Category: Back Office

T-Mobile begins construction on Kingsburg call center

After more than two years of discussions between T-Mobile and the city of Kingsburg, the wireless carrier is moving forward with construction at the former Kmart. T-Mobile is building the Central Valley Customer Experience Center (CEC), a call center serving customers in the western region of the U.S. It’s slated to open to employees in 2022 and is expected to create about 1,000 new jobs. “It’s a big deal for Kingsburg,” said Alexander Henderson, the city manager of Kingsburg. “Certainly, it’s a big deal for Fresno County, and you know it’s a big deal for the Central Valley overall.”

The facility will become one of the largest employers in Kingsburg alongside Sun-Maid Raisins.

https://abc30.com/t-mobile-kingsburg-call-center/10489232/#:~:text=%20KINGSBURG%2C%20Calif.%20%28KFSN%29%20–%20After%20more%20than,customers%20in%20the%20western%20region%20of%20the%20U.S.

How California’s Central Valley is working to become tech hot spot

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.”

Alcazar agrees.

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

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/03/11/how-californias-central-valley-working-become-tech-hot-spot-column/6936506002/

Nautilus: transforming the data center industry

Nautilus Data Technologies is a global pioneer in water-cooled data centers and is leading a global transformation to ultra-efficient, high-performance and environmentally sustainable operations in the data center sector.

James Connaughton is the CEO at Nautilus. Having joined the organisation in March 2016, he has overseen the implementation of the world’s first water-cooled and water-borne data center with Nautilus. “There are two essential features,” explains Connaughton. “The first and most important feature is cooling with naturally cold water, which is how all other major infrastructure sectors address the large amounts of heat generated by their systems. These include, for example, thermal power plants, ships, industrial processing facilities, and paper mills. Only data centers, generate heat at a similar industrial scale, still use massive and unsustainable air-cooling systems. The second feature is mobility–the ability to prefabricate the data center in large modules, and either assemble them onto a barge and deliver it fully ready to go, or transport the modules to a prepared site for rapid assembly. Placing essential infrastructure on barges—such as energy barges and water treatment barges–is a well-established model for enabling rapid and flexible access to such infrastructure in fast growing and emerging markets. The opportunity and need is equally strong today when it comes to providing access to digital infrastructure to those who currently lack it.”

Connaughton believes data centers are the newest and most important component of critical infrastructure that sustains and enriches the lives of people around the world. “Data centers now stand alongside power generation, drinking-water plants, waste-water plants, roads and other critical infrastructure that allows society to function and create good outcomes for people,” he explains. “Access to the water molecule and the electron has long been vitally important. Worldwide access to the photon for data delivery is the next essential piece.” Over the past two years, Connaughton has overseen the development of the company’s first full-scale commercial facility, which provides six megawatts of water-cooled data center capacity on a barge. He strives for an innovative approach across all his operations. “We’ve been on the arc of creative invention and cleverly practical engineering to make that a reality,” says Connaughton. “The first part of our company’s life has focused on building a functional prototype, and then using that experience to make the thousands of decisions of what not to do against the several hundred decisions of what to do in bringing a full scale facility into being. We’re really excited to be commissioning that data center in California in just a few weeks time.”

Nautilus is planning to develop facilities in North America, Europe and Asia, and has been contacted by potential partners to pursue projects in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. “Once our data center in North Carolina is up and running, we look forward to onboarding a great set of anchor customers,” says Connaughton. “We will show the world the ultra-efficiency, high-performance, and the strong sustainability of our approach. After that, we are ready to rapidly move into other locations to “productize” the technology and we look forward to partnering through joint ventures and technology licensing so that we can get this important technology out into the world as quickly as possible.”

https://www.technologymagazine.com/brochure/nautilus-transforming-data-center-industry

BITWISE CEO SEEKS TO HIRE 100-PLUS FOR DATA ENTRY

The CEO of Bitwise is putting out a call to hire more than 100 temporary data entry contractors who will work from home. Irma L. Olguin Jr. said in a Facebook post Friday afternoon that the workers would support efforts of Bitwise Industries, its web development arm Shift3 Technologies and mobile restaurant ordering app Ordrslip in “building things to help feed the elderly, save restaurants from going out of business and to help folks who’ve lost jobs regain employment.” The temporary (“could be days or weeks”) positions would be 40 hours a week and pay $15 per hour. Employment would be on a contract basis. Applicants must have their own computer, reliable Internet access and be able to type at reasonable speed, Olguin said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/virus-diaries-bitwise-ceo-seeks-to-hire-100-plus-for-data-entry/#:~:text=The%20CEO%20of%20Bitwise%20is,who%20will%20work%20from%20home.&text=Employment%20would%20be%20on%20a%20contract%20basis.

Bitwise Industries Selects Merced as Newest City In Growing Tech Ecosystem

Fresno-based technology hub Bitwise Industries announced on Tuesday it is expanding to the North Valley. Their building in the heart of downtown Merced at Main and M streets is vacant right now, but it will soon be transformed into the newest Bitwise facility. Company representatives say this is the perfect location for many different reasons.

https://abc30.com/business/bitwise-opening-new-location-in-merced/5764181/

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

Plans are underway for a major repurposing project to host a micro brewery, tech office space, among other possibilities, for the 1918 building at 736 Fulton Street. A stretch of Fulton Street in downtown Fresno is getting a lot of love lately. It’s about to get some more. A brick building estimated to be 101 years old at 736 Fulton St., across the street from the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co.’s beer garden, has new owners. They are in the process of renovating the building, with plans to rent space out to businesses.

https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article237729149.html?

VALLEY’S FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES SHINE BRIGHT

With The Business Journal’s 2019 Fastest Growing Companies list (published Oct. 25) comes a variety of companies ranging from upstarts in their industries to recognizable, household names that continue to grow today. Three companies on the list — No. 5 Boling Air Media you might see at Fresno State games and at the newly revived Lemoore Naval Air Show; No. 2 Suncrest Bank has been in Tulare County since 2008, expanding beyond the Valley in recent years; and the No. 1 company, Solar Maintenance Pros dba Solar Negotiators — found success offering a variety of services in an emerging market.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/valleys-fastest-growing-companies-shine-bright/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=6cd41e0e0c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_04_09_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-6cd41e0e0c-78934409&mc_cid=6cd41e0e0c&mc_eid=a126ded657

IRS looking to fill 1,400 temporary positions in Fresno

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is looking for qualified applicants to fill over 1,400 temporary positions in Fresno. The agency is looking for clerks, data entry clerks, and tax examiners for jobs up to four months. According to the IRS, a clerk will generally sort and open mail, tax returns and organize files. A data entry clerk’s main duty will be to key in numeric data from tax returns on a computer while a tax examiner normally reviews returns for accuracy and errors.

Three Kern companies make the 2019 Inc. 5000 list of fast-growing businesses

Three Kern County-based businesses — Grapevine MSP Technology Services and Stria LLC in Bakersfield and Tasteful Selections LLC in Arvin — have been named to 2019’s Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing privately held companies with revenues of more than $2 million last year.

Tasteful Selections, a grower and seller of bite-size potatoes, ranked highest among the three, coming in at number 2,440. Its growth year-over-year growth was pegged at 163 percent, according to Inc.’s website; its annual revenue was listed as $127.5 million.

Stria, a business process outsourcing company specializing in document management, ranked 4,350th with 70 percent growth and revenues of $6.1 million.

Grapevine is an information technology management firm with revenues of $4.8 million per year. Its 57-percent growth rate landed it 4,830th on the Inc. ranking.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/three-kern-companies-make-the-inc-list-of-fast-growing/article_18d4a54c-c45d-11e9-b615-2be90d1e5eca.html

T-mobile, Sprint merger means jobs, high-speed internet access throughout the Valley


T-mobile and Sprint are seeking final approvals to merge. If that happens, a Customer Experience Center that would employ 1,000 people would open in Kingsburg.

T-mobile and Sprint are seeking final approvals to merge. If that happens, a Customer Experience Center that would employ 1,000 people would open in Kingsburg. T-MOBILE PHOTO

California’s Central Valley is vast, encompassing all or part of 18 counties, and is a dominant agricultural region in our state. Despite its prominent role in contributing to our state’s agricultural production, this region is often overlooked when it comes to economic development.

We have a chance to change this — if the state can look to the future and seize the opportunity right in front of us. Discussions on the merger of T-Mobile with Sprint have led to T-Mobile making a number of significant commitments that would have a positive and lasting impact on the Central Valley and the state of California as a whole.

We have reason to be hopeful here in the Valley. The merger has secured the approval of almost all of the regulatory bodies necessary to finalize the deal. The Department of Justice is the latest to convey its approval, joining the Federal Communications Commission and state utility regulators from 18 of the 19 states required.

Of particular importance to the Central Valley is the commitment by T-Mobile to build a new Customer Experience Center in Kingsburg. The center would create approximately 1,000 new jobs in a region that is still trying to recover from the Great Recession. These are good, well-paying jobs with benefits, and applicants need only a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Given the rate of unemployment and underemployment for this particular subset of job seekers, this is very good news. High school graduates simply do not have many options in the Central Valley. Kingsburg and the surrounding communities will also benefit from the increased economic activity these new jobs will bring to the area.

The merger also addresses an issue that has existed for years: the lack of infrastructure to support high-speed broadband access to rural communities. For example, updating and expanding mobile infrastructure in rural communities is critical for the future of our agriculture industry. Farming is being revolutionized by innovations in technology. Remote monitoring of crops and livestock, better decision-making based on data, and the ability to target irrigation and fertilization of crops are a few examples of how tech is making agriculture more efficient and sustainable. “Smart ag” devices use mobile broadband, but these tools are only as good as the networks available to them. 5G will enable farmers and ranchers to use this technology, keeping California’s ag industry strong, efficient and environmentally sustainable.

When T-Mobile announced it would make a significant investment in the Central Valley as part of its merger with Sprint, we were hopeful and optimistic their efforts would address the lack of broadband infrastructure in this region. Expanding 5G will connect the Central Valley with the rest of California, allowing this region to compete for jobs. In fact, with our lower cost of living, the Central Valley is an attractive place for tech firms to expand or locate their businesses, but we need the digital infrastructure first.

We are encouraged by the governor’s interest in developing economic opportunities in the Central Valley. The Customer Experience Center is a great example of these opportunities turning into reality.

We’d like our state officials to be Valley’s corner and welcome a visit from Attorney General Xavier Becerra to tour the area and see what an impact a project like T-Mobile’s Customer Experience Center would have on our residents. Diversifying our local economy is important to the future of the Central Valley. So is expanding high-speed broadband access, which in an increasingly digital economy takes on even greater importance. Without it, the digital divide will expand for our people.

With so much happening in our region, it seems as though the Central Valley is at a turning point. If we are able to move forward with the opportunities for growth and development and the T-Mobile merger is part of the turning point, we foresee a much brighter future for our communities, our young people and our businesses.

Michelle Roman is mayor of Kingsburg; Victor Lopez is mayor of Orange Cove and chairs the Central Valley Latino Mayors and Elected Officials Coalition.

https://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article234224602.html