VOLT Institute

VOLT Institute Implements Changes for Enhanced Realism in Training

Enhancing Practical Skills and Safety: VOLT Institute is rolling out changes starting this March to make its training more reflective of real-world job experiences in production settings. Key updates include a stricter emphasis on attendance, punctuality, continuous safety practices, and lean manufacturing principles, notably 5S and TIMWOODS wastes, along with GEMBA, JIT, and Kaizen for continuous improvement. Shifts and Timeclock Integration: To mimic actual job settings, students will now use a timeclock for tracking attendance, refer to sessions as “shifts”, and participate in shift change meetings to discuss safety, key topics, and foster engagement in learning and skills development.

Expanding Access with VOLT On the Go (VOTG)

Reaching Underserved Communities: Funded by an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant, VOTG aims to extend VOLT’s educational offerings to investors and underserved communities. The program provides practical knowledge in essential technical areas through a hands-on approach, enabling entry into the job market. Partnerships with Amatrol and SACA support equipment provision and micro-certification, ensuring significant skill development. Successful Launch and Future Plans: The VOTG Mechanical Drives course, initiated in partnership with Turlock Adult School, saw a promising start with 13 attendees learning vital mechanical skills. With more classes on the horizon, these courses, free to the public via an EDA grant, offer invaluable “hands-on” training within local communities.

VOLT On the Go Gains Momentum

Highlight at Economic Elevate: At the recent Turlock Economic Elevate, VOLT showcased the VOTG program’s potential to empower local communities and attract investor interest. Demonstrations of Amatrol’s portable training units underscored the program’s flexibility and efficiency in delivering technical skills training on the go.

New Scholarship Opportunities

Supporting Local Residents: New scholarships, thanks to contributions from several city councils and Aemetis Inc., are now available for residents interested in pursuing maintenance mechanic careers at VOLT Institute, demonstrating ongoing community support and commitment to workforce development.


Big Lots opening in Madera? What does Ross sign mean?

Madera residents have made it known that they’d like more shopping options in their own city. The appearance of a Ross Stores sign at the Madera Marketplace shopping center sparked an excited social media conversation among them about when a location might open on Cleveland Avenue, just west of Highway 99. It’s the latest indication that bigger retail might be looking at the city of Madera more than it has in the past. In fact, Big Lots, the discount retailer, said several years ago that it would be coming back to Madera. Locals have been wondering if it will ever happen. The 36,760 square-foot space the discount retailer was set to occupy in the Country Club Village shopping center, just east of Highway 99, has been empty for two years. Big Lots said it has not abandoned plans to open a store at 1143 Country Club Dr.

“The original opening dates were pushed back due to some construction delays, but we’re on track for a summer 2024 grand opening,” company spokesperson Joshua Chaney said in an email to The Bee. Big Lots stores typically employ around 25 to 30 full and part-time associates, Chaney said. Jobs available for the Madera store will be posted on the company’s careers web page a few months ahead of the summer opening. As Madera grows, residents increasingly crave more retail options and often complain on social media that they’re tired of driving to Fresno and other far off points to find the big retail options they want. The city of 68,000 people has been growing, seeing a population increase of nearly 11% since 2010. In the past few months, they’ve seen the opening of a Smart & Final store and an In-N-Out restaurant in the same corridor where Ross is set to open. Ross Stores would not provide details about when it will open the store planned for the tenant space next to the city’s Smart & Final store. Pearson Companies CEO Peter J. Orlando, a real estate broker who works with Ross Stores in the Central Valley, wrote in an email to The Bee that it could be a few months before a date is known.


Ever-expanding Tesoro Viejo adds 1,000 lots in Madera. High school, athletic facilities planned

Tesoro Viejo — Madera’s mammoth planned community — took another step Tuesday toward greater expansion as the county’s planning commission approved more than a thousand new residential lots. The subdivision maps approved by the commission set the stage for development in four of the community’s nine planned neighborhoods: Arroyo Village, The Vistas, Oak Knoll Village and The Vineyard.

The growing community already has an onsite K-8 school, a town center, an amphitheater and ranch houses for residents to hang out in — all surrounded by the Rio Mesa’s hilly landscape and bordered to the southeast by the San Joaquin River. Still in the works are an on-site school that also serves high school students, and the Rio Mesa Education Complex, which will include athletic facilities.

Brent McCaffrey, president of McCaffrey Homes, Tesoro Viejo’s developer, told the county’s planning commission he expects the education complex to be completed in the next few years. An age-qualified senior development on the southern edge is also in planning. According to McCaffrey’s presentation, homes planned for construction in each neighborhood are: 307 in Arroyo Village, 259 in The Vistas, 317 in The Vineyards, and 175 in Oak Knoll Village

Tesoro Viejo broke ground in the county’s Rio Mesa area in 2017. It falls under the county’s Rio Mesa Area Plan, a nearly 15,000-acre space bordered by Highway 145 to the north, Millerton Lake to the east, the San Joaquin River to the southeast and Highway 41 to the west. The county hopes to see the full 30,000 homes in the next 30 years.

Jamie Bax, Madera County’s director of community and economic development, said Tesoro Viejo has 922 projects in different phases of construction. The community was recognized this year as the National Community of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders. The Bee spoke to several residents who said that the broader development was starting to feel like a real community.

Lisa Wells, 57, and Laura Rios, 33, neighbors in the Hillside community, said they immediately “hit it off” when they moved in about four years ago. “We immediately became family,” Rios said.

Neighbors said book and bicycling clubs have formed. Brian and Renee Curwick, a married couple who also live in Hillside, joined a local running club before they even moved into the development.

“It absolutely has become a community in a short time,” Brian Curwick said.

So far, Tesoro Viejo has homes in three neighborhoods: Hillside Village, Creekside Village and The Plaza. KB Homes and De Young Properties are also developing homes there. According to McCaffrey’s presentation to the county and conversation with the Bee: 804 homes are planned for Hillside Village, with about 705 homeowners already living there 544 homes are planned for Creekside Village, with a few dozen homeowners already living there About 1,560 homes are planned for The Plaza, with approximately 46 already sold.

Upcoming in this neighborhood are also about 540 apartments, 230 duplexes and 250 “Wildrose” homes In The Plaza, sales are set to begin for Tesoro Viejo’s “Boulevard” product – two-story homes ranging in size from 1,200 to 1,700 square feet. Already on the market are the “Poppy” homes, which McCaffrey said are designed to be affordable for first-time home buyers. Prices for Poppy homes start in the $300,000s. “Tesoro Viejo is not about high-end living,” McCaffrey said. “We have made a commitment to having products that are available for all walks of life or demographics.”

Homes in the highest price ranges start in the high $500,000s with the Oaks collection and in the high $600,000s with the Ivy Collection, which has homes of more than 4,000 square feet. Different price ranges will also be found in the new subdivisions. McCaffrey said construction on Rio Mesa Boulevard — a new north-south road that will begin about 2,200 feet east of the Avenue 12 and Highway 41 intersection and traverse a few miles north to Avenue 15 — is expected to begin in the second quarter of next year. Traffic on Highway 41 has increased from an average of 29,000 daily trips when the development first began to about 40,000 daily trips today, he said.



New development planned in 2024

New year, new construction planned throughout the city of Turlock. From houses to hotels, recreational spots to restaurants, here is a list of some things to expect in 2024.


New homes and apartments are expected to come to Turlock, with several already having been built.

Northeast Turlock has seen the development of new residential neighborhoods, which are being tabbed as the Legends North III, a project spearheaded by JKB Living. The new community will have 65 building sites with there being six different floor plans. There will also be a centralized neighborhood park.

Perhaps the largest residential project expected to be completed in 2024 is the Monte Vista Apartments at 1525 W. Monte Vista Ave., a 348-unit multi-family residential project. It was approved in August of 2021 and construction began this past May. There will be 12 three-story buildings approximately 40 feet in height, with each unit including a patio or balcony area. An exact competition date has not been shared.

Over in west Turlock at the vacant lot on the corner of 1150 Angelus St. and 700 S. Soderquist Rd., an application was approved in August to develop three properties with a total of seven residential units. Each unit will have two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, and an outdoor patio area. The project was originally intended to be finished in 2022, but delays in the planning process pushed construction and opening to this year.


Two new hotels have been approved and are expected to be finished in 2024.

The first is the Marriott Towneplace at 201 N. Tully Rd., which was approved in Sept. of 2022. It will stand at 61 feet and 6 inches from grade to highest point. With these measurements, it will be the highest hotel in Turlock by 1 foot and 6 inches.

The other is Staybridge Suites at 2931 Sun Valley Ct. The hotel was approved in May and will also receive a 35-foot height limit exception.

Gas stations

Despite the sales of electric vehicles estimated to surpass over 1 million in 2023, according to Wards Intelligence and Cox Automotive, gas stations and accommodating convenience stores will continue to pop up around town.

In October, a Valero gas station and Circle K store opened at 2500 Fulkerth Rd. Joining it will be new stations at 4201 N. Golden State Blvd. and 129 E. Linwood Ave., respectively, though the brand of gas at each site has not been revealed.

In addition, there has been another gas station proposed for 4555 N. Golden State Blvd. A hearing date for this proposal has not been settled on.

Food and drink

Soon to neighbor the Valero gas station and Circle K mart on 2500 Fulkerth Rd. will be a Rally’s fast-food restaurant. The national chain is known for their burgers and fries. The project was originally expected to finish this past summer, and it is unclear why there has been a delay in construction.

There is another nationally known brand breaking ground in Turlock, and it’s one that Turlockers have become all too familiar with — Starbucks. Starbucks opened their 10th overall location and sixth standalone establishment in the city in late 2023 at 3085 N. Tegner Rd. A seventh standalone site, this one at 1100 W. Monte Vista Ave., is expected to open in the first quarter of 2024.

Aside from national chains, a family-owned Mexican restaurant will be built downtown at 309 N. Center St. The name is Nivel, which is Spanish for “Level.” It’s pretty self explanatory as the approved building will be two stories. The applicants hope that the new restaurant can become a hub for live entertainment, such as mariachi bands.


One of the most anticipated projects of the year will be the Columbia Pool on Columbia Avenue near Beech Street

The Columbia Pool was first constructed in 1957 and has undergone only minor repairs since 1990. The pool has been closed since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held at the pool site in early November. The project will cost $9,076,087.28, which takes into account construction, demolition of the old pool, and the purchase of pre-built structures for a concession stand, restrooms and a facilities/storage hut.


West Turlock will see two major industrial projects completed this year.

The first project expected to be finished is the 10,000 square-foot expansion of Valley Milk, LLC’s processing facility at 400 N Washington Rd. The expansion will allow the plant to start producing Anhydrous Milk Fat, which is a concentrated, lactose-free butter with a fat content of 99.8%. It is used for cooking and frying as well as a shortening for shortbread, praline fillings, chocolate, chocolate bars and ice cream. The project is expected to be done early this year.

Nearby at 4407 W. Main St., Massachusetts-based technology company Divert Inc. plans to build a new, 71,000 square-foot state-of-the-art food recovery facility. The facility, which is also expected to open in the first quarter of 2024, liquifies and purifies unsold food and processes it into a clean food slurry. The slurry is then pumped directly into an on-site anaerobic digester, where it is turned into biogas, a mixture of gasses, primarily consisting of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. The equipment then removes impurities from the biogas and upgrades it into pipeline quality Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) to meet utility company standards.

Divert has come to an interconnection agreement with PG&E. When the project is completed and operational, the processed RNG will enter PG&E’s on-site transmission line, replacing fossil fuel gas with a carbon negative renewable fuel to supply homes and businesses.

Note: Expected completion dates for each project are subject to change.


Fresno EDC, City Council To Explore Enticing Microchip Makers To Town

Fresno City Councilmember Nelson Esparza, in cooperation with Fresno Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Will Oliver, announced plans Tuesday to incentivize businesses to invest and develop semiconductor manufacturing in the city under the federal Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) program.

At a city hall news conference, Esparza and Oliver discussed the Fresno CHIPs Incentive Act, which aims to bring a competitive edge to the city in attracting the semiconductor industry to be part of the growing U.S. supply chain and innovation ecosystem.

Signed into law during the first year of President Biden’s administration, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 aims to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and supply chains and invest more than $50 billion in research and development to ensure the U.S. continues to lead in nanotechnology, clean energy, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

Incentives under the local proposal, to be considered by the Fresno City Council at its Thursday meeting, would allow eligible companies to receive tax breaks with the city, with the incentives being determined in part by the number of jobs created.

Joined by Oliver and Esparza were Fresno Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Miller, San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Association CEO Genelle Taylor Kumpe and City Attorney Andrew Janz.

“This legislation will provide us the edge we need to be competitive in this market as the industry begins to grow again here on U.S. soil. Fresno can lead the way in attracting those companies in the semi-conductor supply chain here in the Central Valley,” Esparza said.

He said the local legislation is complementary to the federal CHIPS act, making companies’ federal applications more competitive for securing local incentives.

Esparza said this legislation will be the first local CHIPS incentive act in California that is not tied to a state or federal municipality.

According to the proposal, the city will be looking at companies willing to commit capital investments of $20 million to $300 million and more.

Incentive amounts could range from 30-35% of capital investments.

Esparza said they are attempting to make a semiconductor hub in Fresno, positioning the city as a center for technological advancement and economic growth.

Oliver noted that the Fresno EDC was awarded $23 million dollars form the Good Jobs Challenge grant, meant to be used for recruiting and training the workforce.

He said the city has a unique position from an economic and logistical standpoint, offering a natural competitiveness and a strategic location between the major seaports of the state — as well as an available workforce.

The Fresno CHIPS Act program will not only attract semiconductor manufacturers, but complementary companies such as suppliers and distributors as well.

Every $15 invested for projects by companies will be matched with $1 locally to match the economic diversification and growth, Oliver said.

“We think this is great precedent moving forward to realign incentives to our community, our race to the top, living wages, access to health care and benefits, and access to jobs created by companies that are here to grow our economy and community,” Oliver said.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Nine Central Valley companies scratched out a spot on the 2023 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in the U.S.

National business magazine Inc. ranked participating private companies on three-year revenue growth — from 2019 to 2022 — for this year’s list. The minimum revenue required for 2019 is $100,000; the minimum for 2022 is $2 million.

To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2019. They must be U.S.-based, privately held, for-profit and independent — not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies — as of Dec. 31, 2022.

The annual list of 5,000 U.S. firms reflects companies with the greatest impact on the U.S. economy, according to Inc. They reported a combined $358 billion in 2022 revenue and created more than 1.1 million jobs.

“Overall, median revenue growth for the top 500 com­panies in 2022 ticked up to 2,238 percent from 2,144 percent the previous year,” according to Inc. “Those metrics add up to a lot of very determined entrepreneurs looking for solutions to the biggest problems facing us today.”

Fresno’s Empower Solar logged in at No. 78 on the list with three-year revenue growth of 5,981%. Under the leadership of Landon Wimmer, the company founded in 2019 is a residential and small business solar installation company.

The following local companies also made the Inc. 5000 list for 2023.

No. 535
Balanced Comfort
1,094% growth

No. 1,571
EZ ELD Solutions
363% growth
Logistics & transportation

No. 1,843
Sierra Pacific Group
304% growth
Business products and services

No. 3,072
169% growth
Health services

No. 3,078
EKC Enterprises
168% growth
Business products and services

No. 3,434
Clark Bros.
145% growth

No. 4,054
Anderson Real Estate Group
113% growth
Real estate

No. 4,509
Lee’s Air, Plumbing, & Heating
93% growth



Lathrop — powered by new home sales in the 15,001-home planned River Islands community — was California’s fastest growing city during 2022 based on new growth. The State Department of Finance Monday reported that Lathrop’s estimated population soared past the 35,000 mark as of Jan. 1 to reach 35,080 residents. That reflects an 11.1 percent year-to-year gain. It is important to note Lathrop’s population surge was based on new growth. Overall on the state’s list, Lathrop comes in at No. 2 for population growth at 11.1 percent.

Topping the list is Paradise with a 24.1 percent jump to 9,941 residents. To put that in perspective, before the 2018 wildfires wiped out much of the Butte County community killing 86 people in 2018, Paradise had 26,532  residents. Its population dropped to 4,719 in 2019. In the Department of Finance’s list of cities over 30,000, Lathrop was first at 11.1 percent while Manteca was fifth at 2.3 percent. All cities combined, Lathrop would drop to second and Manteca to sixth due to the rebuilding  in Paradise. Between both Manteca and Lathrop, there are 123,883 residents.

In raw population gain, Lathrop added 3,505 residents for the top overall gain in the state. Manteca was sixth with 2,019 additional residents. In 2021, Lathrop had added 1,947 residents to be ranked as 13th largest numerical gain in the state that year. Right behind Lathrop at 14th in 2021 with 1,864 additional residents was Manteca. But given Manteca is roughly three times larger in population, Lathrop’s additional residents translated into a 6.63 percent growth rate as opposed to Manteca’s 2.19 percent growth rate that made it California’s 25th fastest growing city in 2021.

Manteca has consistently been adding between 1,600 and 2,200 residents during the past 8 years. Both Lathrop and Manteca are on pace to build roughly the same number of new housing units this year that they did in 2022. Manteca added 1,094 housing units last year to bring the city’s total to 30,399. Lathrop added 1,391 housing units last year to bring the city’s total to 10,388. Lathrop — as of Jan. 1, 2022 — was at 35,080 residents and Manteca at 88,803. Tracy, with 30,275 housing units last year, has a population of 95,615. That means household sizes are larger in Tracy than Manteca. Tracy, with 124 housing units less than Manteca, has 6,198 more residents. Tracy added 785 residents last year compared to 2,019 for Manteca.

In 2022, only 125 of the state’s 482 cities gained population. The Northern San Joaquin Valley — San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced continues — continued to be one of the only two regions to grow collectively in population in California, although ever so slightly. The other was the Inland Empire in Southern California consisting of Riverside and San Bernadino counties.

The Northern San Joaquín Valley was up 604 overall residents. It would have been more but Stanislaus County lost 2,780 residents that cut into a 3,384 gain in San Joaquin County and a 1,202 gain in Merced County.

City population changes for

Northern San Joaquin Valley

Cities in the three-county Northern San Joaquin Valley region that gained residents and their estimated population as of Jan. 1, 2023 are as follows:

*Tracy went from 94,830 to 95,615.

*Manteca went from 86,784 to 88,803.

*Lathrop went from 31,575 to 35,080.

*Patterson went from 24,142 to 22,980

*Riverbank went from 24,670 to 24,695.

*Waterford went from 8,932 to 9,042.

*Hughson went from 7,497 to 7,565.

*Merced went from 88,657 to 90,116.

*Los Banos went from 46,827 to 47,347.

Cities in the three-county Northern San Joaquin Valley region that lost residents and their estimated population as of Jan. 1, 2023 are as follows:

*Stockton went from 321,911 to 319,731.

*Lodi went from 66,305 to 66,239.

*Ripon went from 15,921 to 15,769.

*Escalon went from 7,338 to 7,264.

*Modesto went from 217,699 to 216,995.

*Turlock went from 71,214 to 70,856.

*Ceres went from 48,207 to 47,27.

*Oakdale went from 23,241 to 22,980.

*Newman went from 12,162 to 12,040.

*Atwater went from 31,629 to 31,418.

*Livingston went from 14,352 to 14,257.

*Gustine went from 5,985 to 5,945.

*Dos Palos went from 5,697 to 5,640.

San Joaquin County overall, went from 782,811 to 786,145 residents.

Merced County went from 284,149 to 285,337.

Stanislaus County dropped from 548,719 to 54,939.

The three-county region now has a population of 1,617,421.

Overall population as well as

housing trends in California

Stable births, fewer deaths, and a rebound in foreign immigration slowed California’s recent population decline in 2022, with the state’s population estimated at 38,940,231 people as of Jan. 1, 2023.

Over the same period, statewide housing growth increased to 0.85 percent – its highest level since 2008.

California added 123,350 housing units on net, including 20,683 accessory dwelling units (ADUs), to bring total housing in the state to 14,707,698 units. New construction represents 116,683 housing units with 63,423 single family housing units, 51,787 multi-family housing units, and 1,473 mobile homes.

The 0.35-percent population decline for 2022, roughly 138,400 persons, marks a slowdown compared to the recent decline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between 2021 and 2022, California’s population decreased 0.53 percent or 207,800 persons, due mainly to sharp declines in natural increase and foreign immigration.

For 2022, natural increase – the net amount of births minus deaths — increased from 87,400 in 2021 to 106,900 in 2022. Births decreased slightly from 420,800 in 2021 to 418,800 in 2022, while deaths declined gradually from 333,300 persons in 2021 to 311,900 persons in 2022, respectively.

Foreign immigration nearly tripled in 2022 compared to the prior year, with a net gain of 90,300 persons in 2022 compared to 31,300 in 2021. While foreign immigration to California has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, natural increase has not rebounded.

Total births remain low due to fertility declines; while deaths have eased gradually from their pandemic peak, they remain elevated.

With slower domestic in-migration and increased domestic out-migration likely the result of work from-home changes, declines in net domestic migration offset the population gains from natural increase and international migration.

Among the highlights of the population report:

*Of the ten largest cities in California, only three gained population: Sacramento had the largest percentage gain in population (0.2 percent, or 1,203) followed by Bakersfield (0.2 percent, or 882) and Fresno (0.1 percent, or 599).

*Accessory dwelling unit production increased by 60.6 percent, with the state adding 20,638 ADUs in 2022.

*Group quarters represent 2.4 percent (926,000) of the total state population. This population includes those living in college dormitories (269,000) and in correctional facilities (168,000). In 2022, California’s group quarters population increased by 11,000 people or 1.2 percent.

*The college dormitory population grew by 16,000 (6.2 percent). Correctional facilities declined in population in 2022 by 4,200 people (-2.5 percent) across federal, state and local facilities.

*As college dormitory populations continue to return to a post- pandemic normal, several jurisdictions saw significant gains in population due to this population. The City of Arcata in Humboldt County grew by 4.1 percent due to a 45.1 percent increase at Cal Poly Humboldt. The City of Marina in Monterey County grew by 2.5 percent due to a 12.6 percent increase at California State University at Monterey Bay.

*State prisons are generally located in remote areas; as a result, increases or decreases can account for significant changes in their respective area populations. For example, prison declines led to population decreases in Susanville (-9.5 percent) in Lassen County, Calipatria (-5.6 percent) in Imperial County, and Crescent City (-4.4 percent) in Del Norte County.

*Population growth slowed but remained positive in the interior counties of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, while most counties saw declines, including every coastal county except San Benito (0.2 percent).

*Only two counties had growth above a half of a percent: Madera (0.6 percent) and Yuba (0.6 percent), due to housing gains.

*The next largest in percentage growth were San Joaquin (0.4 percent), Merced (0.4 percent), and Imperial (0.4 percent) counties.

*Forty-six of the state’s fifty-eight counties lost population. The ten largest percentage decreases were: Lassen (-4.3 percent), Del Norte (-1.3 percent), Plumas (-1.2 percent), Santa Cruz (-1.0 percent), Marin (-1.0 percent), Tehama (-1.0 percent), Napa (-1.0 percent), Lake (-0.9 percent), Monterey (-0.8 percent), and Los Angeles (-0.8 percent).

*The state’s three most populous counties all experienced population loss: Los Angeles declined by 73,293 persons (-0.75 percent), San Diego by 5,680 persons (-0.2 percent), and Orange by 14,782 persons (-0.5 percent).


‘A win for the entire region.’ Merced County awarded $49.6 million for Castle rail project

Merced County’s Castle Commerce Center is about to receive a huge boost in the form of a $49.6 million grant to build out an inland port that will improve its capacity to move freight worldwide. The California State Transportation Agency announced Merced County was awarded the grant on Thursday. “This will directly support our agricultural producers and manufacturers throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley,” said Merced County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott Silveira.

“This is a win for the entire region,” Silveira added. “From local agricultural producers to major manufacturers throughout the Valley, being able to transport goods in a quick and efficient manner is absolutely critical. This grant will position us to drive our economy in the right direction.” In January 2022, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed $1.2 billion for port and freight infrastructure to support the state’s goods movement networks, which have been hurt by global disruptions and increased port congestion in recent years. The grant will help the state develop a more efficient, sustainable and resilient goods movement system.

Castle’s rail district became operational in May 2022 under Patriot Rail, which operates the rail line and has already tripled the shipping volume to and from Castle in recent months, according to Merced County spokesperson Mike North. The grant will help area farmers, manufacturers and other businesses to ship and receive goods throughout the San Joaquin Valley cost effectively. “Castle’s inland port and rail activities is focused on increasing regional economic opportunities while reducing semi-truck traffic along our roadways,” North said. The $49.6 million grant will enhance Castle Commerce Center’s existing rail capacity by: Facilitating the development of 70 acres at Castle to support pre-shipment processing and intermodal cross-docking for Central Valley agricultural producers. Providing cost-effective, direct rail service for shippers. Expanding the railway to a new staging and container laydown area to support cross-docking and processing. Evaluating, engineering and planning for further expansion on existing land within Castle Commerce Center. Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel, whose District 3 includes Castle Commerce Center, said the inland port and rail district has been in the works for many years and is a major focal point for the county.

“This is a prime example of government facilitating an environment where the private sector can thrive,” McDaniel said. The Merced County inland port will support additional goods movement to and from the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Oakland while making Merced County a focal point for inland goods movement. The rail district expansion project is expected to be complete by mid-2028. “With all that has been accomplished to date and coupled with this sizable state investment, Castle is proving to be the leading economic development site in California,” said Assistant Merced County Executive Officer Mark Hendrickson.