Category: Economy

Amazon acknowledges construction project north of Bakersfield

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20190707-bc-7thStandard
In this July file photo, construction continues at the Amazon “fulfillment center” along Merle Haggard Drive.

When Amazon was trying to get approval to build a massive distribution center next to Meadows Field Airport, the company’s approach was so stealthy that senior Kern County officials reviewing its permit application did not know they were actually dealing with the Seattle-based e-commerce giant.

Even after county officials told reporters one year ago this month that Amazon was coming to town, the company known for its secrecy chose to remain publicly silent about its plans for Kern.

All of that ended with an email exchange Thursday.

“Amazon absolutely acknowledges this project,” spokeswoman Shevaun Brown wrote to The Californian, “but we do not have any new information at this time.”

She was unable to provide a projected opening date or a time when the company will begin hiring people to work at the four-story building that has been under construction since October along Merle Haggard Drive. But she did confirm some details that have already been reported, clarify a misperception and fill in some important blanks.

The company, Brown noted, intends to employ 1,000 full-time, full-benefit jobs when it opens the building, which she said measures 640,000 square feet.

That last detail comes as something of a surprise. Several people have estimated the building’s size at 2.6 million square feet. But that assumes each of the four floors will offer the same amount of floor space, which apparently it will not.

County records suggest the building will house robots that will assist in the distribution process. Their towering presence will reduce the amount of interior floor space considerably. But it is still a massive building and one of the largest in Kern County.

Most of the jobs there will support “order fulfillment,” Brown wrote: “picking, packing and shipping items to customers such as books, small electronics, school supplies and home goods.”

She said there will also be jobs supporting the building operations in the areas of human resources, information technology and management.

Employees at the site will earn a minimum of $15 per hour and have access to comprehensive medical, vision and dental insurance “starting on day one,” Brown wrote.

They will also be able to enroll in a retirement savings plan, a program allowing employees to share their paid leave with their spouse or partner, and prepaid tuition covering 95 percent of the cost of courses related to in-demand fields “regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon,” she added.

Although she was unable to state when the plant might open for business, she did say hiring typically begins one to two months before operations commence — and that this launch typically takes 18 months to two years after the project is announced.

This timetable could suggest the building will begin distribution work sometime between February and August of next year.

The email exchange concluded with an implicit call for patience on the part of job-seekers.

“Even though a building may look finished on the outside,” she wrote, “we’re likely still constructing the different floors, etc.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/amazon-acknowledges-construction-project-north-of-bakersfield/article_91f52e16-ba3e-11e9-aacd-d3c1350830ef.html

Spenker Winery ‘completes the farm’ with SJ County’s only goat creamery

 

 

By Bob Highfill

Record Staff Writer

Posted Aug 4, 2019 at 4:07 PM

LODI — Bettyann Spenker is joking but serious at the same time.

In 2010, her daughters, Kate and Sarah, were out of the house off to college.

So, “I replaced them,” Bettyann said.

Indeed she did.

Spenker replaced her kids with goat kids. Her first was a cute, tiny Nigerian Dwarf she named Shirley. Fast forward nearly a decade and the tribe on the Spenker’s farmstead in Lodi has grown to more than 70 with some 23 supplying Bettyann and her daughters with enough milk to commercially make cheese and yogurt.

Today, Spenker Family Farm on DeVries Road includes their winery, vineyard, goat farm and the only goat creamery in San Joaquin County.

The idea to open an artisan creamery came when Kate and Sarah returned home from college and expressed interest in continuing the family business. There was much to discuss: The market for Zinfandel, of which they have 60 acres, wasn’t exactly robust. Their winery, which opened in 1994 as a means to showcase their grapes, was boutique in size. There already were many wineries in Lodi. How could theirs stand out from the rest? They needed to vertically integrate, but how?

They decided to open a goat creamery.

“Adding cheese seemed like a fun and natural fit,” said Kate Spenker, who studied art history and graduated in 2010 from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. “This is Mom’s baby. We support her, but we had to make the decision as a family. It is a big commitment. You’re taking care of the animals and making the product. But it’s her passion and we’re following her in that. It’s very cool. It’s been a fun project.”

Kate and Sarah helped design the animal barn and the adjacent barn that houses the wine tasting room and creamery. Sarah, who studied theater at Concordia University in Irvine, handles sales and manages the tasting room. Visitors to the tasting room can look through large windows into the creamery. Both barns are painted red and trimmed in white. Their bet is the creamery will bring in more revenue, not only in sales of cheese and yogurt, but also agritourism. They already have hosted goat yoga classes and plan to hold wine and cheese pairings and cheese-making classes.

“Bettyann had this concept a few years ago and I went, ‘OK, sounds nice,’” said Chuck Spenker, Bettyann’s husband and a third-generation wine grape grower. “It completes the farm here.”

After 12 hours, the cheese should look like yogurt, solid if tipped but still relatively soft. You may see some whey separating from the cheese. The whey is a mostly clear yellowish liquid.

Place a piece of butter muslin (doubled) in a colander in a bowl. Gently spoon the chèvre into the butter muslin. Gather up the corners of the muslin and tie knots to secure.

Hang the butter muslin filled with the chèvre over a bowl so the whey can drain. An easy way to do this is to tie the butter muslin around a cupboard handle so the bowl to catch the whey can rest on the counter underneath.

On July 26, after years of planning and building, the Spenkers cleared the final hurdle of red tape when the state issued their milk-processing license. Since then, Bettyann and her girls have been busy making cheese that they hope to have ready to sell later this month from their tasting room. Other wineries have expressed interest, as have some retail shops.

“People are eager to buy it,” Bettyann said. “So that’s good.”

During a recent visit, Bettyann and Kate scooped pasteurized curds into colanders lined with cheese cloth. They gathered the curds in the cloth and hung the bundles on racks to allow the whey to drain. In 24 hours, the result is fresh, spreadable chèvre, which will be offered straight or flavored with sun-dried tomatoes and pesto, and herbes de Provence. Bettyann also makes a mild, pressed cheese she calls Delta Breeze from an Italian-style recipe that melts easily, has a firm texture and subtle tang — an excellent entry-point for non-goat-cheese lovers or a palate cleanser on a cheese board — and a cultured, soft, gooey, decadent cheese named Shirley’s Dream, an homage to Bettyann’s first goat, that has been dusted in ash and covered by a bloomy rind — an absolutely remarkable cheese that’s salty and earthy with mushroom and umami notes.

Bettyann said she grew up in suburbia, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and not on a farm. She home-schooled her daughters and taught other home-schooled students science and math. She’s proficient in chemistry and fermentation science. She makes all of her family’s estate-grown wines: Muscat of Alexandria (Morning Glory), rosé blend of Zinfandel and Syrah (Evening Prim Rosé), Sarah’s Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.

Bettyann basically taught herself how to make cheese and yogurt, though she had help and encouragement from friends. The goats are milked once per day and a total of 15 to 20 gallons is collected, good for about 30-40 pounds of a soft cheese, such as chèvre. Goats generally will remain in lactation 10 months a year, though it depends on the breed. In addition to Nigerian Dwarfs, the Spenkers have Nubians, La Manchas and crosses between Nubians and Nigerian Dwarfs.

“That gives you the fantastic milk quality of the Nigerian Dwarfs and a little more volume with the bigger goats,” Bettyann said about the crossbreeds. “Then, I have the La Manchas and they look like they don’t have ears. They have tiny little ears and those are really nice, fairly calm and compliant dairy goats.”

Each goat has a name and Bettyann and the girls can tell them apart on sight. Willow, for instance, is a full Nubian. There’s also Thisbe; a yearling named Calliope; and a two-year-old Nigerian Dwarf, Mariah, to name a few. The goats like to be in the shade, eat hay and chomp on their favorite treat, animal crackers.

Spenker Family Farm at 17291 DeVries Road in Lodi is open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Information: (209) 367-0467, spenkerwinery.com.

T-MOBILE MERGER OK DIALS UP GOOD NEWS FOR KINGSBURG

Regulatory approval of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger clears the way for a 1,000-job call center for Kingsburg. Image via Kingsburg’s economic overview document, photo by Mike Miller with Guarantee Real Estate

Published On July 26, 2019 – 12:41 PM
Written By By TALI ARBEL And MARCY GORDON Associated Press

U.S. regulators have approved T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion takeover of rival Sprint, despite fears of higher prices and job cuts, in a deal that would leave just three major cellphone companies in the country.

The news also marks a pivotal step for a planned T-Mobile “Customer Experience Center” in Kingsburg that would create more than 1,000 new jobs and contribute $105 million to the local economy.

T-Mobile made it clear that the proposed call center’s future hinged on regulatory approval of the merger. The telecom giant also announced similar call centers would be built in Overland Park, Kansas, and Henrietta, New York, if the merger were approved. Adding the expansion of existing call centers, T-Mobile promised the creation of more than 5,000 new jobs by 2021.

The “New T-Mobile” promises to become one of the largest employers in Fresno County, with employees earning wages more than 50% of average for the region.

It’s also a feather in the economic development cap of Kingsburg, which has seen more than 25 news businesses open in the last two years.

“The Kingsburg area in Fresno County is already home to a tremendous amount of innovation, diverse talent and great energy, which makes it a perfect fit for the New T-Mobile!” said T-Mobile and New T-Mobile President Mike Sievert, in a statement from April. “Our new CECs will allow the New T-Mobile to expand the personalized service we give our amazing customers every single day as we continue to grow. We can’t wait to be a partner in the revitalized Central Valley.”

According to a Kingsburg economic overview document posted on the city website last week, the city has a number of active business incentive programs. These include development impact fee discounts as well as rebates for property and sales taxes. No specific site has been identified for the call center, so it’s not known what, if any, incentives T-Mobile might receive for the development project.

Friday’s approval from the Justice Department and five state attorneys general comes after Sprint and T-Mobile agreed to conditions that would set up satellite-TV provider Dish as a smaller rival to Verizon, AT&T and the combined T-Mobile-Sprint company. The Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, said the conditions set up Dish “as a disruptive force in wireless.”

But attorneys general from other states and public-interest advocates say that Dish is hardly a replacement for Sprint as a stand-alone company and that the conditions fail to address the competitive harm the deal causes.

“By signing off on this merger, the Justice Department has done nothing to remedy the short- and long-term harms the loss of an independent Sprint will create for U.S. wireless users,” Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner said.

A federal judge still must sign off on the approval, as it includes conditions for the new company. The Federal Communications Commission is also expected to give the takeover its blessing.

Dish is paying $5 billion for Sprint’s prepaid cellphone brands including Boost and Virgin Mobile — some 9 million customers — and some spectrum, or airwaves for wireless service, from the two companies. Dish will also be able to rent T-Mobile’s network for seven years while it builds its own.

Dish on Friday promised the FCC that it would build a nationwide network using next-generation “5G” technology by June 2023. But Dish is promising speeds that are only slightly higher than what’s typical today, even though 5G promises the potential for blazing speeds.

The Trump administration has not been consistent in its approach to media and telecom mergers. While the government went to court to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner and then lost, the Justice Department allowed Disney to buy much of 21st Century Fox, a direct competitor, with only minor asset sales to get the deal done. Mergers between direct competitors have historically had a higher bar to clear at the Justice Department.

Sprint and T-Mobile combined would now approach the size of Verizon and AT&T. The companies have argued that bulking up will mean a better next-generation “5G” wireless network than they could make on their own. Sprint and T-Mobile have argued for over a year that having one big company to challenge AT&T and Verizon, rather than two smaller companies, will be better for U.S. consumers.

The two companies tried to combine during the Obama administration but regulators rebuffed them. They resumed talks on combining once President Donald Trump took office, hoping for more industry-friendly regulators. The companies appealed to Trump’s desire for the U.S. to “win” a global 5G race with China as this faster, more reliable wireless is rolled out and applications are built for it. They have been arguing their case for more than a year.

Meanwhile, the FCC agreed in May to back the deal after T-Mobile promised to build out rural broadband and 5G, sell its Boost prepaid brand and keep prices on hold for three years.

But public-interest advocates complained that the FCC conditions did not address the problems of the merger — higher prices, less wireless competition — and would be difficult for regulators to enforce.

Attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit to block the deal . They say the promised benefits, such as better networks in rural areas and faster service overall, cannot be verified. They also worry that eliminating a major wireless company will immediately harm consumers by reducing g competition and driving up prices for cellphone service.

They are not likely to be satisfied by Friday’s settlement. None of the states involved in the suit were part of it. “We have serious concerns that cobbling together this new fourth mobile player, with the government picking winners and losers, will not address the merger’s harm to consumers, workers, and innovation,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

Dish is largely a company with a declining satellite-TV business. It has no wireless business, but over the past decade it has spent more than $21 billion accumulating a large stock of spectrum for wireless service. The wireless industry has long been skeptical of Dish’s ambitions to actually build a wireless service, instead speculating that the company wanted to make money by selling its holdings to other companies.

Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner, a longtime telecom analyst, said in an interview before the Justice Department’s announcement — many terms had been leaked to the press beforehand — that the settlement was good for the incumbent wireless companies, as a weak competitor in Sprint is being replaced by an even weaker one in Dish.

Sprint, the current No. 4 wireless provider, has thousands of stores and other distribution points as well as a cellular network. Dish has none of that, although the settlement gives it the option of taking over some stores and cell sites that T-Mobile ditches over the next five years. Creating and maintaining a retail operation and network cost tens of billions of dollars, Entner said. He doubts that Dish could do that alone, as its core business is in deep decline, or that Dish could find a wealthier company to help it do so.

But New Street Research analysts say Dish could build a lower-cost network and provide cheaper plans for customers. Still, that could take years.

George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports, also said in an interview earlier that the current structure of four competing providers works. He said it’s not the same to diminish that while enabling a competitor that doesn’t currently have the infrastructure. “Dish might become a competing network at some point but it’s not there now.”

Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank owns Sprint, while Germany’s Deutsche Telekom owns T-Mobile. SoftBank will continue to own 27 percent of the new, bigger T-Mobile and will keep some influence, but it will not control the company.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/t-mobile-merger-ok-dials-up-good-news-for-kingsburg/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=97dc7bf6e4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_07_26_07_42&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-97dc7bf6e4-78934409&mc_cid=97dc7bf6e4&mc_eid=a126ded657

$30 million boutique hotel planned for Three Rivers

It was standing room only at the Three Rivers Memorial Building on Wednesday evening, as more than 100 locals turned out to discuss the future of the small foothill community during a town hall meeting.

Much of the debate centered on a proposed 200-room, $30 million “luxury lodge” off Highway 198 and Old Three Rivers Road.

District 1 Supervisor Kuyler Crocker said the town hall meeting was intended to educate residents and hear their concerns.

“We are much closer to the starting line than the finish line here,” Crocker said of the proposed hotel. “Now is the opportunity to learn and give feedback.”

Dubbed Sequoia Resort and Spa in preliminary site plans, the boutique hotel would feature striking, earthen architecture and offer guests an experience directly inspired by the backdrop of Sequoia National Park.

Because the land is already zoned for hotel construction and abides by the Three River Community Plan, principal partner Guatam Patel could legally begin construction without public hearing.

However, Patel told the packed room he is committed to incorporating community feedback into the project’s design, having already sunk 2.5 years and more than $500,000 into finding an appropriate site.

“We are committed to having a local flair to this. That’s where modern hotel design is going,” he said. “Guests don’t want to sit trapped in their room for three nights. They want to go out and experience the local spots.”

The flair will cost you: Rooms at the resort are expected to run at least $300 a night, Patel said.

That was great news to at least one Three Rivers hotelier, who offers a comparatively humbler — and affordable — stay at the Sequoia Motel a mile up the road from the proposed resort.

“It’s not going to compete with us,” said Chris Schlossin, who opened the 12-room motel 23 years ago. “Three Rivers doesn’t have anything of that caliber. It would be a little glowing star on the map.”

Competition

For Schlossin, Airbnb is a much bigger threat to business.

Large groups of tourists rent out vacation homes on the app for rates at which local lodgings can’t compete. The county presented a draft short-term rental ordinance that Schlossin hopes will remedy the situation with occupancy limits on Airbnb homes.

Neither Airbnb or Sequoia Motel is likely to compete with the luxury project Patel envisions, however.

“It’s a high-end place. That’s something the county doesn’t have,” Schlossin said. “It’s encouraging that they’re reaching out to the community. You gotta give the man (Patel) credit for being a good neighbor.”

Patel committed to incorporating local businesses into the hotel’s operation, so long as they “meet a high operational standard,” including a restaurant and retail space. He hopes that the resort could be a draw during the off-season, benefiting local businesses.

“You only have three-to-four months to make your money here. If they could improve business during the shoulder months, that would be wonderful,” Schlossin said.

The bulk of the 102,000-square-foot project will be built offsite, so builders can erect the building in Three Rivers in a matter of days, minimizing disruption to the environment and neighbors, Patel said.

Housing for the hotel’s estimated 30 employees will be included with the project, so as not to further crunch Three River’s long-term rental and housing market.

He also addressed community concerns surrounding water and the area’s fickle water table.

“This is the water nobody else in the community wants, but that we will use and pay dearly to use,” Patel said, pointing to a state-of-the-art company the developer hopes to partner with to treat water and manage effluent.

Besides water, many residents were concerned about the possibility of a rumored incentive to build the $30 million hotel project in Tulare County.

Last year, the Sierra Star reported that Madera County supervisors cut Patel a deal to move ahead with a similar hotel project in Oakhurst, near Yosemite National Park.

The incentive took the form of a 50% rebate on the hotel’s transient occupancy tax over 25 years. TOT is a tax levied on travelers who stay at a hotel for fewer than 30 days.

The rate varies by county. In Tulare County, the TOT is 10%.

Crocker said the county hadn’t settled on a number yet and discussions with developer Patel Group were still ongoing.

“I understand why (the county) would (offer Patel) a deal for an upscale development, but it’s still frustrating that other hotels have to pay the full tax. We didn’t get any breaks,” Schlossin said.

The supervisor pointed out that such arrangements were common and would benefit both the county and the developer, providing financial incentives to build while capturing tax revenue that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

“The TOT rebate is favorable to attract business and generate long-term economic activity and taxable commerce,” Crocker said.

Some at the town hall questioned whether that tax should be used to benefit only the Three Rivers community, rather than the county’s general fund.

The argument was a no-go for Crocker.

“While Three Rivers does generate more TOT tax, other county communities generate much more sales tax or property tax and we don’t give them special treatment,” Crocker said. “I’m not going to write a blank check to Three Rivers or any other county community.”

The supervisor pointed to a $400,000 restroom project and expansion of the Three Rivers Historical Museum slated to be completed by the of the year.

The project was paid for out of the county’s general fund, Crocker said.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/local/visalia/2019/07/26/30-million-boutique-hotel-planned-three-rivers-despite-concerns/1827892001/

Cutting Edge Company Creates Opportunity Zone Fund

PRESS RELEASE

 

July 19, 2019

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact:

Bobby Kahn

Executive Director

Madera County EDC

559-675-7768

bkahn@madercountyedc.com

 

Bill Pitman

CEO/Managing Member – Benton Enterprises

(559) 664-0800

bill@elkridgealmonds.com

 

Cutting Edge Company Creates Opportunity Zone Fund

A Madera County business specializing in state-of-the-art food safety technology has launched the region’s first qualified Opportunity Zone business and on June 19, 2019, The Berenda Opportunity Fund, LLC was formed. Also organized at that time, a second new entity named H-ATS to acquire certain assets of Benton Enterprises, LLC including, intellectual property under the name Adaptable Technology Systems (ATS), Heart Ridge Farms (HRF) and Elk Ridge Almonds (ERA).

ATS developed a proprietary process to reduce pathogens through a science and energy based technology to maximize food safety, preserve the integrity and taste of the food products. These techniques will significantly improve safe food handling for a wide variety of foods. Both Heart Ridge Farms and Elk Ridge Almonds currently utilize this technology for the retail brand (HRF) and bulk processing of almonds and pistachios (ERA).

Opportunity Zones are census tracts that were nominated by governors of each state and certified by the United States Treasury into which investors can invest in new projects to spur economic development in exchange for certain federal capital gains tax advantages. The opportunity zone tax incentive was adopted on December 22, 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that provides tax incentives for investments in underserved communities.

Opportunity Zone Funds are investment vehicles that require at least 90% of their capital in “Qualified Property,” which includes stock, partnerships, interests and business property. The fund model enables a broad array of investors to pool their resources in Qualified Zone Property, increasing the scale of capital going to investments in which the Opportunity Zone Fund will invest. An Opportunity Zone Fund provides material tax benefits for investors with capital gains from other investments.

William B. Pitman, with over 40 years of farming and food processing experience, founded Benton Enterprises in 2013. Recognizing the need for improved food safety while preserving and enhancing its product integrity, led to the development of a low temperature process for several types of locally grown nuts marketed for retail sales under brands Heart Ridge Farms (retail) and under Elk Ridge Almonds (bulk). “The H-ATS combination of the Benton businesses and the ATS technologies creates a food safety solution worldwide” said Pitman. “The need for better food safety while preserving the quality is critical and we feel we can help meet those needs with our proprietary technologies,” he added.

Pitman met with the Madera County Economic Development Commission to obtain information about Opportunity Zones and had this to say, “Bobby Kahn was very helpful in getting me started in the right direction”. “Bobby explained the basics of how an Opportunity Zone Fund works and provided me with names of people that could provide the expertise in the formation of an Opportunity Zone Fund” Pitman added.  It is interesting to note that Pitman represents a 7th generation Madera county family that has deep roots in agriculture.  The project consultants are the accounting firm of Moss Adams LLP (Fresno) and the legal firm, Cutting Edge Counsel (Oakland).

 

###

 

About Opportunity Zones: Opportunity Zones are a new tool for community development. Established in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones provide tax incentives for investment in designated census tracts. https://opzones.ca.gov/

 

About The Berenda Opportunity Zone Fund: Located inside a qualified Opportunity Zone. Under this new tax codes, this is a qualified fund for the new investors to enter through.

 

About H-ATS:  An opportunity zone business that includes Heart Ridge Farms (HRF), Elk Ridge Almonds (ERA) and Adaptable Technology Systems (ATS).

 

About Benton Enterprises: Benton Enterprises will manage both H-ATS and The Berenda Opportunity Fund.

 

About Madera County EDC: Madera County Economic Development Commission (MCEDC) is a joint Powers Authority comprised of the County of Madera, the City of Madera, and the City of Chowchilla. MCEDC’s mission is to support dynamic and diverse industry sectors that provide family sustaining wages and a high quality of life. MCEDC assists business with development projects, site selection, demographics, and business incentives. www.maderacountyedc.com

California unemployment rate remains at 4.2 percent in June

Central Valley Business Times

  • Employers added 46,200 nonfarm payroll jobs
  • Every Central Valley county sees its jobless rate increase

California’s unemployment remained at 4.2 percent in June while the state’s employers added 46,200 nonfarm payroll jobs, according to data released Friday by the California Employment Development Department from two surveys.

California has now gained 3,284,300 jobs since the economic expansion began in February 2010.

Based on a monthly federal survey of 5,100 California households which focuses on workers in the economy:

  • The number of Californians holding jobs in June was 18,607,800, a decrease of 45,300 from May and up 58,700 from the employment total in June of last year.
  • The number of unemployed Californians was 813,700 in June, a decrease of 12,400 over the month and up by 3,400 compared with June of last year.

In related data that figures into the state’s unemployment rate, there were 302,156 people receiving unemployment insurance benefits during the survey week in June compared to 321,372 in May and 303,592 people in June 2018. Concurrently, 38,886 people filed new claims in June which was a month-over increase of 490.

Here are JUNE’s unemployment rates for Central Valley counties, followed by, in parentheses, the rates for May:

  • Fresno – 7.1 percent; (6.4 percent)
  • Kern – 8.0 percent; (7.2 percent)
  • Kings – 7.9 percent; (6.7 percent)
  • Madera – 7.0 percent; (6.3 percent)
  • Merced – 8.1 percent; (7.3 percent)
  • San Joaquin – 6.0 percent; (5.1 percent)
  • Stanislaus – 6.5 percent; (5.6 percent)
  • Tulare – 9.1 percent; (8.1 percent)

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/d60e2f1b-c325-4277-914f-33db48994a50.pdf

The water park is coming, so are the jobs. Work under way at Manteca’s Great Wolf Lodge

 

Great Wolf Lodge is bringing a water park back to Manteca, CA. An update on the indoor water park resort and hotel project that is expected to bring 500 to 600 jobs to the Central Valley city.

Yes, the water slides are still coming. So is the hotel. Plus a family entertainment center. And restaurants. But before any of that arrives, expect between 500 and 600 jobs to come to Manteca.

A small-scale village in the form of the Great Wolf Lodge is rising in the Central Valley city just off Highway 120. A representative from a highly anticipated water park resort gave a public presentation at Manteca City Hall on Thursday evening to a packed crowd.

The 500-room, six-story structure is on track to open in June or July of 2020. Construction has been under way since groundbreaking last November. The structure looms large, visible from the freeway next to the Costco and Big League Dreams center.

Steven Jacobsen, vice president of domestic development at Great Wolf, updated the audience on the project’s progress and sought to reassure citizens that the resort would be a good and welcoming neighbor once it opens.

“We’re all about families. And we’re all about providing an opportunity for families to spend time together — quality time,” Jacobsen said. “We’re about creating an incredible experience so the average family can go with family and loved ones and have a great time.”

The new development will feature a connected hotel, indoor water park and family entertainment center. Jacobsen boasted of more than 50 activities “under one roof” at the resort. They include numerous water slides, wave pools, a lazy river, shopping, multiple dining options, bowling, arcades and even an interactive adventure game.

Great Wolf operates 17 resorts in North America, making it the largest indoor water park company on the continent. Besides its upcoming Manteca location, it has another set to open this fall near Phoenix, and one each planned for England and Mexico. The Midwest-founded and based company expects to see 8 million guests through its property next year.

But it was the Manteca project that was front and center Thursday night. The public presentation addressed some of the most pressing concerns about the project from area residents, including access to its lauded indoor water park. Shortly after the development was officially announced last August, some in the area complained the water park would only be open to hotel guests and leave locals high and dry.

AA Great Wolf 02.JPG
Family entertainment center under construction at the Great Wolf Lodge Resort in Manteca, Calif., Thursday, July 11, 2019. Andy Alfaro AALFARO@MODBEE.COM

Jacobsen reiterated the company’s reasons for its hotel guest-only policy for its water park — safety and overall park enjoyment — but also introduced a new day-pass pilot program the resort has rolled out recently. At other properties, the company is testing passes to allow non-hotel guests to use the water park based on occupancy levels.

“We don’t want you to stand in a Disney line at Great Wolf,” Jacobsen said.

The company is still evaluating the day-pass program, and prices are flexible based on dates and occupancy. Jacobsen wouldn’t give a price range for the passes, but a look at the July day-pass rate at the three closest Great Wolf resorts in Southern California, Washington and Colorado put the fee mid-week at $65-$80 per person and weekend rate at $90-$110 per person.

When compared to booking a hotel room, which has two days of water park access for all of the registered guests included in the rate plus free parking, Jacobsen told the crowd that for a family of four-plus, it typically pencils out better to rent a room instead of doing the day passes.

AA Great Wolf 06.JPG
Workers move a section of the water slide during construction at the Great Wolf Lodge Resort in Manteca, Calif., Thursday, July 11, 2019. Andy Alfaro AALFARO@MODBEE.COM

Jacobsen also couldn’t give a price range for the Manteca rooms, as they change depending on the day of the week, season and overall occupancy. But in Anaheim this month, rooms start at around $329.99 for a standard and $629 for a premium suite. The largest rooms in the resort will be able to sleep up to 12, and multiple different kinds of rooms and packages are available. Jacobsen also stressed that the Manteca site will not have minimum night stay requirements for hotel guests to use the park.

Still, for folks who don’t want to book a room, the lodge still has public areas that are accessible to non-hotel guests. Those include the restaurants and all of the family fun center, which will have an arcade, bowling alley, games and more.

And for those not looking to stay or play, the lodge could become their work as Jacobsen revealed the complex would hire between 500 to 600 full-time and part-time jobs. Positions will range from lifeguards to waitstaff, engineers to hotel clerks. Jacobsen said they are teaming with the City of Manteca to help publicize the positions.

Great Wolf rendering.JPG
A rendering of the Great Wolf Lodge in Manteca which will include a 6-story, 500-room hotel, family entertainment center and 95,000 square-foot indoor waterpark. Gensler GREAT WOLF RESORT

There will be a job fair in the city about 30 to 45 days before its opening next summer. So job seekers should be on the lookout for information around April and May of next year. Jacobsen said the job fair would ensure that Manteca residents “got first crack” at employment.

The managerial positions should be hired 30 to 45 days before the site’s opening, and then the bulk of the remaining staff should come on board about two and a half weeks out. No other job descriptions, salary information or employment requirements have been released yet.

Jacobsen and city staff also addressed some logistical concerns from area residents, including traffic on Daniels Street. City Manager Tim Ogden assured attendees that the road, which currently stops at the Great Wolf construction site, would be extended to McKinley Avenue on the west side of the project. That work should be completed by next February, months before the opening.

https://www.modbee.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/biz-beat/article232523217.html

Amazon says it will “upskill”100,000 of its workers

 

  • To offer training programs for one in three of its U.S. employees
  • “We think it’s important to invest in our employees”

Amazon employees will be offered training to move into highly skilled technical and non-technical roles across the company’s corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores, and transportation network, or even pursue career paths outside of Amazon, the online retailer says Thursday.

Based on a review of its workforce and analysis of U.S. hiring, Amazon says its fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years include data mapping specialist, data scientist, solutions architect and business analyst, as well as logistics coordinator, process improvement manager and transportation specialist within its customer fulfillment network.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) says it will spend more than $700 million on the training of about 100,000 or its U.S. workforce.

Programs will include “Amazon Technical Academy,” which equips non-technical employees with the essential skills to transition into software engineering careers;“Associate2Tech,” which trains fulfillment center workers to move into technical roles regardless of their previous IT experience; “Machine Learning University” offering employees with technical backgrounds the opportunity to access machine learning skills via an on-site training program; “Amazon Career Choice,” a pre-paid tuition program designed to train fulfillment center employees in high-demand occupations of their choice; “Amazon Apprenticeship,” a Department of Labor-certified program that offers paid intensive classroom training and on-the-job apprenticeships with Amazon; and “AWS Training and Certification,” which provide employees with courses to build practical AWS Cloud knowledge that is essential to operating in a technical field.

“We think it’s important to invest in our employees, and to help them gain new skills and create more professional options for themselves,” says Beth Galetti, senior vicepresident for human relations.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/0fb7bcba-e11a-4fce-9356-c28e89fcb4ec.pdf