Category: Commercial

COVID-19 virus spurs hiring atsupermarket chains

Central Valley Business Times

March 19, 2020

• FoodMaxx, Lucky & Save Mart looking for workers
• Modesto-based company says it is hiring for nearly 1,000 jobs

Modesto-based privately held Save Mart Companies are hiring, due to the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
There are openings for close to 1,000 employees in their FoodMaxx, Lucky and Save Mart stores located throughout California and Northern Nevada, as well as their warehouses in Roseville and Merced, thre company says.

This includes in-store positions, drivers, and warehouse workers.

The Save Mart Companies operates 205 stores throughout California and Northern Nevada under the banners of FoodMaxx, Lucky and Save Mart. In addition to its retail operation, the company also operates Smart  Refrigerated Transport and is a partner in Super Store
Industries, which owns and operates a distribution center in Lathrop and the Sunnyside Farms dairy processing plant in Turlock.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/cdbea38d-b122-467b-b987-e4838c36e663.pdf

Amazon, Save Mart hiring in Patterson, Modesto amid coronavirus pandemic. Apply here.

Amazon plans to hire 800 workers for its Patterson and Tracy warehouses, a spokesperson said Tuesday, to help meet increased demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The temporary jobs are among the 100,000 nationwide openings Amazon announced Monday, the same day Modesto-based Save Mart Cos. said it expects to hire nearly 1,000 employees in California and Nevada.

Save Mart Cos. had posted at least 26 job openings in Stanislaus County grocery stores as of Tuesday afternoon, according to searches on the Save Mart careers page. More than half of the openings are clerks and grocery baggers at Modesto Save Mart and FodMaxx locations.

Meanwhile, the combined 800 openings at the Amazon fulfillment centers in Patterson and Tracy will be posted at the online retailer’s website. Current employees at both locations will a $2 per hour raise, an Amazon spokesperson said, bringing wages for delivery people and warehouse workers to $17 per hour. Some of the new temporary jobs will be full-time, while others will be part-time.

“We also know many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants, and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis,” the online retailer said in a news release. “We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back.”

Other companies that announced plans to hire new workers during the coronavirus pandemic include Raley’s and Safeway, a subsidiary of Albertson’s. The Sacramento-based chain Raley’s is looking for personal shoppers and intends to fill positions within a week or less, according to its job postings. The Raley’s at Village One Plaza in Modesto is among those looking for an “eCart team member,” a search showed.

Safeway said Monday it has 2,000 immediate openings for delivery drivers and store workers across Northern California, Hawaii and Nevada. Stores are accepting applications online or in person, a news release said.

https://www.modbee.com/news/coronavirus/article241275246.html?

Hampton Inn and Suites coming to Porterville in 2021

Paul Jariwala, the general manager of Holiday Inn Express on Highway 190 put it best when it comes to the hotel industry.

“There’s kind of room for everyone,” he said.

Even though it will be in direct competition with the Holiday Inn, a Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton will be constructed at the 2.6-acre lot just to the east and of the Holiday Inn on Highway 190. The hotel will be the third one in that area as it will also join the Best Western Porterville Inn.

The three hotels will continue to provide a need for people who travel Highway 190 to visit such attractions at the Sequoia National Forest.

Porterville Lodging LLC is the owner of both the Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn. Jariwala will serve as the general manager for both hotels.

Jariwala said it’s planned for construction of the Hampton Inn to begin this summer and it’s hoped the hotel will be ready to open by the summer of 2021.

Jariwala said the Hampton Inn will be similar to the Holiday Inn as it will be an upper-midscale hotel. The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn compete with other upper-midscale hotels such as LaQuinta, Fairfield Inn and Comfort Inn.

But Jariwala said the majority of those hotels’ customers are loyalty members. He said right now 60 to 70 percent of those staying at the Holiday Inn are loyalty members. “The loyalty people makes a big difference,” he said.

Jariwala said the Hampton Inn will have amenities similar to the Holiday Inn, including a pool, spa, gym and wireless internet.

The Hampton Inn will be two adjacent towers — one four stories and one three stories — Jariwala said. The entrance will be on the backside of the hotel away from Highway 190. The buildings will be L shaped.

The hotel will have 87 rooms. The Holiday Inn has 69 rooms of which 24 are suites. Jariwala said 20 percent of the rooms in the Hampton Inn will be suites, so more than 20 of the rooms will be suites. The suites will include a living room area along with a bedroom and will also have  a kitchen.

And just as the Holiday Inn does, the Hampton Inn will serve breakfast. There’s also the potential for a restaurant to be placed in the Hampton Inn.

Jariwala said there have been a couple of entities who have shown interest in having a restaurant at the Hampton Inn and a pad for a restaurant will be constructed at the hotel. “We have done our homework on the franchise side,” Jariwala said.

The Holiday Inn also just went through a complete overhaul in which virtually the entire hotel was renovated. Jariwala said the cost of the project was $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

All of the rooms were redone and new beds and furnishing were placed in all the rooms. In addition, the 32-inch televisions in the rooms were replaced with 49-inch televisions.

The hotel now has 100 percent LED lighting as “there isn’t a regular light bulb” in the hotel anymore, Jariwala said.

He added the Hampton Inn will also be 100 percent LED lighting. “It’s going to be all energy efficient and all that,” Jariwala said.

https://www.recorderonline.com/news/hampton-inn-and-suites-coming-to-porterville-in/article_3288a5c6-58cb-11ea-8f58-a33817cffbff.html

A Brave New World: Latest in agriculture at Expo in Tulare

TULARE — Traditionally the Farmer’s Almanac predicts rainy weather during early to middle February said Lt. Boatman from the Tulare Police Department, who was helping on the first day of the 2020 World Ag Expo on Tuesday, at the International Agri-Center in Tulare.

But it was a clear, bright, and beautifully sunny day, and at least 30,000 people or more were expected to attend the show. And over the three days, Tuesday, today and Thursday, Feb. 13, there could be anywhere from 90,000 to more than  100,000 people attending from all over the world.

When the gates opened and hundreds of people were lined up to enter, at about 9:30 the Star Spangled Banner was sung, and people respectfully sang with their hands over their hearts.

Boatman said the Porterville Police Department, and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department were also helping the Tulare Police Department, as well as the Explorers from all over Tulare County.

On the trams that run throughout the Ag Expo, people were getting rides to wherever they needed to go, and all of the Expo volunteers were incredibly helpful and accommodating.

There are more than 266 acres of fascinating new agricultural equipment, such as huge feed mixers, farm trucks, with huge pavilions full of exhibitors throughout the show.

Looking at giant mixers for cattle feed, they look like huge blenders that mix alfalfa, grain, corn silage, minerals and vitamins, or whatever the nutritional needs to keep cows healthy, explained a rancher.

Hopping on one of the trams, Bill Horst, who’s been to all of the ag shows since they started in 1968, or 51 years ago, said there’s lots to see, lots to do, and the food was great. He recommended the Peach Cobbler.

There was a large pavilion where hemp products were being displayed, and an informational talk was being given, explaining oilseed, fiber, and extract type comes from hemp, and hemp fiber has been made to make clothing for years.

For medical use there’s “cannabis” which is used by adults.

A vendor for special bags to keep hemp fresh said there’s a big wave of growers who are getting back into growing hemp because of the huge variety of uses, besides CBD oil, which can be used medicinally.

Besides exhibits of merchandise, and vendors at the show there are also all kinds of seminars at the expo such as a discussion about “Rural Broadband and it’s importance to Agriculture,” to presentations about international trade, and modern professionally installed irrigation, and much more.

Southern California Edison had an exhibit where they had an electric heavy duty farm truck, an electric forklift, and an electric Nissan car. Brian Thoburn said Edison’s theme was to showcase its vision to put a million medium to heavy duty electric vehicles on the road in California, to help the state meet its energy goals for clean energy. He said another important thing was Edison’s efforts to represent its $356 million investment to help their customers to make greater use of electric transportation, including agricultural, business, and residential customers.

Thoburn also said there was a safety demonstration, and Edison Electric Safety Board would give a presentation and explain safety issues of electricity outside the house, around electrical poles.

Later, sitting down having lunch, Ismael Aguirre, from Jordan Central Equipment, in Blythe, Calif., which is near Arizona, said he was at the show to see all the new tractors and farm equipment. “There are people here from everywhere, and it’s wonderful to see all the new equipment that comes out, and meet the people who build them. I love the technical side of the equipment.

Walking down one of the streets, Amanda Yan, from Hergesheimer’s Donuts in Porterville said the Porterville Exchange Club and students had a booth.

Thirteen students from Monache Hospitality Pathways helped out, in two shifts, with the Porterville Exchange Club Concession Stand selling hamburgers, fries, drinks, and specialty deep fried oreos, and more during the day.

Aira Baez, Carla Montejano, Michelle Garcia, Annie Otero, Madison Morris, and Kristina Williamson all said they learned how to prepare food efficiently, quickly, and under pressure, but they had fun and the food was “yummy.”

Johnny Orduno, Yolanda Bocanegra, Betty Luna, and Pete Lara, and others were all helping to run the stand, and Bocanegra, said it was her third time at the expo, and she’s a member of the Exchange Club. ”I love doing this and being a part of the group. They are wonderful people who serve the community of Porterville. And I love working with the students from all our Porterville schools.”

“The reason the Exchange Club does the food concession stand,” said Luna, Club President, “is to fundraise for child abuse prevention, support our veterans, and give scholarships to Harmony Magnet Academy and Strathmore High School.

Luna said to the students as they left, “You’ve done a fabulous job.”

New bookstore to open in downtown Hanford

HANFORD, Calif. (KFSN) — A local business owner is turning the page and opening a brand new bookstore in downtown Hanford.

Running a business isn’t new for Janie Isidoro. She’s been managing a shop in Visalia, but as an author, she always dreamed of owning her own bookstore one day.

“I’m a writer, so I had my books on my shelf, but then I started bringing in other books as well,” said Isidoro.

When their building was sold, and they had to relocate last November, Janie decided it was time for a new chapter.

“If we read it, it sticks in, and it’s really important to make sure we don’t forget those paperbacks, that feeling of paper in your hand,” Isidoro added.

She’s been spending the past few months preparing My Corazon, which will serve as a bookstore and retail shop in downtown Hanford.

“You come into a bookstore, you get to sit, and read, and open a book,” Isidoro said.

“I don’t think kids do that nowadays,” said Hanford resident Silvia Gonzalez Scherer. “I don’t think kids know what a real book store is and how wonderful it could be.”

The shop will include a section for local authors, Latino writers, used books, and a kids section.

“Our bookstore is not huge and 5,000 square feet, but we’re catering to our community,” Isidoro said.

First, they’re working on expanding their inventory and are asking for donations of all kinds.

“I’ve known a lot of people haven’t seen a bookstore in this town in over a decade, so this is going to be fantastic for the community,” Scherer said

My Corazon is set to open in early February.

Business landscape looks bright for Shafter

January 9, 2020 | View PDF

Courtesy Wonderful Company

The Walmart distribution center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020.

The City of Shafter has been enjoying a reputation of being one of the fastest growing cities in business in recent years, attracting such companies as Target, Ross and several other big retailers.

The most recent addition is Walmart, which is scheduled to open the most technologically advanced distribution center in the nation in Shafter in the fall of 2020.

Bob Meadows, business development director for the city, says Shafter is a sought-after destination for businesses, large and small.

“We have several irons in the fire. This year should see the city continue to build on this success and make 2020 a special one.”

Financially, the city has been touted as one of the most financially sound cities in the state. Meadows said that since he joined the city last year, he has become aware of the great reputation the city has in Kern County, as well as in the state of California.

A big draw for the city, Meadows says, is the willingness of the city to work with potential developers and retailers, as well as the technological advantages Shafter has. “Having the city connected through our fiber optic lines throughout the city has been a great benefit.”

Looking forward into 2020, Meadows said that the biggest item on the agenda so far is the opening of the Walmart facility. This will mean over 200 jobs for the community, with about a third of the jobs STEM-related – tied to science, technology, engineering and mathematics — with the other two-thirds general laborers.

“We are excited to see how many of the jobs are going to go to Shafter residents, which will mean the dollars staying here locally,” commented Meadows.

Another exciting development for 2020 is the growing relationship between the city and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The KCHCC has been very beneficial to county and its businesses, Meadows said, with a good many of businesses working with the chamber enrich the local communities.

In addition to the contacts that are made with a relationship with the chamber, they also have made a big impact on local businesses with holding their business academies. The academy is a 12-week program that helps small local businesses learn how to operate successfully, as well as how to market their products and services, and get their companies out in the community. “We are looking forward to the possibility of holding a business academy right here in Shafter for our local businesses,” said Meadows.

As far as new businesses on the horizon, Meadows said that there has been a lot of interest in several locations throughout the city, including the property at Central Avenue and Central Valley Highway that used to house Brookside Deli. “We have a couple of people that are very interested in the property, and they both are food-related, which is good because the property already is equipped to house a food establishment,” Meadows said.

He said that they also have had discussions about different businesses coming to Shafter, including a veterinarian, additional automotive service businesses, a drive-thru car wash and additional medical clinics. “Rural medicine is a big issue in our economy, with a lot of people looking for affordable healthcare,” Meadows said.

The city was the recipient of surplus of sales tax revenue last year. This unexpected development was the result of a large number of customers who ordered products online this year.

Retailer William Sonoma paid the city a large amount of sales tax money that was not forecast. “A lot of people ordered online this last year,” said Meadows, “which was very nice for us.”

Meadows said that the businesses at the Wonderful Logistics Park do amazing things when it comes to business relationships across the state and the United States, but there is not a lot of actual income that is produced out there.

“The difference in the William Sonoma retailer and retailers like Target and Ross is that for the online ordering, the sale is actually in the city of Shafter. With the distribution centers, the sales are not done here, the product is just shipped to and from a location, so the sales tax money goes to the city where the sale actually takes place.”

In addition to the Hispanic Chamber, the city also has been in contact with the Small Business Development Center in Bakersfield for a possible workshop in the near future. The group, based out of Cal State Bakersfield, held a workshop this last year that was well attended and gave local business owners valuable information about how to grow your business, including marketing and creating a presence on social media, as well as how to go about financing a business venture.

“What we are looking at would build on that workshop, becoming a regular meeting that would be set up for our small businesses who may need advice on how to operate their business, as well as getting them in contact with the correct people and agencies to further their success,” Meadows said.

“The business landscape is looking up for Shafter when it comes to all phases of the business arena,” Meadows concluded.

https://www.theshafterpress.com/story/2020/01/09/news/business-landscape-looks-bright-for-city/1204.html

New warehouses, hotels, restaurants coming to Visalia’s Industrial Park

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) — Rod Jurbina remembers a time, perhaps just 15 years ago, when there wasn’t much to see in parts of Visalia’s industrial park.

At the time, he was working for a gas company.

“We put in a four-inch plastic gas main in there and I was asking myself, ‘I wonder why they need this here because there’s really nothing out here for now,'” Jurbina said. “And now look what it’s developed into.”

In a January economic update, city employees describe an industrial park that is growing substantially. The reason for the growth?

The city says it’s multiple factors, including the cost and availability of land, Visalia’s central location in the state, and the expansion of the UPS’ ground hub at this massive facility at Riggin Avenue and Plaza Drive.

The city expects UPS will add another 250 jobs but predicts it will also spur new development and more jobs.

“So now other companies that are in that kind of a business model will now look at Visalia, and say ‘Hey, we can service the state, we can go south, we can go north, one-shift kind of thing,'” Visalia Councilmember Steve Nelsen said.

Millipore Sigma, an east-coast based life-sciences company, is now up and running in their west coast distribution center on Riggin Avenue.

The city says construction will start soon on even more massive warehouses in that area.

Closer to the freeway, in the business research park, a large new development has been proposed with space for offices, stores, and a park in the middle.

A Residence Inn recently opened across the street, and two more hotels are planned.

Jurbina, who now works in the industrial park, is supportive of its rapid expansion.

More people will have jobs, he says, and the city will benefit by way of tax revenue.

“Any time there’s growth, there’s always a good opportunity for everybody,” he said.

The industrial park is getting close to meeting its current growth boundary established in 2013.

On Thursday night, the Visalia planning commission and city councilmembers will consider moving it into another tier where more land could be developed.

This California Farm Town Is Launching Startups Faster Than Seattle, Boston, and the Bay Area

By Guadalupe Gonzalez Staff reporter
Knowing little English, Rosibel Hurst came to the U.S. from Honduras dreaming of a medical career. She translated her nursing coursework using English-Spanish dictionaries. In 2018, Hurst’s Bakersfield beauty startup made $2 million–which gave her the courage to quit the full-time nursing job she’d kept to support her five-yearold company. “I’m finally going all in,” she says. “I’ll build the business every day and see where it takes me.”
KAYLA REEFER

Once a recurring punch line in Johnny Carson’s monologues, the agriculture-and-oil town of Bakersfield, California–home to the country’s most prolific carrot farm–is not the most obvious example of a West Coast startup hub.

But the Central Valley city, population 400,000, has vaulted onto this year’s Surge Cities list by outperforming 46 other metro areas–including the Bay Area, Boston, and Seattle–in net job and business creation in the past year.

“Incredible things are happening here,” says Irma Olguin Jr., co-founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries, a Fresno-based tech academy and software startup that’s helped create about 1,000 jobs in the area. It’s opening a Bakersfield location in 2020. “We’re seeing validation from VCs and investment banks, and there is a momentum around local revitalization.”

According to Anna Smith, co-founder of local real estate firm Sage Equities, this Bakersfield boom has been helped by entrepreneurial Millennials who’ve returned home from more expensive cities. They’re finding a growing tech community, bolstered by events like the 59-day hackathon led by nonprofit 59DaysofCode.

Maria Coward’s 27-year-old restaurant, La Costa Mariscos, serves authentic Puerto Vallartan seafood dishes in the city’s historic Ice House Building. She recently opened a second location across town.KAYLA REEFER

Latinx founders, whose ranks swelled by 36 percent from 2007 to 2012 in Bakersfield, have also been essential to the city’s evolution. Today, approximately three of every 10 companies in town are Latinx owned, and membership for Bakersfield’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has ballooned from 200 businesses to 1,200 in less than a decade.

Rosibel Hurst’s Bellissima Medical Aesthetics is one of 8,500 local Latinx-owned businesses. In 2014, the founder, who was born in Honduras, launched her beauty clinic, which offers procedures such as Botox injections and skin-tightening treatments, from a single room inside of a supportive doctor’s office. Today, Bellissima is profitable, with roughly $2 million in annual sales and 13 employees. “I was able to grow this company because of the help I got from people here,” she says. “Bakersfield is a giving city.”

As the field of startups grows in Bakersfield, so do the resources to sustain it. In 2018, Bakersfield businessman John-Paul Lake co-founded the city’s first angel investing firm, Kern Venture Group, and worked with the city’s community college to create Launchpad, which helps local entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

At Oasis Air Conditioning, founder Ben Dominguez and his 28 employees are expanding into the solar panel market to meet growing demand from the city’s homeowners.KAYLA REEFER

Originally created in Fresno to assist refugee farmers, loan fund Access Plus Capital has doled out 22 microloans worth more than $1.6 million to Bakersfield entrepreneurs since it began servicing the city in 2012.

“People are realizing that the Central Valley is changing,” says Edward Palomar, manager of the fund’s Bakersfield office, which opened in 2017. “They see the opportunity for growth here.”

https://www.inc.com/magazine/202002/guadalupe-gonzalez/bakersfield-california-central-valley-latinx-entrepreneurs-2019-surge-cities.html

Plans emerge for major cannabis facility in Modesto. Up to 250 jobs are projected

 
A Canada-based company plans to use a 196,000-square-foot building in Beard Industrial tract to manufacture and distribute cannabis products. It would possibly be the largest commercial cannabis facility in California. The building, on Daly Avenue, is pictured here, on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Modesto, California.

A Canada-based company plans to use a 196,000-square-foot building in Beard Industrial tract to manufacture and distribute cannabis products. It would possibly be the largest commercial cannabis facility in California. The building, on Daly Avenue, is pictured here, on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Modesto, California. 

A Canada-based company has big plans to manufacture and distribute cannabis products from an expansive building in Modesto.

In April, Transcanna Holdings Inc. announced the purchase of the 196,000-square-foot building on Daly Avenue in the Beard Industrial District. The company with corporate offices in Vancouver has also acquired locally based Lyfted Farms, a county-permitted cannabis business that will manage the Modesto operations.

Lyfted is seeking a permit from Stanislaus County for growing cannabis in a 32,700-square-foot area inside the building. Cannabis products would be processed and packaged in the former turkey processing plant and distributed to retail outlets in California.

At full scale, the production facility operating seven days a week could employ 200 to 250 workers. In addition to cannabis flower, pre-rolls, oils and cannabidiol, the plant would use an extraction process to make edibles and vaping products.

The three-story facility also has the ability to freeze harvested cannabis to preserve its essential ingredients.

“We like indoor growing, but most of the facility would be for distribution and manufacturing,” said Steve Giblin, Transcanna’s chief executive officer.

Plans are to begin operations in the first quarter of 2020 with a small cultivation area and distribution, said Bob Blink, chief executive officer of Lyfted Farms. Security measures will include an 8-foot perimeter fence, surveillance cameras, an alarm system and at least three security guards.

“It is very secure,” Blink said. “Security is a big point locally and in the state. It has the best security around just by the way the building is designed.”

Transcanna is a startup company formed two years ago. With the Modesto processing plant, Transcanna’s website says, the company is positioned to serve the cannabis market in California, which apparently is regarded as the largest in the world. Extensive improvements have been made to the building.

The company’s stock is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange. The stock price has swung from $7.88 per share in May to closing at 79 cents on Monday.

A county Planning Commission hearing on the project could be set for Dec. 19, if the applicants come through with requested information for the county this week, or the hearing could be held in January.

County Senior Planner Kristin Doud said staff was waiting for information such as whether rooftop parking would be utilized. In addition, the county and the applicant still were discussing the fees to be paid to the county. A facility of that size could generate millions of dollars in fees over a five-year period.

A study on air quality and odor control could raise some questions before the Planning Commission, and traffic is another potential issue.

Doud said the cannabis fees spelled out in development agreements are based on the cultivation square-footage and anticipated output of manufacturing and distribution or may be a simple 3 percent of gross sales.

An earlier proposal for the Daly Avenue building was one of the original applications in 2017 when the county rolled out its permitting program for commercial cannabis, which was legalized by Proposition 64. A county screening process rejected that first application because it included too many applicants for one site, Doud said.

Lyfted came forward with the current application when a second county application window opened in August.

Transcanna said in April it had purchased the Daly facility for $15 million and would make an $8 million down payment, while the seller, Cool Swang, carried a $6.5 million promissory note at 7 percent interest for 13 months. In October, the company said the loan’s maturity date was being extended six months and issued 500,000 in restricted shares of stock (priced at 56 cents) to Cool Swang to settle a $280,000 fee. Cool Swang is owned by Chad Swan.

When asked about the company’s current stock value, Giblin said there was initial enthusiasm for investing in the cannabis industry but the realities of business are now affecting the stock price. Investors will want to see profits on the horizon.

Giblin said he expects the Daly building and the strong facility management team will help establish investor confidence. Alan Applonie was hired in June as the plant’s general manager. According to a news release, Applonie was instrumental in growing a consumer packaged goods company “from startup to two billion dollars in annual revenues” and has infrastructure systems experience with Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart and Kroger.

Transcanna also will rely on the expertise of Lyfted Farms. Earlier this year, county supervisors approved a permit for Lyfted to grow cannabis indoors and package products in a 19,500-square-foot warehouse on Jerusalem Court in north Modesto.

The Canadian firm also acquired a cannabis business called SolDaze, which is based in Santa Cruz.

Giblin, who has a history of turning companies around in the hotel and real estate industries, said the company needs to obtain the county permit and then approval from the state.

“We are happy about the strategic purchase of the Daly building and we really like Modesto,” Giblin said. “We think it’s a great place to grow.”

https://www.modbee.com/news/local/article238194959.html

FRESNO COUNTY ECONOMIC FORECAST: INTERNATIONAL INTEREST COMES ROLLING IN

Construction activity in Fresno keeps coming, including this three-story office building under construction near Palm and Herndon avenues. Photo by Edward Smith.

Published On December 4, 2019 – 1:33 PM
Written By 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of four economic forecasts The Business Journal does every year for each of the four counties in our coverage area.

This seems to be a prime time for the world to kick the tires on Fresno County.

Interest from companies from far-flung countries including China and Japan has kept economic development officials busy, and even corporate America is taking a closer look at locating in Fresno County on the heels of Amazon and Ulta’s investment in e-commerce distribution centers.

At the same time, Fresno County’s agricultural sector continues to reassert itself as a force to be reckoned with. In fact, based off 2018 crop statistics, Fresno County once again became the top agricultural county in California and the U.S. — a position it hasn’t held since 2013.

Economic development and job creation are job one for Fresno County Economic Development Corp. Will Oliver, director of business services for the Fresno County EDC, noted that 2019 “was filled with much activity, interest and momentum.”

Fresno County welcomed new out-of-state e-commerce operations who either located facilities here or contracted with local third-party logistics partners, Oliver said.

Oliver noted considerable interest in the small cities of Fresno County. One example is Initiative Foods, which is one of the nation’s largest baby food manufacturers, and a major international exporter. It recently completed a 30,000 square foot addition at its Sanger manufacturing plant. Another city, Reedley, is using available resources to lure an advanced food manufacturer.

The region’s designation as a federal Opportunity Zone has done much to jumpstart some of that interest, Oliver noted. The geographical designation provides incentives in the form of reduced capital gains taxes on investments for capital projects.

Fresno County is preparing to kick Opportunity Zone marketing of the region into high gear.

“Much groundwork has been laid to support Opportunity Zone investments by preparing projects and developing a digital prospectus to market the region’s assets, which will be live in 2020,” Oliver said.

Kingsburg recently made big news with T-Mobile’s announcement that it planned to locate a call center there that would create 1,000 jobs, which would be a major jolt to the local economy. That project is contingent on the telecommunication company’s successful merger with Sprint.

Fresno had a bit of a coming-out party earlier this month as host of the California Economic Summit, which included announcements of millions of dollars in investment into the Central Valley. It provided some much-needed momentum heading into the New Year, Oliver noted.

“2020 will certainly be focused on recruiting and expanding high-growth, traded sector companies and industries, such as in health care, agricultural technology and manufacturing,” Oliver said.

On the international front, while much of the economic development work is understandably behind the scenes and not for public consumption, word has trickled down that a Japanese company called Manda Fermentation Co. is on the verge of locating operations in Fresno County. Other Asian countries are looking at the county, undoubtedly drawn to it as a center for international agriculture.

On the agricultural front, Jan. 31, 2020, is a pivotal deadline as the state’s water managers — large and small — must provide plans for how they will manage groundwater usage under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Ryan Jacobsen, CEO/executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said the sustainability plans will take 20 years to implement, with progress reports required every five years. But just getting to this stage has taken a lot of time, not to mention paperwork, as each plan is “hundreds, if not thousands of pages long,” he said.

Jacobsen said a number of factors — ongoing trade negotiations with China, new federal scientific guidelines on the pumping of water from the delta and engaged leadership on the local, state and federal level — give him reason for optimism.

Trade friction with China has been especially worrisome.

“The trade issue is front and center,” he said. “I’m optimistic that we can come to an agreement with China. I’ve been an eternal optimist.”

https://thebusinessjournal.com/fresno-county-economic-forecast-international-interest-comes-rolling-in/