intersection, as the regional shopping destination for those nearby towns. It’s big.”

Crews are doing initial work on the property, including grading and leveling. Bettencourt said to expect the groundwork to go on for a few months, followed by a few months of site and utility work. Then later in the year, he said, Costco is expected to begin work on the building, with an anticipated opening mid-2024. The Riverbank location is expected to be around the same size as the area’s other facilities, about 150,000 square feet. The store also is expected to be the first tenant to open in the shopping complex. Now that Costco has signed on, Bettencourt said he expects other retailers to follow shortly.

Browman is targeting other shops, sit-down and drive-thru restaurants, clothing sellers, banks and fitness centers for the soon-to-be-built spaces. Initial plans for the multi-use development also include an apartment complex of more than 200 units. But Bettencourt said final plans for any residential component are still in the works, and initial construction would be a good year and a half to two years away. That housing would be separate from the nearly 2,000-home subdivision planned on the 380-acre plot just north of the Costco site. The new housing development, which is part of the larger Crossroads West Specific Plan, broke ground in early 2021. Since then, about 75 homes have been completed or started out of planned 114 single-family homes that will be part of the subdivision’s first phase, said FCB Homes President Tom Doucette.

The Stockton-based developer said the next phase, which should start sometime next year, would build an additional 114 single-family units to the south of Westgate Drive (formerly Crawford Road). Currently, all of the existing homes are to the north of the street. The second phase will also include a 40,000-square-foot park. Riverbank City Councilman Luis Uribe said the Costco news was welcome. The city, he said, should get ready for changes with the arrival of the major retailer, which reported $222.7 billion in net sales for the 2022 fiscal year.

“My goal is to ensure a balanced and thriving community in Riverbank. Having a mix of residential and commercial areas is important for the overall development and sustainability of the city,” he said in a written comment on Costco news. “By supporting new businesses and downtown establishments, you are contributing to the local economy and creating opportunities for growth.”

The new Crossroads West commercial expansion will be 5,000 square feet larger than its across-the-street companion retail center. The original Crossroads opened in 2005, and last year completed work on the final undeveloped pad in the complex. A new El Pollo Loco opened across from Red Robin in that space early last year. Expect a similarly long build-out for the new Crossroads West commercial development, Bettencourt said. Initial plans for the companion development had a 20-year time frame to finish the entire project. Work on the retail complex, which initially hoped to have a 2020 opening, was delayed by several years because of the pandemic and other factors.

City officials and Browman representatives will have a groundbreaking ceremony July 11 at the site, in preparation for the new Costco.