Japanese ag firm settling into new Valley residence

With spring also blooms a company that has taken root in the Central Valley in recent years. Manda Fermentation USA Inc., the US brand of Manda Fermentation Co., Ltd., a Japanese organic food manufacturer founded in 1987, has expanded its presence in the San Joaquin Valley since it first made connections with the state of Fresno in 2019.

Through a series of business launches, Manda leaders were made aware of the valley’s agricultural wealth and potential. While things started with research and development – attempts to figure out how mandas products can aid in harvesting and harvesting – the company has since expanded into growing a variety of crops in the Central Valley for markets across the nation and arrive around the world. It participates in community test gardens, brings its products to more local stores, and joins the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

Clay Gilpin, market development manager at Manda USA, said the Covid-19 pandemic had delayed some of the company’s planned outreach activities, but there was a positive trend that emerged during the lockdowns. According to an analysis of the monthly U.S. retail census report from Breck’s, an online Dutch flower and garden store, the gardening industry saw sales surge despite the pandemic. Building materials and garden retail sales increased 8.6% between spring 2019 and spring 2020. “We made gardening a very popular hobby because people stayed at home – that ties in with the trend of people growing their own food and wanting to know where the food is coming from,” said Gilpin.

Manda USA sees new demographics as they target different customers. Manda has its fertilizer product Manda Harvest in local stores, including Alert-O-Lite’s new garden section, a True Value and a central fish market. Central Fish may be shipping mandas fermented food supplements in the future. Currently, Manda USA sells its larger fertilizer products direct to farmers for local use in almonds, blueberries and citrus fruits. It will also be used for olives in the near future.

In areas outside the Central Valley, Manda works with rice, walnuts, canola, corn and cannabis, among other things. Cannabis responded very well to Manda’s fertilizer products and produced larger buds on the plant. Gilpin said the company hopes to get involved as cannabis cultivation increases in our area. Manda has also tested its products at Community Life Garden, an organic community garden in Reedley. Manda has several test fields that demonstrate the effects of Manda Harvest on crops such as potatoes, onions, zucchini and radishes. The fertilizer is free to farmers who wish to use it for their crops, and most of the food grown in the garden is donated to a faith-based food bank.

Gilpin said the company is trying to keep in touch with the Ag community and beyond, which is why joining the Fresno County Farm Bureau has served as a valuable resource. “Your publications are very helpful in giving us an insight into what is going on in the marketplace, especially here in Fresno County,” said Gilpin. “It’s a way to create press releases and talk to the community. After all, we want to advertise in these publications because they reach our target market – farmers who grow organically. “

Plans to build a facility in the Central Valley, possibly for an administration office, have been postponed due to Covid-19, but Gilpin said the company is still open to a number of possible partnerships and locations elsewhere. There are visions of creating a kind of hub at the farmers’ market with other companies to join Manda’s local efforts. Gilpin said Manda USA is trying to provide the resources to grow better food while making more money in the process. “I can imagine that this will also happen in Fresno if we find the right partners and the right location,” said Gilpin. “Given our mission and the nature of our business, we would likely try revitalizing an older building and building it in an area like downtown Fresno or the Tower District to implement those ideas.”

https://thebuildersnews.com/japanese-ag-firm-settling-into-new-valley-residence/

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS AIM TO EXPAND MANUFACTURING WORKFORCE

In recent years higher-education institutions in Fresno have attempted to evolve and expand to meet the demands of the Central Valley manufacturing industry. According to the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance, the industry employs more than 100,000 residents of the Central Valley and accounts for $15 billion of the area’s gross domestic product.

Over the last decade, educational programs have made great strides to partner with the industry to create the kind of employees they need, said Mike Betts, CEO of the Betts Company in Fresno. “The level of collaboration, cooperation and trusting relationships that have been built in this community over the last 5-10 years is off the charts,” Betts said. “It keeps building on itself to where we are doing remarkable things, it’s a community effort.”

One significant advance was the integration of dual credits for high school manufacturing programs at Fresno City College, said Robert Pimentel, FCC vice president of Educational Services and Institutional Effectiveness. Before late 2015, FCC couldn’t offer dual enrollment to high school students because California state law required any course the college offered must be open to the public. High schools didn’t want their campus to be open to any member of the public in order to offer the courses, Pimentel said.

In October 2015 Assembly Bill 288 changed those rules, and instead of requiring students to spend a semester testing out of courses they took in high school, FCC could offer their courses with college credit for the high school students exclusively. This change allows students to work towards an associates degree in high school and offers students a chance to take college courses for free, Pimentel said. The change also allowed companies to partner more closely in ensuring workers with the skills they need are able to access the right education from a young age, Betts said. “We try to offer a pathway between high school and university, or into the industry,” Pimentel said. “We are using that pathway to close equity gaps for students.”

Educational programs aim to expand manufacturing workforce – The Business Journal

THREE VALLEY MANUFACTURERS EARN ENERGY STAR CERTIFICATION

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced 95 manufacturing plants nationwide earned Energy Star certification in 2020 for being the most energy-efficient in their industries, and three of those companies are from the Central Valley.

Vitro Architectural Glass in Fresno, J.R. Simplot Company in Helm in Fresno County, and Ardagh Glass in Madera have been awarded the distinction.

By managing their energy usage strategically during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Energy Star Certified plants saved nearly $400 million on energy bills, which is equal to the payroll value of over 8,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs.

“EPA commends our partners here in California for their leadership in advancing energy and cost saving improvements,” said EPA’s Air & Radiation Division Director for the Pacific Southwest region Elizabeth Adams. “Their commitment to energy efficiency not only protects the environment, it is a smart business decision that supports the bottom line.”

Beginning in 2006, the Energy Star Industrial program has annually certified manufacturing plants in the U.S. for operating within the top 25% of energy performance in their industry nationwide.

Since the first manufacturers received their certification from the program 15 years ago, the plants have realized more than $6 billion in savings on energy bills.

Other California companies that received certification for their performance in 2020 include Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. in Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, and San Diego, and Flowers Baking Co. in Modesto.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/three-valley-manufacturers-earn-energy-star-certification/?mc_cid=467bb44e45&mc_eid=54995b94ba

Riverbank made bold plans for old Army ammo plant

Twelve years after the Army stopped making ammunition in Riverbank, the vast plant is only partway toward its potential for new jobs. But that could improve soon, local officials said during a tour Thursday for Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock. They envision about 2,000 people working for various tenants, up from about 650 now, with an emphasis on green industries.

Harder heard about how long it is taking for state and federal agencies to ensure that contaminated portions of the site are cleaned up. It stretches across 173 acres at Claus and Claribel roads, with about 150 buildings and plenty of open land. Harder earlier helped a company navigate federal rules regarding foreign investment in a venture that would make vehicle fuel from nut shells and orchard wood waste. Aemetis plans to employ about 50 people on the Riverbank site and said contract truckers would add perhaps 1,000 more jobs. “There’s a lot of unique things about this site,” Harder said. “It’s already prebuilt for manufacturing opportunities.”

https://www.modbee.com/news/business/article249252650.html

Energy Recovery Commissions New Production Facility

Energy Recovery, Inc. (NASDAQ: ERII) today announced that manufacturing of PX® Pressure Exchangers® (“PX“) has begun in its newest production facility in Tracy, California. The opening of the 54,000 square foot facility marks the completion of a comprehensive manufacturing capacity increase plan that, combined with process optimization and additional equipment procurement, has more than doubled the Company’s output of PX ceramic components in just under two years. “We expect revenue growth of up to 25% this year in our Water segment, and the opening of our Tracy facility gives us confidence in fulfilling our strong backlog of orders while creating critical redundancy of our manufactured components,” said Robert Mao, Energy Recovery Chairman of the Board and President and Chief Executive Officer. “We were able to progress quickly, ensuring this facility was capable of operations while taking the necessary safety precautions against the spread of COVID-19.”

The city of Tracy is located 47 miles east of Energy Recovery’s headquarters in San Leandro, California. The close proximity of the two facilities allows for better integration and collaboration within the manufacturing process, helping to ensure consistent product quality across all production locations. Tracy was selected as a location due to its diverse pool of skilled labor, location in a low-risk seismic zone, independent power grid and access to key transportation access points. “Thanks to our strong relationships and market insight, we were able to accurately forecast the rapid growth of desalination we are seeing today and implement strategic capacity expansions. The Tracy facility has flexibility for further capacity additions in the future as required and positions us continuing reliably serving our customers’ growing businesses,” said Emily Smith, Energy Recovery’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Operations.

http://www.energyrecovery.com/media/energy-recovery-commissions-new-production-facility/

Record-breaking demand for warehouse and DC development

Unlike many other segments of the economy, warehouse and distribution center (DC) development is not only withstanding the widespread economic impact of COVID-19, it’s thriving. In fact: It’s red hot. Companies can’t find space fast enough and developers can’t build DCs quickly enough to meet demand. “The market is thriving, and with it, record high transaction volume (new leases, user sales and renewals), record high rents, a vacancy of 4.7%, and 42 consecutive quarters of positive absorption,” reports James Breeze, senior director, global head of Industrial & Logistics Research for CBRE.

Robust demand for industrial product has kept developers busy. “At the end of the third quarter of 2020, more than 312 million square feet was under construction [nationwide] and 37% of this was already preleased—the highest rate of pre-leasing in over a year,” Breeze exclaims. Other noteworthy trends include climbing rents, annual absorption inching close to the 200-million-square-foot benchmark, and record-high deliveries, reports Mehta Randhawa, director of U.S. Industrial Research, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (JLL).

As stay-at-home orders lifted, construction activity resumed, and deliveries spiked. Consequently, JLL data indicates that delivery of industrial space hit a record high in the third quarter of 2020, with completions totaling 97.4 million square feet. When all totaled, JLL expects that figure to hit 107.0 million square feet for 2020. “We have seen a speed associated with innovation that was never known to us before COVID,” remarks Matt Powers, executive vice president, JLL. “Supply chain models are being transformed in days instead of months or years.”

Driving this robust development surge is widespread adoption of e-commerce, accentuated by COVID-19. “Most consumers are not only buying more product online; they are expecting it to be delivered in a timely manner,” says Breeze. Consequently, developers are seeing upwards of five years of e-commerce growth in one year—a trend, they say, that’s not going away, Further, companies are looking to carry higher inventory levels given that many incurred lost revenues by not having the inventory to meet demand. “Beyond carrying higher inventory levels to favor resiliency over efficiency in their supply chains, companies are also considering more diversified manufacturing locations,” says Carter Andrus, president of Central Region at real estate investment trust company Prologis. “In some cases, companies have become too efficient without having some buffer or just-in-case stock for events that happen.”

Andrus observes that these two trends have the potential to generate more than 500 million square feet of additional warehouse and DC space in the next two to three years. “This is overwhelming,” he says. “In terms of facility size, we see good momentum in all size categories, although activity has been best above 100,000 square feet with pronounced strength in the big box spectrum, with that being greater than 250,000 square feet.” Earlier in 2020, Prologis saw some softness in spaces below 100,000 square feet, but now market demand for this space is also improving. All of these factors continue to shift supply chain strategies to increase distribution centers throughout the country whether it’s a company shipping directly to the consumer, or the supplier to that company.

According to the seasonally adjusted date from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. consumers spent an estimate $209.5 billion online in the third quarter of 2020. That’s a whopping increase of 36.7% from the same period in 2019 when e-commerce sales made up 11.2% of total sales. Two of the biggest players in the retail world are Amazon and Walmart. Last year, Amazon was said to have over 100 fulfilment centers alone. The company typically builds fulfillment centers to feed regional sort centers as well as DCs, also known as delivery stations. Its fulfillment centers are typically 1 million-square-feet or more.

Walmart, known for running one of the largest distribution operations in the world, has over 190 DCs with more than 143 million square feet, according to global supply chain, logistics and distribution consulting firm MWPVL International Inc. “Market drivers include population growth and competition shortening the last-mile with same- or next-day delivery,” states Powers.

Robert Van Geons, president and CEO Of Fayetteville Economic Development Corp., who promotes activity in his region of North Carolina, observes how onshoring of manufacturing, increased e-commerce and drastically altered consumer demand cycles have significantly increased the demand for warehouses and DC space. “While new product is under construction, it’s nearly impossible to find a large [250,000 square feet+] quality building available between Washington, D.C. and Savanah,” Van Geons reports. “If it has good ceiling height and is close to a major interstate, it is off the market.”

https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/record_breaking_demand_for_warehouse_and_dc_development/warehouse

Transportation Research Center Inc. to Assume Management of California AutoTech Testing and Development Center

North America’s most comprehensive automotive testing organization, the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC Inc.) in East Liberty, Ohio, has assumed day-to-day management of Merced County’s California AutoTech Testing and Development Center (CATDC) at Castle to help expand testing services for automotive manufacturers, suppliers and transportation innovators in mid-California’s technology hub. TRC Inc. signed a ten-year agreement with the Merced County Board of Supervisors to manage the 225-acre CATDC testing complex and bring TRC Inc.’s nearly 50 years of technical expertise as an engineering services firm to help create a one-stop-shop approach to affirming the safety, quality and competitiveness of new technologies. TRC Inc. was selected to manage and expand the county-owned research center after an extensive RFP process conducted by KPMG International for the Merced County Board of Supervisors. Since its inception several years ago, CATDC has attracted innovators in and around Silicon
Valley and the wider San Francisco Bay region. CATDC currently operates high-speed and urban-grid automotive test zones on a substantial system of existing infrastructure. A range of US-based, Asian and European OEMs and technology firms are presently conducting testing and development on the site.

“In addition to Castle’s airport operations, the auto testing is a key part of our vision for the future of Castle as a dynamic, jobs-creating engine for our county and the region” said Daron McDaniel, Chairman of the Merced County Board of Supervisors. “Under the leadership of respected experts in automotive technology and research, we will make Merced County a destination for the high-tech firms and innovators who are reshaping transportation worldwide.” “As one of the world’s most respected leaders in advanced transportation engineering and research, TRC Inc. has the know-how and experience to take this facility to the next level, attracting more innovators and ultimately bringing jobs and economic development to our communities,” said Mark J. Hendrickson, Merced County’s Director of Community and Economic Development.

“We are excited to bring our engineering and technical experience to Merced County to help this growing facility reach its full potential,” said Brett Roubinek, TRC Inc.’s president and CEO. “With this strategic location adjacent to Silicon Valley and the Bay Region, CATDC and TRC Inc. give the West Coast’s automotive innovators, start ups as well as OEMs, convenient access to the testing facilities and expertise needed to validate their advanced mobility technologies.” When TRC Inc. assumes management of the Merced County facility, it will work to complete development of advanced testing facilities, especially new capabilities geared toward research on autonomous and connected vehicles. In Ohio, TRC Inc. operates a 540-acre SMARTCenter which provides transportation innovators with a roadway complex especially designed for testing automated and connected vehicle systems in a safe, secure and repeatable real-world environment.

Since 1974, TRC Inc. has been an acknowledged leader in transportation research and innovation, providing a full range of engineering and automotive research expertise to the world’s leading OEMs, suppliers and systems innovators. TRC Inc.’s 4,500-acre campus in East Liberty, Ohio has attracted more than 800 clients by offering North America’s most advanced automotive testing facilities and proving grounds along with a comprehensive array of research and evaluation services. As a fully independent, 501c3 nonprofit organization, TRC Inc. provides these services with the strictest respect for each client’s security, confidentially and proprietary interests. TRC Inc. engineers, test drivers and other technical specialists are skilled at testing for active and passive safety, fuel economy, durability, emissions, noise, crash simulation and crashworthiness as well as autonomous and connected mobility testing of passenger cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, aircraft, off-road, tracked, alternative-fueled vehicles and vehicle systems.

https://web2.co.merced.ca.us/pdfs/news/2021/2021-02-02_TRC_Inc.pdf

Faraday Future to List on NASDAQ Through Merger With Property Solutions Acquisition Corp. With Estimated $1 Billion in Proceeds

  • Merger to provide an estimated $1.0 billion of gross proceeds to Faraday Future (“FF”), including $230 million in cash held by PSAC in trust assuming no redemptions and an upsized $775 million fully committed common stock PIPE at $10.00 per share.
  • Transaction is expected to fully fund the production of class defining ultimate-performance luxury electric FF 91 within 12 months of transaction close. This transaction also supports the future development of the company’s unique I.A.I system (Internet, Autonomous Driving, Intelligence).
  • FF has adopted a global hybrid manufacturing strategy consisting of its manufacturing facility in Hanford, California and a contract manufacturing partner in South Korea. FF 91 brings to market class-leading luxury and ultimate performance supported by nearly 900 filed or issued patents globally for its Variable Platform Architecture, Propulsion system, and Advanced Internet, Autonomous Driving and Intelligence (I.A.I.) technology.
  • Estimated post transaction equity value of approximately $3.4 billion; combined company to be named Faraday Future Inc. and will trade under the new ticker symbol “FFIE” with transaction close expected in Q2 2021.
  • PIPE anchor investors include leading institutional shareholders from the U.S. and Europe, a Top 3 Chinese OEM, and a Tier-1 city in China.
  • Noted SPAC Sponsor, Riverside Management Group (RMG), is serving as financial partner and advisor to PSAC.
  • All existing Faraday Future shareholders, including management, are rolling all of their equity.
  • https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210128005488/en/Faraday-Future-to-List-on-NASDAQ-Through-Merger-With-Property-Solutions-Acquisition-Corp.-With-Estimated-1-Billion-in-Proceeds

The COVID-19 pandemic could be a ‘tipping point’ for the Central Valley’s growth, innovation

Despite the challenges the Central Valley has faced in the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic could prove a “tipping point” for the region in terms of innovation and growth, according to speakers at the annual State of the Valley event.

“In this pandemic crisis, I see a real opportunity for the North (San Joaquin) Valley,” said Mark Keppler, the executive director of the Maddy Institute, a local public policy organization. “If there’s some strategic thinking that’s going on … and then those plans are put into action, I think the next 25-50 years could be the time that the North Valley really emerges as a region.”

The event, co-presented by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and Opportunity Stanislaus, was held Monday as a live webinar and featured presentations from Keppler and Dave White, the CEO of Opportunity Stanislaus. Trish Christensen, the chamber of commerce’s president and CEO, moderated the event.

Both Keppler and White expressed optimism at Stanislaus County’s ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent unemployment skyrocketing in March and April and left many without jobs. Coupled with large-scale shutdowns of many parts of the economy — from shelter-in-place orders in the spring to current restrictions on indoor dining and other activities — brought whole sectors of the economy to a standstill.

But six months in, the Central Valley is beginning to see signs of recovery, both Keppler and White said. Recent unemployment data for Stanislaus County clocked in at 10.9%, down from 13.6% in July and a high of 17% in April. Jobless numbers in the county are currently lower than state-level unemployment, which was 11.4% in August, down from 13.5% in July.

“We’ve done better than most of California,” White said. “The main reason for that is we don’t rely on tourism and transportation as much as other places in California.”

The Central Valley’s key industries are manufacturing, agriculture and other essential industries, which have remained open throughout the pandemic. Additionally, seasonal labor — from farm work to Census enumerators — has caused a spike in employment across the Valley, resulting in lower unemployment figures.

SMALL BUSINESSES STRUGGLE DESPITE SUPPORT

White spoke to the Valley’s relative success in terms of coronavirus recovery, aided in part by local business support programs, including grants and loans like the Paycheck Protection Program, which gave small business access to billions in federal money.

Now, with the PPP program complete, and businesses adapting to the “new normal” under COVID-19, White stressed the importance of following the statewide safety guidelines and tiered system that will eventually allow for more reopening across the county.

Still, White said, people should not expect a V-shaped recovery from the pandemic, due to a decreased participation in the economy and shutdowns still in place across many industries. People are still wary of returning to work, as well as shopping and dining, he said.

“They’re scared, and they’re not confident,” White said. “In order to establish that confidence, we have to see a decrease in the impact of the virus on our community…. The longer this goes, the more we’re going to see business failure.”

CHANGING SKILLS FOR A NEW ECONOMY

The pandemic has changed the ways many Americans live their daily lives, from telecommuting to relying on online retailers for much of their shopping. Keppler said he is predicting ensuing changes in the Valley as well, including an increased emphasis on logistics, coming from large retailers and delivery service companies like Amazon, UPS and FedEx.

White said he also expects “on-shoring” of manufacturing, moving plants from overseas back to the United States, and creating more job opportunities in those sectors, as well as expansion plans from more traditional corporations.

Amazon recently announced 2,600 new jobs in the Central Valley, as part of a nationwide hiring spree of 100,000 workers, ranging from warehouse staff to finance and HR positions in the individual buildings.

Manufacturing jobs coming to the Central Valley will require workers with skills like PLC coding, automation and robotics, White said, raising the requirements for applicants. He said he expects similar changes in fields like agricultural technology and logistics.

“We need to invest in coding and all these upper skills that will be required in this new economy,” he said.

Additionally, White said, Stanislaus County needs to attract these skilled workers from other areas in the state and around the country, offering a high quality of life at a comparatively lower price point.

ATTRACTING POTENTIAL BUYERS TO THE CENTRAL VALLEY

As teleworking has become a more permanent option for many companies, Keppler said it’s estimated that Americans have saved around $91 billion by working at home this year, and employers are eager to continue with the practice and eventually reduce their footprints in high-priced areas like Silicon Valley.

Keppler said not only will this reduce the commutes of many workers who regularly drive up to three hours from the Valley to the Bay Area, but also make areas like Stanislaus County more attractive to potential renters and buyers.

In a post-office landscape, Keppler stressed, the Valley needs to make itself competitive not only on a regional level, but “nationwide.” This means focusing on housing, attention to detail in urban planning and ensuring that cities like Modesto provide ample amenities — like parks, performing arts and a walkable downtown — to attract new residents.

White added that as the pandemic more heavily affects urban areas, like New York City, Los Angeles or San Francisco, a number of people may be looking to move out of larger cities and into smaller ones they deem safer, like Modesto or other places in Stanislaus County.

“There’s going to be demand for housing,” he said, “and we need to be ready for that.”

White said he foresees a sort of hybrid model, with increased work-from-home and the possibility of smaller, communal offices popping up in more affordable cities where the employees of large tech companies will be able to work a few days a week or month.

He said it’s crucial for the public and private sectors to work together and create solutions for these needs across the Valley, and make the region as lucrative as possible for both companies and workers.

“The potential here is unbelievable,” Keppler said. “There has to be civic pride, and a sense of, ‘You know what, we can do this!’”

https://www.modbee.com/article245901805.html

Setton Academy for Industrial Robotics and Technology coming in 2021

Setton Farms has announced it will build a school in Terra Bella that will focus on industrial robotics and technology. The new school will be called Setton Academy.

In 2019, Setton Pistachio established a 501c(3) non-profit to develop and operate an industrial technology school. After a lengthy permitting process, the school was approved, and construction on Setton Academy began in summer 2020. DAYCO Construction and Industrial Design and Construction (IDC) are assisting with construction and materials. The school will be equipped with robotic and computer vision cells, as well as software development workstations for a hands-on laboratory experience.

“The school is a 501c(3),” said Setton Farms General Manager Lee Cohen “It’s an educational foundation that the family has set up to provide modern educational instruction in advanced industrial electronics and industrial robotics. We think that it’s a very effective way to change the trajectory of kids’ lives locally in Terra Bella.

“We are targeting students that are 18 to 23 year old high school graduates who we hope to basically give the requisite skills to change the trajectory of their lives to go into a pathway of industrial automation, which in today’s job market is very, very lucrative, high paying and very much in demand. The goal is really to go after the local kids who really wouldn’t have an opportunity like this.”

Once up and running, the Setton Academy will provide short certificate style courses that allow students to advance their education in industrial electronics, robotics and computer vision. The hands-on, module-based curriculum will be designed to focus on industrial automation control, robotics, computer vision and CAD design, and will allow students to learn at their own pace. The curriculum will cover subjects that match skills required in the broad industries throughout the Valley. All of the modules will be taught by industry professionals in a variety of methods ranging from live, hands-on instruction, to step-by-step videos and other interactive media modes.

“The school is going to be very modest and small,” said Cohen. “We’re going to try to take less than 30 students a year. If we can change the lives of 10, 20, 30 kids a year, over 10 years we’ll really have made a big difference in Terra Bella, and I think that’s the goal. The non-profit is going to be focused on providing access to these kids, providing very simplified and well designed curriculum, so that we can really utilize the state of the art of modern industrial robotics and technology, which really now is very accessible to these kids, because everyone of these kids probably has a smartphone and knows how software works, and I think the modern state of industrial automation is more accessible to them these days because of that.”

The goal of Setton Academy is its graduates acquire the necessary industrial technology and robotics skills to bring immediate value and productivity for employers who utilize production automation. If the school can achieve its goals, it could potentially change the pathway of its graduates’ lives from a minimum-wage, low-skill trajectory into a highly paid, high-skill, high-growth job trajectory.

“I think across the Valley, certainly in Agriculture, there’s of course ways of automation due to the difficult operating environment and higher costs across every aspect,” said Cohen. “I think nationally we will resort to automation to offset those costs in the long run, and I believe that, probably at this point in time, there aren’t enough educational institutions that are focusing on the people who will be operating, managing, interacting and designing this wave of automation that will be progressing through the Valley. I think it’s very within reach of all of these kids, absolutely. We just have to put together the right curriculum, the right delivery, the right program. So what we’re doing is bringing the education locally in town. They can walk to us. That’s the objective; this local education delivering really very market focused principles of education.”

Future goals for Setton Academy include developing a network of hiring companies that will source automation operators directly from the school.

“We are encouraging the community to get involved,” said Cohen. “We are looking for community members who can sit on a committee or some kind of advisory council. We want the community completely involved in this.”

The school is aiming to be completed by the summer of 2021.

https://www.recorderonline.com/news/setton-academy-coming-in-2021/article_bf4b6b5a-ff48-11ea-8a87-4f3360aea47c.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share