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.

City of Wasco to benefit from latest California high-speed rail grant

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded a $24 million grant to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) which will be used to advance the nation’s first high-speed rail system while enhancing and better connecting the community of Wasco (Kern County).

Authority CEO, Brian Kelly, said: “High-speed rail is about connecting Californians and our diverse communities. As we build this transformative system, we continue to work and collaborate with communities throughout the state to create jobs, spur economic development, and improve quality of life.”

The RAISE grant stands for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, which the work enabled by this funding exemplifies. The Authority will use the $24 million for crucial safety, efficiency, and construction projects in and around Wasco, including:

  • Lowering State Route 46 to properly accommodate trucks passing under the railroad, which carries both passenger and freight trains, preventing polluting and heavy-duty trucks from using smaller neighborhood streets
  • Better and safer multimodal connectivity across the freight corridor with a new sidewalk, an enhanced State Route 46, and an efficient roundabout
  • Enhancing adjacent properties affected by the project and working with the City to prepare them for improved land use and economic development.

“The City of Wasco is very pleased with the announcement,” said City Manager, Scott Hurlbert. “It’s a great example of multi-agency teamwork and recognition of significant local needs. This funding will resolve a tremendous financial burden for the City and help us move our community forward with confidence.”

Taken together, this grant will help to bring improvement, safety, environmental justice, and economic development to a historically disadvantaged community. In the north and south of Wasco, the Authority has 119 miles under construction with 35 active construction sites in the Central Valley. To date, more than 6,000 construction jobs have been created since the start of construction.

Fresno unveils affordable housing for formerly homeless residents with mental health needs.

A new supportive services housing apartment complex for formerly homeless residents with mental health needs was unveiled in Fresno on Wednesday. Created in partnership between Fresno Housing and the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health, the 28-unit Village at Paragon will offer on-site services, such as case management and mental health services.

This is the fourth Fresno Housing development that is run in partnership with DBH. “Stable housing is a critical element of healthcare,” said Susan Holt, who will be taking over as interim director of the department when current director Dawan Utecht leaves Dec. 3. “We know in behavioral health that stable housing is the foundation of recovery,” Holt said. “If any one of us here today were to pause and think about after our day is done, going to a place with no roof. How would we address our healthcare needs?” Thank you for subscribing. The project was funded by the No Place Like Home Program, and was one of the first projects to be completed from the eight initially approved by the state. The state program, established in 2016, provides funding for the acquisition, design construction and rehabilitation of permanent supportive housing for unhoused people.

According to Brandi Johnson, communications director for Fresno Housing Authority, more funds from No Place Like Home will support housing projects slated to open in early 2022. The $3.6 million supportive housing project revitalized a vacant building owned by Fresno Housing into one- and two-bedroom affordable units. Johnson said the cost of each unit will be roughly 30% of a tenant’s adjusted income, but will vary, based on the tenant. Nearly all units have been filled, and final eligibility meetings will be held this week to fill the remaining available units, Johnson said. The complex is made up of 25 one-bedroom units, two two-bedroom units and a unit for an on-site manager. “It takes a battalion of committed people for the long haul to produce projects like this,” said Tyrone Roderick Williams, the recently appointed CEO of Fresno Housing.

Fresno is one of the Best Places to Live in America

Fresno started out as a small stop along the Central Pacific Railroad, but it blossomed into a magnetic metropolis that draws agriculture-minded people from around the world. The metro area is surrounded by Fresno County’s farms, which produce a variety of organic foods, from almonds and pistachios to tomatoes and peaches.

But the area isn’t just a haven for farmers. Fresno attracts residents with its diverse job market, inexpensive housing and array of cultural attractions.

A venture inside this central California region reveals a multitude of unique cultural surprises. The Tower District is famous for its artsy Rogue Festival, classic car show, film festival and lineup of restaurants that plate various cuisines. The minor league Fresno Grizzlies hit homers to the cheers of loyal fans downtown, while beloved events like the Kearney Renaissance Faire take place on Fresno’s west side.

Amazon opens in Visalia

Amazon is open and in full operation says the new general manager at the Visalia fulfillment center, Carlos Avelar. The 1.3 million square foot warehouse, the largest in the city, is on Riggin and Kelsey in the Visalia Industrial Park. “We have already hired nearly 1,000 on our way to 1,200 associates” said Avelar, adding they are “bringing on more employees than we originally anticipated.”

The original announcement said 1,000 jobs. Avelar said he moved his family to Visalia in July from Tracy where he had been manager for 2.5 years. ”The Central Valley has special place in my heart,” said Avelar, adding that he is looking forward to an open house soon, inviting local officials, and has already huddled with other industry managers at the industrial park to introduce himself. “We want to be part of the community,” he said.

The Visalia Amazon is different from any other Amazon in the Valley, being a “fulfillment center” that stores goods, mostly larger in size, to be shipped throughout the Valley. The closest similar facility is in Patterson, said Avelar. Within these fulfillment centers, associates pick, pack and ship larger-sized customer items ranging from boxes of diapers to patio umbrellas. “We picked Visalia to be close to our customers,” he said.

The next three months will be the busiest of the year for the big e-retailer says the general manager and at times they may add more than 1,200 to the workforce. Employees’ starting pay is at least $15.50 per hour and benefits including paid time off and dental care. New hires who show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination earn a $100 bonus on their first day. Avelar said employees appreciate the fact Amazon encourages associates to go to college and will pay to make it happen while they work here. Avelar said he “has heard the rumors” that there will be a second Amazon warehouse built in the industrial park — but for now ”it’s just that — a rumor.”

Bank of America provides $385K to 9 Kern County nonprofits for workforce development

Bank of America today announced it has provided $385,000 in grants to nine Kern County nonprofits focusing on workforce development. The organizations receiving funding are: The Bakersfield College Foundation, Bakersfield Homeless Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, Cal State Bakersfield, Circle of Life, CityServe Network, Community Action Partnership of Kern, Garden Pathways and the Kern Economic Development Foundation.

The bank said the funding supports programs and services that help build pathways to employment, including providing education and resources to rebuild careers that may have been impacted by the pandemic. “The strategic investment into immediate short-term and longer-term needs has been key in helping disadvantaged communities progress as the economy safely reopens,” said Karen Zuber, market executive for Bank of America Bakersfield. “By investing in Kern County’s incredible network of nonprofits, Bank of America provides philanthropic capital to help advance economic and social progress, enabling our community to succeed.”

Several Kern County nonprofits are already using their funding for various projects. BofA said Garden Pathways is using its grant to provide seven at-risk youth with paid internships to develop on-the-job skills training and is supporting 48 high school students in the juvenile justice system by providing enrichment opportunities to help mitigate the effects of their trauma. Bank of America said CAPK is training 20 homeless people through their HireUp program, which provides training in job interview preparedness, computer skills and customer relations.

Aviation company establishes presence in Buttonwillow Airport

Kern County and the company American Aerospace Technologies have signed a letter of intent to create a Regional Operations Center at the Buttonwillow Airport, which would bring new unmanned aircraft to the airport. The letter stipulates the environmental and state requirements that the company must comply with to begin construction. “We’re super excited that they believe that the airport can serve their needs,” said Mark Witsoe, director of Kern County’s airports.

The Buttonwillow Airport has little use to many residents; operationally, flight trainers mainly employ the airport to practice taking off and landing planes, Witsoe said. The structure’s sparse nature means AAT will create a new facility to house its technology, he added. “Our goal is to establish a permanent presence in California with this as our hub,” said David Yoel, the CEO of American Aviation Technology. He hopes to finalize negotiations and start construction in the next six months.

Kern County serves as a perfect base for the company because of its central location, Yoel said. Furthermore, the county has a wide range of applications the aircraft can serve, he added. Yoel said his unmanned aircraft systems cannot be mistaken for drones. While a traditional drone can operate for 20 minutes and must fly below 400 feet, the UAS can fly for 15 hours and at altitudes up to 15,000 feet, Yoel said. Moreover, the UAS is environmentally friendly and can burn less fuel when compared to some smaller drones, he said. “It creates a fundamentally different kind of capability that doesn’t currently exist in civilian applications,” Yoel said.

The company desires to partner with the local companies to uphold its mission statement: maintain health, safety and compliance. The technology can assist oil and gas production, agriculture and fire departments, Yoel said. UAS sends back imagery in real time to stave off any threats, he added. Unmanned aircraft can fly into areas not easily accessible by a person. Therefore, the technology spots potential gas leaks, fire outbreaks and helps growers understand their land, Yoel said.

AAT foresees bringing smaller versions of its larger aircraft to Buttonwillow. This technology weighs 220 pounds and has an 18-foot wingspan. Smaller UAS also includes integrated artificial intelligence that can detect threats to power and pipe lines, often spanning hundreds of miles. Furthermore, the compact equipment can access areas along power lines that are dangerous or inaccessible by an individual, Yoel said. The potential Buttonwillow Regional Operations Center is the second such creation by the company within the nation. Another center is located in New Jersey. AAT worked on a project with NASA at the Buttonwillow airport, which sprouted the idea to create a Kern County center, Yoel said. Witsoe said Kern County airports have never housed unmanned equipment that can be used by civilians. “David Yoel and the company, AAT, seems to be a great new entity to move out here to Kern County,” Witsoe said. “I’m really hopeful we can put something together that lasts a long time.”

Clovis’ rapid growth isn’t slowing down. Here’s why its mayor says people want to live there

Clovis has been one of the fastest growing cities in the state in recent years, and its mayor said this week he doesn’t expect that to slow down. Mayor Jose Flores said Clovis is a destination for many people trying to raise families. He also quoted Harry Armstrong, who died in 2018, who spent nearly half a century on the Clovis City Council going back to 1970. “Harry Armstrong, our icon, said we’re a clean, safe city and we still are,” he said Wednesday during a Zoom call. “And because of Clovis Unified School District, we’re a destination. Families want to live here.”

Clovis had 3,093 more residents this year than a year ago, according to numbers released in May from the state Department of Finance. That’s the fifth largest increase in that state when comparing raw numbers. Clovis was the eighth fastest-growing in that state this year when looking at population expansion by percentage, state numbers show, and that’s after at least two other years in the top 10 in California.

The city’s population has more than tripled since 1980 to more than 121,000, according to the latest state numbers. Some residents resent the expansion in a town they once could consider quaint. “We have others that don’t want us to grow anymore, but people want to live here,” Flores said. “That’s economic growth. What they say for business, if you have the rooftops, then businesses can thrive.” Also driving growth in Clovis, Flores said, is the growing medical complex near Temperance Avenue and Highway 168, which is close to Clovis Community Center, California Health Sciences University and other medical services.

Clovis has sometimes been accused of sprawling. The Clovis City Council recently unanimously in April approved an environmental review of plans to potentially push the city’s sphere of influence further north through a study of 1,050 acres. The council members agreed the city needed to look at the area east of Sunnyside and north of Shepherd avenues. The potential change to the sphere of influence includes the roughly 825 acres of new housing the council approved in October.