Madera County Receives $450K Grant From Caltrans

Madera County is pleased to announce the receipt of a Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant award of $450,000 from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The award will be used to develop a Transit Area Specific Plan that will establish a vision for the phased implementation effort to relocate the San Joaquins Madera Station and construct the adjacent future High-Speed Rail (HSR) station.

The plan will lead to the creation of new intermodal transit options and future transit-oriented development along the Avenue 12 corridor in southeastern Madera County. The project is consistent with and supportive of the goals of the Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant Program, Senate Bill 1 requirements, the Madera County General Plan, the Madera State Center Community College Specific Plan (SCCCSP), Federal Railroad Administration(FRA) requirements, as well as the HSR Authority’s programmatic and project environmental documents.

Madera County will do the planning work in partnership with the City of Madera, Madera County Transportation Commission, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), and Caltrans. This effort will guide the design and land-use in the vicinity of the station area as well as enable Madera County to promote economic development, encourage station area development and enhance multi-modal access connections between the station, the City of Madera, Madera Community College, and other surrounding communities throughout Madera County and northern Fresno County. “This is an exciting step towards enhancing our current rail connectivity. I believe this is imperative to the success of our cities, our County, Madera Community College, and the residents we serve through smart transit-oriented development,” said Madera County Board of Supervisor Brett Frazier following Monday’s announcement.

California one step closer to establishing high-speed rail with Silicon Valley to Merced line

After years of anticipation and developments, the state is one step closer to establishing a high-speed rail connection between Northern and Southern California. This week, California High-Speed Rail Authority officials approved a 90-mile stretch set to run from San Jose to Merced. This section would begin at San Jose’s Diridon Station and connect to a Central Valley site currently under construction. This connection will cut travel time between the two regions from roughly three hours to one hour.  San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo says he sees the developments as good news for the local economy.  “Completion of this critically important high-speed rail project helps the state expand economic opportunity and affordable housing, two critical goals for all of us,” he said.

Monterey County resident Stefan Mora says he often travels up and down the state for work and believes the high speed rail is a good alternative for people who spend a lot of time behind the wheel.  “It’s a great way to travel,” he said. “You’ll save gas with the prices it’s at right now, and save plenty of time not dealing with traffic.” High-speed rail officials say this development helped achieve environmental clearance for nearly 400 miles of the project’s 500-mile Phase 1 alignment from San Francisco to the Los Angeles and Anaheim area. This includes a stretch from Merced to Palmdale, and Burbank to Los Angeles — a section cleared earlier this year.

The project is also set to “modernize and electrify” an existing rail corridor between San Jose and Gilroy, allowing for high speed rail and Caltrans services. This alignment includes more than 15 miles of tunnels through the Pacheco Pass in the Diablo Range. Gilroy Mayor Marie Blankley is calling it “the next most significant transit hub” behind San Jose.  “Gilroy Transit Center is very much ready for this to happen,” Blankley said.   Salinas resident Christian Lopez says he hopes the high speed rail will make for a better traveling experience. “Maybe it can help take vehicles off the freeways and they can lessen how crowded it is at airports,” he said. Construction for the high-speed rail is ongoing along 119 miles in the Central Valley at 35 active job sites. “The authority is poised to make the vision of high-speed rail in the Bay Area a reality,” Authority CEO Brian Kelly said. “We look forward to continued collaboration with our federal, state and local partners to advance the project in Northern California.”


An apartment sale in Visalia depicts the interest outside investors have shown in the Central Valley real estate market — particularly in the multi-family sector. The Mogharebi Group brokered the sale of ReNew, a two-story 128-unit apartment complex at 3315 Lovers Lane. The apartment complex built in 2008 sold for $30.65 million to a private Santa Barbara investment group from FPA Multifamily, according to a press release from the brokerage. There are 16 buildings on 6.76 acres, representing 18.9 units per acre with one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans. The complex also features a swimming pool, recreation room with wet bar, laundry facilities, clubhouse, spa and reserved parking.

“The Central Valley has long been thought of as strictly an agricultural area, but that is only one part of its economic story,” said Otto Ozen, executive vice president for The Mogharebi Group. “Government and healthcare are large and growing economic drivers, which combined with the region’s lower cost of living has resulted in an in-migration of people from higher-cost coastal cities. Yet new construction has not kept up with demand.  The strong regional economy and steady population growth combined with the high barriers to entry, has not been lost on investors.”

“Not only did we help the seller find ReNew a few years ago, but after 24 months, we were able to sell it for 50% higher price, which is indicative of growing investor interest for properties in the Central Valley,” Ozen said.

From Sacramento to Bakersfield, the region has 1,055 multifamily properties of 50 units or more. Over the last two years, 445 of those properties have traded hands, with The Mogharebi Group brokering 10% of those transactions, according to the release. Over those two years, the average sales price per unit increased 21% from $111,275 to $135,444. High end apartment complexes experienced the highest increases, growing 28% from $228,465 to $292,412.

High-speed rail between San Jose, Central Valley receives final EIR certification

High-speed rail between San Jose and the Central Valley took a step closer to becoming reality after the final environmental impact report was certified Thursday. In a unanimous vote, the High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors approved the 90-mile section stretching from Diridon Station in San Jose to Merced. “Today’s approval represents another major milestone and brings us one step closer to delivering high-speed rail between the Silicon Valley and the Central Valley,” Authority CEO Brian Kelly said in a statement. “The Authority is poised to make the vision of high-speed rail in the Bay Area a reality.” The approval moves the project closer to being “shovel ready” once funding becomes available, officials said. Currently, construction is underway between Madera County and Bakersfield in the Central Valley.

Once high-speed rail is complete between San Jose and Fresno, officials said the travel time between the two cities would be one hour, compared to three hours by car. “Completion of this critically important high-speed rail project helps the state expand economic opportunity and affordable housing, two critical goals for all of us,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. In its decision, the board selected “Alternative 4” out of the four alignments studied. As part of the project, the existing rail corridor between San Jose and Gilroy would be electrified, allowing for both high-speed rail and Caltrain service. From Gilroy, the rail line would head east into the Central Valley, with 15 miles of tunnels through the Pacheco Pass in the Diablo Range. “Next to San Jose, Gilroy will be the next most significant transit hub on this stretch,” Gilroy Mayor Marie Blankley said, noting the city’s transit center is “very much ready for this to happen.”

Despite years of delays and cost overruns, the project, which aims to connect the Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California with high-speed trains, continues to have high support. A recent poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found Californians back high-speed rail by a five-to-three margin. According to officials, 400 miles out of the 500 mile alignment of the system have been environmentally cleared. Sections that remain to be cleared include San Francisco to San Jose, Palmdale to Burbank and Los Angeles to Anaheim. The agency’s board of directors said it would consider final EIR certification for the San Francisco to San Jose segment this summer.

States with the biggest agriculture industry

Most Americans don’t recognize just how much the agriculture industry affects their everyday lives. The connection is not solely confined to your grocery store, either—industries affected by the agricultural sector include food/beverage service, forestry, and textiles, just to name a few. Less than 2% of the American workforce was directly employed in agriculture in the year 2000, a drastic transition from 40% a century earlier. To improve consumer’s relationships with this industry, organizations like Future Farmers of America and 4-H help to bridge the gap between consumers and farmers and fight agricultural illiteracy from youth.

Stacker ranked each U.S. state by the size of its agriculture industry. To come up with the list, we analyzed USDA data including 2018 state agricultural overview reports and commodity values from 2012 ranked by the total value of agricultural products sold. We also took a look at the economic and environmental impact of the agriculture industry for each state, based on data from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, as well as how the industry affects residents and what aspects about that state make it ideal for agriculture.

States like Alaska and Hawaii generated a wide range of unique agricultural commodities due to climates that differ from the rest of the country. States such as Texas and Wisconsin produced crops and livestock like cotton, cattle, and dairy cows known worldwide for their quality. Of course, there are always the corn belt states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas that provide a majority of the country’s corn supply thanks to level landscapes and nitrogen-rich soil. Keep reading to see where your state’s agriculture industry ranks.

Real estate forecast spotlights uneven recovery

Optimism sounded from every corner of Bakersfield’s real estate industry at an annual outlook event Tuesday, though some sectors were giddier than others as the pandemic has uneven effects on different kinds of local property. Bullishness led among housing specialists — both multifamily rental and single-family — followed by industrial property, the long-time local favorite. The office market came off as weaker than the rest but, like retail, may have fared better than had been expected. At heart an economic update, the Institute of Real Estate Management’s 10th annual forecast breakfast focused on popular concerns such as rising inflation, interest rates and construction costs. Speakers pointed to continuing challenges such as supply chain problems, but most characterized local and national business activity as having rebounded from the economic wreckage of 2020 and in some respects surpassed 2019’s peak.

Among the biggest news of the day was word that institutional investors have entered the local rental housing market after historically ignoring the Central Valley. Multifamily real estate specialist Marc Thurston with ASU Commercial said during the event, and elaborated by phone afterward, that two of three buyers who recently came in on private jets have since secured property locally. But because they couldn’t find any built units for sale, he added, both plan to develop new projects. He declined to identify the investors, saying only they were attracted to the fact that some apartment rents in Bakersfield recently topped $2,000 per month, and that they were impressed by the relative openness of the local economy. With the citywide occupancy hovering at historic lows, he said there will be unmet demand even if each project totals as many as 1,000 new rental units. “It doesn’t begin to address the shortage that we have here,” he said.

A similar imbalance is at play in the single-family market, where new President Anna Albiar of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors noted a shortage of inventory has coincided with strong demand — “the recipe for increasing prices,” she said. Kern’s housing affordability, defined as the capacity of a local resident of average income to afford a home selling at the area’s median price, is 45 percent. Albiar pointed out that compares favorably with the statewide rate of 24 percent. Albiar dismissed comparisons to the 2006-07 housing bust, saying buyers back then had far less “skin in the game” when borrowing. New homeowners these days put more money down and so “it’s harder for them to walk away and leave that investment,” she said. Albiar added that although interest rates are expected to rise, they remain historically low.

President and CEO A.J. Antongiovanni of Mission Bank, delivering the event’s highest-level economic overview, said the national economy is exceptional and that spending is exceeding 2019 levels. He called the pandemic so far a “bump in the road,” though he observed that prices and wages are up “and I don’t think that’s temporary.”

Industrial property specialist Oscar Baltazar with Colliers International delivered an upbeat market assessment, saying demand is strong lately and predicting more investors will come north from Southern California. The metro area’s industrial property vacancy rate fell from 4.9 percent in 2020 to 3.2 percent in 2021, he said, as the market expanded more than 3 percent to 63 million square feet. He listed new projects including a 3-acre meat processing facility coming to southeast Bakersfield and a new transmission manufacturing plant. “I believe that rents will continue to go up, construction will go up,” Baltazar said.

Office specialist Matthew Starr with ASU Commercial challenged the notion office space “is dead” in the face of the mass migration to work-from-home arrangements. While there’s likely to be a combination of remote work and in-person labor, he said, company culture is generally created in the office, and work-life balance suffers when business is done from the kitchen. He added that employers appear to be reversing the trend of dedicating less office space per employee. Demand is steadily recovering, Starr said, and there’s no sign of a flood of vacancies ahead. Although oil industry tenants may pull back because of state regulation, he said demand has diversified among users like health care, government, financial services and agriculture. Starr predicted high construction costs will limit the pipeline of new projects and the local vacancy rate is unlikely to top 12 percent, having recently surpassed 11 percent.

Retail broker Vince Roche at Cushman & Wakefield highlighted bright spots like greater integration of food in shopping centers, a dip in online shopping in 2021 and recent local investments by big national retailers like Dutch Bros., Aldi and Raising Cane’s. He acknowledged challenges to tenants like movie theaters, health clubs and museums but pointed to promising adaptive reuse projects like the new Amazon distribution hub at the former Kmart on Wilson Road. Another focus was the Westside Parkway, which he said may have the largest benefit of any local public works project in decades in the way it allows shoppers to get to goods and services much more quickly and efficiently.

CSUB in line for $83 million for energy innovation center in governor’s proposed budget

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his new proposed 2022-23 budget Monday morning, and it contains a nice plum for Bakersfield – a plum that could be worth a third of a billion dollars.

What’s the purpose of this seeming windfall? Addressing climate change and the vulnerable Kern County economy. The Kern County oil industry has faced unprecedented challenges over the past two-plus years as Sacramento has worked toward ambitious climate change goals.The number and severity of recently imposed restrictions on petroleum extraction by the state make it clear where this is all headed. That of course prompts the question  – where does that leave the Kern County economy, which relies so heavily on the oil industry? We got an important part of the answer Monday when Newsom – in revealing his proposed 2022-23 state budget –  announced his intention to give $83 million to CSU Bakersfield to research new directions in energy development as the state reduces its use of fossil fuels.  “$537 million will be going to the CSU [system] with the support of the legislature,” Newsom said.  “[Of that] $304 million [is] ongoing, and then new dollars [would be coming] as part of the budget…. On- time money, including a Bakersfield innovation center. Bakersfield, in Kern County, [is] at the center of this transition to low carbon, green growth. (It’s a) remarkable CSU [campus]. …. $83 million investment there.”

CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said the innovation center will help chart the energy future of the state – and the nation. “We are here in the epicenter of energy for the state, for the nation,” she said. “This the right place for that work to happen. So what we’ve proposed was actually a building that will be at the center of research and development for energy innovation. I really do appreciate his trust in moving this forward. He has also given us money for additional faculty that will come to be part of this research center.”

Fourty-four new faculty, to be exact, taking up residency in the California Energy Research center – 74,000 square feet on three levels, with 17 laboratory spaces, including a fabrication lab. No groundbreaking date has been set. The funding is not assured. The governor said higher education will play a crucial part of the state’s plan to address climate change. “We’re very mindful,” Newsom said, “that if we’re going to sprint in this transition we’ve got to support a thoughtful framework.”

The governor’s proposed budget would also add $250 million to help workers train for and find new jobs outside the oil extraction industries. Zelezny says she expects that several institutions of higher learning will participate in that aspect of the plan. All together, that’s a third of a billion dollars that’s being directed toward helping Kern County move away from something that’s been part of its economy and its culture for more than 125 years.


For Kings County, 2021 brought a significant economic rebound from the tumultuous 2020. According to Kings County Economic Overview report for 2021 produced by JobsEQ, over the year ending in the second quarter, employment increased 6.4% in the region. Average annual wages per worker in the county was $52,775 as of Q2, a 9.3% increase in the region over the preceding four quarters. Over the year, employment in Kings County expanded by 419 jobs. Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction is projected to be the fastest growing sector in the region with a 2.7% year-over-year rate of growth. With the shock brought to the medical industry in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, it is no surprise that sector is expected to see the most growth in terms of sole job numbers.

It is forecast that over the next year, the number of jobs for health care and social assistance will grow by more than 209; more than 50 jobs for agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; and more than 37 jobs for accommodation and food services. Lance Lippincott, director of economic and workforce development for the Kings County Economic Development Corporation, said that commercial retail took the biggest hit from the pandemic, but that that larger industries such as ag are expected to continue with strong performance. Central Valley Meat Co. will expand its processing plant in Hanford by nearly 130 acres next year, expanding is processing capability from abut 1,500 cattle a day to about 4,500 a day. In phase 2 of the expansion, a new 103,000 square-foot processing facility will be added along with a 187,000 square-foot freezer. Lippincott said that one of the biggest economic boosts for the region in 2021 was new cannabis businesses, including the Deli by Caliva Dispensary in Hanford.

The industry is expected to keep growing with more dispensaries coming online in 2022. Though its had a long local history of “will they or wont they?,” smart car manufacture Faraday Future held a job fair early in November to gear up for production at its Hanford facility in 2022. The electric vehicle startup tech company is expected to bring more than 1,300 jobs to the city. On the manufacturing side, agricultural and specialty formulator and distributor Helena Agri-Enterprises will be building a facility in Lemoore’s industrial park. The state-of-the-art facility will cover over 130,000 square feet and have some retail space at the front. In the real estate neighborhood, Lippincott said the EDC is seeing larger projects requesting site selections that cover nearly 400 to 500 acres. “We are starting to see that movement up from Los Angeles and from the Bay Area to more inexpensive land in the Central Valley,” Lippincott said. Lippincott said that several residential housing projects have been approved in the county for up to 1,000 homes.

A shrinking inventory of available spaces for both commercial and industrial sectors is a positive sign for business, Lippincott said. Though Kings County does have a cost of living that is almost 7% higher than the nation’s average, it is still cheaper than many other regions in California. “This area is incredibly affordable on the U.S. average, and in the upcoming year, that’s going to channel a lot of growth to us and the Central Valley as a whole,” Lippincott said.

At the Kings County Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO Benjamin Kahikina said some of the biggest projects for 2022 are in development and housing growth, especially in regard to affordable housing sustainability. With the residential growth projected for the upcoming year, Kahikina said he expects new businesses to follow. Kings County is trying to annex land for a project that would extend the boundaries of Kettleman City.

Kahikina said that the chamber is in contact with people who are interested in developing businesses, but aren’t familiar with the process. Chamber officials are trying to convince more businesses to open up a brick-and-mortar store to revitalize downtowns such as Lemoore’s. There will be an effort to connect with newer and younger entrepreneurs that may be operating out of their home. “We are excited to bring everything we have learned from the pandemic in 2020, and going into 2021, and to bring that in to 2022 and offer new resources and start connecting with younger audiences as well.”


Experts largely see Fresno County reaping the benefits of what the deadly virus changed culturally. Remote work, a dire need for housing and the demand for warehouse space have sent millions of dollars to area. But rising entitlement costs and dwindling development space have tempered the potential for growth. Industrial real estate has been the largest benefactor of stay-at-home orders with warehouses hiring thousands of people in Fresno and Visalia. But in both cities, available shovel-ready land has largely been exhausted. “Fresno County has been the center for people from all over the state and all over the country looking at expanding or for a new place to move,” said Lee Ann Eager, CEO of the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation.

Industrial brokers often tell Eager Fresno has become a hot market. But with vacancy rates at .02%, there isn’t much available. New construction sites have nearly been exhausted. Earlier this year the EDC spoke with a company that wanted to bring a 1 million square-foot warehouse to the area and 2,500 jobs. Eager had to say no because she estimated the process would take three years whereas they wanted to be up and running in 18 months.

A land-use study by Fresno County officials for 3,000 acres in Southeast Fresno will hopefully go before the board in January 2022 for approval to begin an environmental impact review so the county can begin installing infrastructure on the land, speeding up development times for businesses looking to locate here. Among five sections of land, Eager estimates there are about 20 landowners each the County would have to negotiate with to secure land. Unlike high-speed rail, Eager said the County will not use eminent domain.

Additionally, they have been begun talking with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to explore pollution impacts to the area. Industrial development has been a hot button issue after community members worked for years to get regional specific plans approved with the City of Fresno. An Amazon sorting facility set to open in the beginning of the year at North Pointe Business Park was only approved after it reached an agreement with community organizations to upgrade streets and outfit homes to better withstand sound and pollution impacts from trucks.

Community members in Southwest Fresno have often expressed their desire for more retail businesses rather than industrial development at community meetings and Planning Commission meetings. Eager said retailers have their own metrics about population densities as well as area median incomes before locating. Nonetheless, initial plans for the 3,000 acres would put retail zoning around the perimeter to create a buffer zone for communities such as Malaga. It’s not just been industrial development that has been hot in Fresno. Eager has been working with partners in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, courting service-type businesses to expand to Fresno County. Unlike industrial land, there is office space available. The most recent industry report from Newmark Pearson Commercial in Q4 2020 has office vacancies at 10.4% with a 12-month forecast for that number to rise.

New construction for office space is beset by lenders waiting to see what the future of the service industry has in store. The same can be said for most retail, said Alan Rurik and Tom Walker, partners with Capitalize, a commercial lending broker in Fresno. Companies such as Adobe, Amazon and Apple have all made announcements that workers would continue to work from home. This has spurred lenders to scrutinize when providing loans for new construction, said Rurik. “It’s not an immediate ‘no’ if you bring in a retail center, but it’s kind of getting back to blocking and tackling, It’s like — what’s the tenant mix, what’s the location?” Walker said. “If you can’t check the boxes, you don’t have the minimum requirements then you’re probably going to have a really difficult time getting a loan in today’s environment.”


The economic whiplash of the nearly two years of a global health crisis has exposed a well-reported labor shortage, supply chain issues and inflation. In Tulare County, industrial growth is keeping things steady. Tulare County Economic Development Corporation CEO Nathan Ahle says the spotlight is on the Visalia Industrial Park. Tulare County continues to see much industrial growth, including the recently opened Amazon warehouse and an Ace Hardware logistics facility, which was announced recently. Ace Hardware is 1 million square feet and is set to provide 400 jobs.

The industrial park is master planned to serve many years of growth, Ahle said. Interest in the area continues to gain traction. “Land is going quickly and projects are getting built and spec buildings are being built, or they’re being built to suit. And we’re seeing a lot of demand in that area for sure,” Ahle said. The City of Porterville is also poised for growth, he said. It shows promise, especially because it’s had one of the most heavily trafficked Walmart distribution centers in the country for decades. “Cities that may not be on the 99 but certainly have that potential would be right there in Porterville,” Ahle said.

The City of Tulare will also see significant development over the next three to five years surrounding the International Agri-Center. There will be a new interchange off of Highway 99.