New housing development in Visalia set to begin construction

VISALIA – Another development is in the works in Visalia looking to increase available housing in Tulare County. San Joaquin Valley Homes and Presidio Residential Capital recently closed on land in northeast Visalia off of East Goshen Avenue and west of Lovers Lane. The new community will be called Maplewood and consist of 138 single-family, detached homes. Construction will begin in late 2022 with model homes expected by spring 2023. Maplewood homes will range in size from 1,298 to 2,076 square feet on minimum 5,000 square feet lots. One- and two-story modern cottage, craftsman and farmhouse style exteriors will be situated throughout traffic-friendly cul-de-sacs that include spacious corners and some oversized lots. Homes will have three to four bedrooms and two to 2.5 bathrooms with attached two-car garages.

The community will be located in the Visalia Unified School District where students will attend Mineral King Elementary School, Valley Oak Intermediate School and Golden West High School. “We love to build homes in Visalia,” said Lana Fahoum, sales manager at SJV Homes. “Many of our staff live and work here, so we’re excited to share this wonderful community with new homeowners from families just starting out to retiring couples who wish to downsize.” According to the National Association of Home Builders’ formula to determine the local impact of single-family housing in typical metro areas, adding 138 single-family homes will generate $39 million in local income, $5 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments and 543 local jobs.

Amazon Picks Central Valley Town for First Package Deliveries by Drone

Retailing giant Amazon announced Monday it picked a small town in the Central Valley near Stockton to be the first location for public drone deliveries. Deliveries to Lockeford, a town of 3,500 on State Route 88, would begin later this year. This would be the first time Amazon makes drone deliveries to the American public, and it follows several pilot projects by companies such as Walmart, United Parcel Service and FedEx. The online retailer said it was working with Federal Aviation Administration and local officials to secure permits. The drones will have the capability to fly beyond-line-of-sight and will be programmed to drop parcels in the backyards of customers. “Lockeford residents will play an important role in defining the future,” Amazon said. “Their feedback about Prime Air, with drones delivering packages in their backyards, will help us create a service that will safely scale to meet the needs of customers everywhere.” The company predicted that drone delivery “could one day become just as common as seeing an Amazon delivery van pull up outside your house.” Amazon made its first customer delivery by drone in the United Kingdom in 2016 and had touted its plans for drone delivery for years before that.


Todd Pigott started his first business with not much more than $17 to his name. He did janitorial work, going door-to-door while he studying construction management at Fresno State. After rolling a utility vehicle, he reevaluated his career and realized that line of work wasn’t for him. He sold his janitorial company and got into a different kind of real estate service. Now Pigott operates the only certified REIT — Real Estate Investment Trust — in the Central Valley, and his business is pushing for a $100 million fundraise with a goal to expand services and footprint from 10 states to 15. Pigott took up house flipping after selling his janitorial business in 2006. Rehabilitating rundown homes and turning them around soon established a rapport with his bank. It was also in 2006 that he began lending. A line of credit from his bank and fundraising from family and friends earned him enough money to start a private capital firm named after his three children —Zachary, Nicholas and Cameron. He started by himself but quickly expanded to five employees through the Great Recession, eventually ending up with 45 today.

It’s a niche in real estate finance. House flippers rely on different kinds of home loans than regular homebuyers. Loans are given on terms typically less than a year with higher interest rates. And because of the state of the homes, they aren’t backed by government entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Pigott started lending not only with distressed asset loans, but also loans on multi-family properties and refinance deals. He quickly learned the lessons of working with C-Class and D-Class multifamily properties. The promises of profit couldn’t outweigh the attention and maintenance required on those properties. He decided to narrow the focus and now ZINC Financial, listed with the SEC as ZINC Income Fund, primarily writes bridge loans for house flippers as well as auto loans for people who don’t qualify for normal financing. Pigott says house flipping is a win-win-win. Neighbors like distressed homes being cleaned up, investors get a percentage, flippers get paid and families get to move in to renovated homes. The Central Valley market presents investors low buy-ins compared to other parts of California — in addition to high returns.

The Los Angeles Times named Fresno the hottest real estate market in 2021. Real estate investment firm Lima One Capital released a market study pointing out the strength of Fresno investments. Out of 233 flips, investors averaged a $94,000 return on a $235,000 median purchase price. Pigott said his firm averages between five and 20 a month in the Central Valley. Outlying communities such as Pixley, Sanger, Madera and Chowchilla have significant populations of blue-collar workers looking for affordable housing. “ZINC recently rehabbed homes in Reedley, Sanger and other small surrounding communities and all had multiple offers and went above asking price,” Pigott said.  But flipping isn’t an easy business. Year-over-year appreciation on home values averaging 20% and time on market less than a week might give investors strong exit strategies, but that means competing against a glut of other offers.

Supply chains have also made timelines for flippers more difficult. Having to wait months to get supplies in when the average loan term is 7.5 months leaves very little room for contractors to finish work on time. And local governments are still only partly back at the office. Pigott warns investors to stay away from anything needing structural work or permits. “If you have to go pull a permit and go down there,” Pigott said, “what would normally take two-to-four weeks is taking two-to-four months now.”  Still, Pigott says he has consistently netted investors 8%-10% returns. When he first started the capital firm, he would seek out investors who would write checks of upwards of $800,000, he said. But Pigott said establishing the REIT was more efficient and they are able to get funds quicker. The process took years and $200,000. He contracted with lawyers who specialize in enforcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission. “It’s very expensive to form and very expensive to monitor, but — but, it creates an efficiency for us because we can just fund what we need to fund and it creates some definite benefits for our investors,” Pigott said.

Soon ZINC needed to find its own home. The bank offered to Pigott its own distressed property — the former KKDJ and United Security Bank building at 1525 E. Shaw Ave. The building had been vacated after the former tenant, Alta Pacific Inc., left. Pigott said they redid the roof and the HVAC system. Now, the 11,000 square foot building houses all the different divisions for ZINC Financial. Each room is decorated with a different antique bicycle, the gears matching the industrial theme. Biking is one of Pigott’s passions. Pigott spends his days looking at market reports, studying how many requests for forbearance are made or how many requests for default are made.  Rather than affordability, what Pigott looks for is liquidity from lenders. In 2005, when affordability was 38%, Pigott said everybody was buying a home. Two years later when affordability was 78%, nobody wanted a home.  “I know for a fact that the value of my collateral is directly related not to affordability but to liquidity on the secondary market,” Pigott said. “Can that person get a loan at a reasonable price?” In his business, he sees a lot of people from all demographics and incomes — major investors to those struggling to get car loans and he says he’s learned a lot of lessons. And through it all, he prefers real estate.  “I can’t fix people with poor credit,” Pigott said. “What I can fix are troubled houses.”

Origo Investments and Amond World LLC. To Break Ground on A Premium Refrigerated Cold Storage Facility

MADERA, CA | June 15, 2022 | Amond World LLC, in conjunction with Origo Investments has
announced their newest endeavor. Amond World, cold storage facilities will break ground on
June 28th at 10:30 am North of 2842 North Golden State Blvd Madera, CA. The groundbreaking
ceremony will feature company representatives, local government, and business leaders.
“Amond World is excited to build and soon deliver a critical component to farmers and
processors,” said Robert Sullivan, Managing Partner of Amond World LLC.

Span Construction & Engineering, Inc., the general contractor for the project, expects the first
building to be completed in spring of 2023. Once that facility building is operational Amond
World LLC and Origo Investments will begin construction of the Phase Two building.
The ground-up development project, is a 250,000 square feet state modern state-of-the-art
refrigerated cold storage facility in the Madera Airport Industrial Park, filling a critical need for
farmers and processors. The storage facility will increase profitability and extend shelf life by up
two years. Once completed, each facility will hold approximately 50 million pounds of bins
and/or finished product.

Robert Sullivan, and Steve Sagouspe, are the Managing Partners of Amond World LLC.. With a
track record of success, Robert and Steve add an immense wealth of knowledge to the project,
overseeing each aspect of their investments, that will allow them to push the project’s success

Jackson Ranch


Jackson Ranch is approximately 415 acres of fully entitled, master planned development along the Interstate 5 and the existing Utica Avenue off-ramp, with a unique integration of industrial, commercial and agricultural centers aligned to create economic growth
As the half-way point between San Francisco and Los Angeles and adjacent to Interstate 5, Jackson Ranch offers visibility to a high volume of existing motorists who pass by annually. Upon completion, the center will be the only stop to offer food, lodging, a truck stop, and service stations within a 39 mile stretch of the freeway.

The site is located within a Federal Opportunity Zone, which was established within economically challenged areas in 2018 to encourage job growth and investment. This designation offers tax incentives over a 10 year period to businesses that locate and expand within this designation area.

Saint-Gobain Invests $32 Million to Upgrade Equipment in Chowchilla, California, Increasing Insulation Production Capacity by 13% and Reducing Carbon Footprint

Saint-Gobain, through its building products subsidiary CertainTeed LLC, is investing $32 million to upgrade equipment at its insulation plant in Chowchilla, California, allowing the facility to expand its production capacity by 13%. The new oven, new furnace and additional new equipment installed at the plant will consume less natural gas and electricity, ultimately reducing the facility’s carbon footprint by more than 4,000 metric tons per year.

The investments in Chowchilla were first announced in November as part of a broader $400 Million expansion of Saint-Gobain’s manufacturing facilities in the United States, and come only months after the company announced its global Grow and Impact strategy, which includes increasing its presence in key high-growth markets while reducing its environmental footprint. The furnace in Chowchilla is used to melt recycled glass and sand into molten glass which is eventually fiberized. The oven is used to cure binding material which holds the fibers together, allowing the insulation to assume its final shape and dimensions. The new equipment is more energy efficient than the plant’s current equipment.

As part of the expansion project, the plant has also installed a new oxygen generation unit which consumes 30% less electricity than the older equipment it replaces. Oxygen is mixed with natural gas and used at the plant to heat the furnace. “Our strategic investments in Chowchilla represent a major commitment to our customers on the West Coast for decades to come, ensuring that we will meet the need for our industry-leading fiberglass insulation at a time of unprecedented demand growth, all while reducing the plant’s carbon footprint,” said Andrew Goldberg, Vice President and General Manager of CertainTeed Insulation Product Group. “We will continue to strive to maximize our positive impact, for our customers and the communities where we do business, while minimizing our environmental footprint. We are grateful for the support we’ve received from our customers and the community, along with the hard work of the incredible team at our plant, as we begin this new chapter of our history in Chowchilla.”

A team of approximately 20 Saint-Gobain engineers and project management professionals worked for several years to plan the equipment upgrades in Chowchilla. An additional team of approximately 300 contract workers were brought on site to install the new equipment starting in January. The new equipment is expected to come online in February and March. This is the largest capital investment CertainTeed has made in Chowchilla since the plant began operations in 1978. Today the facility is home to 180 employees and is looking to hire additional colleagues in the coming weeks. Open positions include roles in controls, engineering, health and safety management, instrumentation, packaging and production management. A current list of job openings can be found on the company’s careers website. Dating back to 2009, the CertainTeed plant in Chowchilla has operated safely for more than four million worker hours without a lost time incident.

About CertainTeed
Through the responsible development of innovative and sustainable building products, CertainTeed, headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, has helped shape the building products industry for more than 115 years. Founded in 1904 as General Roofing Manufacturing Company, the firm’s slogan “Quality Made Certain, Satisfaction Guaranteed,” inspired the name CertainTeed. Today, CertainTeed is a leading North American brand of exterior and interior building products, including roofing, siding, solar, fence, railing, trim, insulation, drywall and ceilings.

About Saint-Gobain
Worldwide leader in light and sustainable construction, Saint-Gobain designs, manufactures and distributes materials and services for the construction and industrial markets. Its integrated solutions for the renovation of public and private buildings, light construction and the decarbonization of construction and industry are developed through a continuous innovation process and provide sustainability and performance. The group’s commitment is guided by its purpose, “MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER HOME.”

Madera County Receives $450K Grant From Caltrans

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

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

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


MGA is excited to announce our West Coast geographic expansion with a new test facility in Hughson, California! Localization has been a core principle of MGA starting approximately 30 years ago, with the purchase of our Wisconsin proving grounds and test facility in the Detroit region. These facilities focused on serving the Midwest based automotive industry. As time went on, the localized demand from our customers continued to grow as they pushed into the Southeastern US and Mexican markets. As a result, MGA established facilities in Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, and Alabama. The emergence and success of many automotive startups and established aerospace customers in the Western United States, has created a demand for local testing services, and MGA is responding. 

As the ninth location in North America, our California facility will serve as a strong addition to existing automotive, space, and aircraft testing capabilities we offer. The location is approximately 100 miles east of San Jose and San Francisco. Sitting on 9 acres with expansion capabilities, this 80,000 sq ft facility will bring unparalleled testing capability under one roof to the West Coast. Capabilities will be added in a phased approach starting in the Summer of 2022. We are bringing these capabilities online based on customer feedback and needs for that region – currently that plan calls for 3 phases: 

Phase 1 – Summer 2022  

FMVSS 200-Level Component Safety, Environmental and Lifecycle, Durability, and Pyroshock 

Phase 2 – Early 2023 

Accelerator Sled testing, Component Safety Expansion, Vibration, and Durability Expansion 

Phase 3 – 2023 

Indoor Full Vehicle Crash Track, Battery and Electronics lab, Materials

Testing Since late 2021, we have hired local CA associates who have been training at multiple MGA facilities to learn our processes and enhance their skillsets. In addition to local hires, several key MGA associates are moving out to California to work full time and bring the same quality of service provided at all our facilities. MGA will continue to grow and expand this facility as time goes on to best serve our growing customer base. With all our planning, state of the art equipment, and experienced staff, we look forward to supporting our west coast customers achieve their goals.

Pacific Steel awards main contract for $350M California rebar mill

Pacific Steel Group anticipates an early-2025 start for a 380,000 ton/year rebar mill in Mojave, Calif., integrating the facility with its fabrication and installation businesses. The company has awarded a contract to Pennsylvania-based Danieli Corp. to build an advanced MIDA Hybrid micro mill, potentially powered by adjacent solar arrays. With four North American rebar mill installations since 2009, the MIDA milling technology yields production efficiencies through “endless” casting and rolling and lowers energy consumption by eliminating the need for the second heating phase typical of steel bar production.

The Mojave facility will help lower carbon dioxide emissions through world class productivity metrics, reduced transportation requirements for Southwest region concrete contractors, and the use of green energy, Pacific Steel affirms. “We are excited about partnering with Danieli to build one of the cleanest, safest and most efficient steel mills in the world,” adds Chairman Eric Benson.

Kern Economic Development hopes to increase retention

The Kern Economic Development Foundation is launching a new talent retention initiative, which will link the region’s businesses with students throughout Kern County. This year’s students will be recent graduates of the regional occupational center with disciplines ranging from culinary arts to robotics. Still KEDF is calling on local business owners in Kern to partner with them. “The project is only as good as the job listing we have. So, we have the flow of students right now but we need to work to tell the employers about this talent pool that’s available to step in the job since day one,” said Richard Chapman, Executive Director of the Kern Economic Development Foundation.

The Kern Economic Development Foundation’s goal is to link the region’s businesses with KHSD students through the Kern Intern Connection Executive Director of the Kern Economic Development Foundation. Richard Chapman is hoping not only increase retention of workers in Kern but to gain employers from a variety of disciplines. “The key for us is these internships. The students are going to have to be involved in what that company does, we want to make sure this experience is based on, if you’re a manufacturer, that you’re working in the facility, that you are not just filing papers.”

Chapman said these students already have hours of training but what they need is the opportunity to gain soft skills like showing up to work on time and working with a team. “We know that workforce development, the quality and availability, is by far the number one challenge. I mean, think about it, in our county we have a labor participation of 60% so that means 40% of people that are able to work for various reasons are not looking for a job.” He said this is where the Kern intern connection comes in. “It helps students connect the dots. They learn the skills in the classrooms and the labs but then they get to go out in a real world setting and it really turns the light on for them,” said Brian Miller, Principal of the Kern High Regional Occupational Programs.

Miller said he’s seen students start out not knowing what they want to do at all to finding an internship to getting a job and coming back to teach the next generation of students. “I am a true believer, that this is a very important part of education I see a lot of kids every year that just connect the dot.”Chapman said they are accepting applications from employers on a rolling basis.