Category: Quality of Life

How One Central Valley City is Supporting Entrepreneurs

One of the first cities in U.S. history to pilot a universal basic income, or UBI, program, Stockton, California is not a city afraid of a little experimentation. That kind of creative thinking isn’t limited to the city’s social programs, either. Recognizing that entrepreneurship is — and will be — at the heart of the economy of today and tomorrow, the city offers a range of innovative economic development programs that have already attracted entrepreneurs from across the region and around the country to establish their businesses in Stockton. As young businesses and startups — particularly in their infancy — require a lot of support, that’s where public sector policies and programs make a real difference. These programs assist these emerging companies while entrepreneurs refine their ideas and business plans, seek investment, and scale their operations.

Here’s how the city of Stockton has created a strong support network for entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship grants The city of Stockton created its Entrepreneurship Grant program, funded by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program, which aims to promote economic opportunity for low and moderate-income individuals. The Entrepreneurship Grant program offers funding to Stockton-based business service providers and entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses in the city. 2020 was the first year that the grant, which offers up to $200,000 in total funding, was extended to Stockton entrepreneurs directly. In prior years, the grant was only available to business service organizations that provided services and assistance to Stockton-based small businesses or entrepreneurs. The extension has been well-received by the Stockton business community, and work is already underway by the city to bring the program back again next year. Information on how to apply for a 2021 grant will be announced soon.

Non-traditional spaces One of the most enduring concepts to arise out of major entrepreneurship ecosystems is the co-working office space. These innovative shared offices combine the infrastructure and service level of commercial office rentals, the economy of a flexible, scalable workspace, and the comfort and community of a neighborhood coffee shop. Co-working spaces help foster a culture of entrepreneurship in a city, and have even led to innovative synergies with other startups under the same roof. Entrepreneurs who make the move to Stockton will feel at home in one of the city’s familiar, though distinctive, co-working spaces. Via Ventures offers the comfort coworking veterans are accustomed to in a design-centric setting, while Huddle x Launch Pad serves as the Stockton annex for Launch Pad’s national network of quality neighborhood office spaces. Located just a couple blocks from each other, the spaces have been a welcomed addition to Downtown Stockton, a vibrant district located along the San Joaquin River filled with attractions such as cafes, shops, galleries, restaurants, bars, theaters, and a minor league ballpark, home to the Stockton Ports, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

Guidance and mentorship The most diverse city in the country according to a U.S. News and World Report analysis, Stockton is creating an entrepreneurship ecosystem that reflects diversity and leverages the strengths of the city’s community. Historically underserved entrepreneurs often lack the access and know-how to navigate entrepreneurial spaces and ecosystems. Strategic interventions can help reduce that gap. Supported in part by the city of Stockton, the Launch Pad Foundation (the nonprofit arm of the Launch Pad co-working network) has developed an innovative scholarship program aimed to reduce gaps in opportunity and access to entrepreneurial spaces. The foundation provides free full memberships for co-working spaces to qualified entrepreneurs, who are selected together with strategic partners in the city. The program also provides access to curricula and programming designed to help entrepreneurs and their businesses achieve success.

Stockton also offers a number of mentorship and training programs available to minority entrepreneurs, such as Centro Community Partners’ Basic Entrepreneurship Program, which offers business planning instruction in both English and Spanish to local entrepreneurs. Other minority-geared programs include the African American Chamber of Commerce’s BRIDGES Entrepreneur program, which holds workshops and webinars geared towards African American business owners and entrepreneurs, and the Main Street Entrepreneur-In-Residence program, which includes a 10-week business training boot camp, office space, financial capital, a monthly stipend and more to eligible Stockton-based African-American business owners accepted into the program. All three programs are either currently funded or have previously been funded in part by Stockton Entrepreneurship Grants. Also noteworthy is local nonprofit Stockton Community Kitchen, which works to help under-resourced food entrepreneurs succeed by offering mentorship and education in the skills necessary to succeed in the food industry. Utilizing its fully-staffed commercial kitchen and classroom spaces, the Community Kitchen provides low-income entrepreneurs with innovative food concepts a program rich in technical and emotional support. Accepting applications on a rolling schedule, Stockton Community Kitchen programs are offered three times per year.

Artists and makers welcome Artists and makers feeling shut out by the prohibitive cost of living and lack of resources for emerging creatives in many major cities will find Stockton’s low cost of living and high quality of life a welcome change. For young creatives looking to develop their technique and sensibility, resources such as Hatch Workshop Center for Emerging Makers are available. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization offers low-cost memberships to the workshop’s ceramic, wood and metal-working, and fabrication tools and machinery as well as expert training and education from makers and artists. Creatives will also benefit from a strong local demand for their work fostered by marketplaces like Stockmarket, which (due to Covid-19) currently functions as an all-online virtual artists and makers fair until open air markets are once again deemed safe.

https://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2020/10/13/how-one-central-valley-city-is-supporting-entrepre.html

Research shows more people migrating to Central Valley during pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — The pandemic has resulted in many people not only working from home, but they’re also looking for ways to reduce their rent payments. As a result, the Valley has seen more people moving here from outside the area. Luxury apartments at The Residences at the Row in northeast Fresno have been quickly filled as the complex builds out the new complex. Many units were leased before they even became available.

Manco Abbott specializes in property management. Chief Operating Officer Adam Goldfarb said, “We see a lot of influx this year, especially with the brand new construction properties with a lot of the new amenities, are moving there and quite often it’s from out of town.” The website Apartment List helps people find apartments but research it has been conducting revealed an interesting trend when it comes to Fresno apartments. A large number of searches for Fresno units were coming from different parts of the state, especially Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Apartment List Research Associate Rob Warnock explained, “This year, people from outside Fresno accounted for 35% so we saw about a 6-7% point increase in that search activity from people outside of the region.” Goldfarb said luxury properties were appealing to many people coming here from outside the region. Rents at The Row ranged from $1600 to $2300 a month but the complex also featured a fitness center and a pool. Many people who were working from home were drawn to the free high-speed internet that was offered. Goldfarb noted, “They’re going to the higher-end communities moving from big metropolitan areas. They’re used to apartments with all the bells and whistles.” But as money becomes tighter, more families seemed to be looking to relocate in more affordable areas Warnock said, “A lot of people need to find a cheaper place to live as a result of the economic fallout of the pandemic.”

Apartment List added its research showed roughly the same amount of people moving here from out of town, about 35%, were also looking to move out of the Valley. Last year the number was higher – at 42%.

‘We’re all COVID-free:’ Pro-surfers back in the Valley, compete in WSL’s Rumble at the Ranch for charity

Madera Drive-in Reopens to Sold-out Crowd

MADERA, California (KSEE) – The Madera Drive-in reopened to moviegoers Friday to a packed audience. Vice President of Operations Bob Gran Jr. said they were just about to kick off the season when the pandemic hit. “We’ve worked hand in hand with the Madera County Health Department to mitigate all those measures against the virus,” he said.

The more than 300 car capacity lot has been cut to about 200, allowing at least ten feet between vehicles. Markers for social distancing were placed leading to the now outdoor snack bar and everyone is asked to stay inside their vehicles unless they have to get out (then masks are required). Despite all the new rules, the crowd still came. “Oh, it’s going to be a sell out,” Gran Jr. said. He was right, a line of moviegoers wrapped around the block. Among them was Ralph Westcott, who says the rules are worth the reward. “This, not having to set anything up yourself at home, it’s just the family time,” he said.

“It is nice to see them reopen – especially with a lot of people taking safety precautions, so that way we’re still conscious of other people’s health and safety, so that’s why I think this is way better than sitting in a regular movie theater,” said Erica Chuvichien. Gran said he wants everyone to willingly comply with the new guidelines, but they will be enforced, and people who don’t follow will be asked to leave. “If you can, please wait until we return to normal. You can come out and enjoy the normal drive-in experience. Right now it’s a special drive-in experience,,” Gran Jr. said.

This week the theater is playing Trolls World Tour and Doolittle on side one, and Knives Out and the Hunt on side two.

https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/local-news/madera-drive-in-reopens-to-sold-out-crowd/#:~:text=MADERA%2C%20California%20(KSEE)%20%E2%80%93,season%20when%20the%20pandemic%20hit.

Plant sales increase as more people take on gardening

Throughout the Central Valley nurseries are deemed essential because they sale fruits, vegetables, and outdoor plants. With numerous businesses temporary closed to stay at home restrictions, more and more people are turning to gardening swamping local nurseries with their business.

https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/plant-sales-increase-as-more-people-take-on-gardening/

Virtual wine trail in Madera County brings community together

Madera County is home to a variety of wineries like Toca Madera Winery, which are now coming to you with virtual tastings. “We’ve turned into a virtual winery basically. So virtual tastings on Instagram and Facebook on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at 5. We do private virtual tastings and doorstep delivery has become our thing,” said Shayne Vetter, a winemaker for Toca Madera Winery. Vetter says they’ve seen a lot of support from local wine drinkers. People purchase their estate wines, tune-in and drink up.

https://www.yosemitethisyear.com/eventdetail/15081/virtual-wine-tasting

New bookstore to open in downtown Hanford

A local business owner is turning the page and opening a brand new bookstore in downtown Hanford. Running a business isn’t new for Janie Isidoro. She’s been managing a shop in Visalia, but as an author, she always dreamed of owning her own bookstore one day. “I’m a writer, so I had my books on my shelf, but then I started bringing in other books as well,” said Isidoro. When their building was sold, and they had to relocate last November, Janie decided it was time for a new chapter.

Kernville, Bakersfield breweries combine for five medals at nation’s top beer festival

Kern River Brewing Co. has developed an impressive array of award-winning beers. A pair of Kern breweries took home an extraordinary five medals at the Great American Beer Festival last weekend in Denver — a testament, the local winners say, to the county’s sophisticated approach to beer-making. Kernville’s Kern River Brewing Co. took home two golds and two silvers, as well as the Brewery Group of the Year honor, while Temblor Brewing Co. in Bakersfield won bronze.

Signed State Budget Delivers Millions for the Valley

Friday, June 28, 2019

Funding included for Career Technical Education, Safe Drinking Water, and Valley Fever

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) issued the following statement regarding Governor Newsom’s signing of the 2019-2020 state budget:

“Governor Newsom’s first state budget reinforces California’s commitment to supporting working families, small businesses, students, seniors and veterans.  This budget builds record reserves for a rainy day and pays off debt while doing more to shore up working families and tackle challenges of affordability and quality of life,” said Assemblymember Salas.  “This budget invests in the Central Valley by addressing the healthcare workforce shortage, allocating $2 million to support valley fever research and providing millions to address safe and affordable drinking water.  The budget also includes funding to help train, grow, and support our workforce and students by expanding workforce development and youth leadership programs.”

State Budget Includes:

  • $2 million to the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical Center to support valley fever research
  • $12.5 million General Fund one-time for safe drinking water in the Central Valley, including $2.5 million to bring communities like Arvin into compliance with safe drinking water standards
  • $705,000 for three Independent Living Centers (ILC), including ILC of Kern County
  • $40,000 for the California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation
  • $1.1 million for planning of Bakersfield College Delano Center: Learning Resource Center Multi-Purpose Building
  • $1.6 million for planning of West Hills College Lemoore Instructional Center Phase 1
  • $12 million over three years for the Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative

 

The main budget bill – AB 74 – can be found here.

Valley Fever Funding

“We are grateful to Assemblymember Rudy Salas for authoring this legislation and bringing critical funding to Kern County – where it is needed the most.  As Medical Director for the Valley Fever Institute at Kern Medical, I am honored to lead our clinical team as we continue our mission to increase education and awareness for the public, patients and health care providers; provide the best patient care available and promote research that includes epidemiology, clinical drug development, prevention, immunology and immunizations.  The $2 million in funding will directly help the patients we care for every day at the Valley Fever Institute.” – Royce Johnson, M.D., Medical Director of the Kern Medical Valley Fever Institute and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Kern Medical

“Every day at the Valley Fever Institute we care for patients fighting Valley Fever.  The $2 million will benefit countless people in Kern County and beyond.  We are grateful to our dedicated legislators for supporting this critical funding and working with us to ensure the health of our community.” – Russell V. Judd, CEO, Kern Medical

 

Dolores Huerta and Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center’s Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative (YFCEI)

“We are grateful that the legislature and the Governor have made it possible to expand the Dolores Huerta Foundation and Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center’s Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative (YFCEI) to reach more underserved youth throughout California, with a focus on youth engagement, youth empowerment and leadership development utilizing the philosophies of non-violence advocates.  The leadership training that the youth receive will be magnified tenfold as the youth take the lessons learned to address and resolve the many issues that they are confronted with in their respective communities.” – Dolores Huerta

This funding supports the YFCEI’s efforts to serve young people in 12 counties throughout California over the next three years.

 

Independent Living Centers of Kern County

“We want to express our gratitude and dedication to Assemblymember Salas and his staff for the work they have done to maintain equal base rate funding of all Independent Living Centers in CA.  These continued funds come directly to Kern County and stay in Kern County to support the needs of all people with disabilities.” – Jimmie Soto, Executive Director of the Independent Living Center of Kern County

 

California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation

“The California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation is excited about this unique investment to further business development in the Central Valley.  We greatly appreciate Assemblyman Salas championing this effort, and look forward to the development of new and expanding businesses as a result of this program.” – Lance Lippincott, CEO and President of Kings County Economic Development Corporation

We anticipate additional funding for the Central Valley as the Governor signs the remaining budget trailer bills.

https://a32.asmdc.org/press-releases/20190628-signed-state-budget-delivers-millions-valley

$30 million boutique hotel planned for Three Rivers

It was standing room only at the Three Rivers Memorial Building on Wednesday evening, as more than 100 locals turned out to discuss the future of the small foothill community during a town hall meeting.

Much of the debate centered on a proposed 200-room, $30 million “luxury lodge” off Highway 198 and Old Three Rivers Road.

District 1 Supervisor Kuyler Crocker said the town hall meeting was intended to educate residents and hear their concerns.

“We are much closer to the starting line than the finish line here,” Crocker said of the proposed hotel. “Now is the opportunity to learn and give feedback.”

Dubbed Sequoia Resort and Spa in preliminary site plans, the boutique hotel would feature striking, earthen architecture and offer guests an experience directly inspired by the backdrop of Sequoia National Park.

Because the land is already zoned for hotel construction and abides by the Three River Community Plan, principal partner Guatam Patel could legally begin construction without public hearing.

However, Patel told the packed room he is committed to incorporating community feedback into the project’s design, having already sunk 2.5 years and more than $500,000 into finding an appropriate site.

“We are committed to having a local flair to this. That’s where modern hotel design is going,” he said. “Guests don’t want to sit trapped in their room for three nights. They want to go out and experience the local spots.”

The flair will cost you: Rooms at the resort are expected to run at least $300 a night, Patel said.

That was great news to at least one Three Rivers hotelier, who offers a comparatively humbler — and affordable — stay at the Sequoia Motel a mile up the road from the proposed resort.

“It’s not going to compete with us,” said Chris Schlossin, who opened the 12-room motel 23 years ago. “Three Rivers doesn’t have anything of that caliber. It would be a little glowing star on the map.”

Competition

For Schlossin, Airbnb is a much bigger threat to business.

Large groups of tourists rent out vacation homes on the app for rates at which local lodgings can’t compete. The county presented a draft short-term rental ordinance that Schlossin hopes will remedy the situation with occupancy limits on Airbnb homes.

Neither Airbnb or Sequoia Motel is likely to compete with the luxury project Patel envisions, however.

“It’s a high-end place. That’s something the county doesn’t have,” Schlossin said. “It’s encouraging that they’re reaching out to the community. You gotta give the man (Patel) credit for being a good neighbor.”

Patel committed to incorporating local businesses into the hotel’s operation, so long as they “meet a high operational standard,” including a restaurant and retail space. He hopes that the resort could be a draw during the off-season, benefiting local businesses.

“You only have three-to-four months to make your money here. If they could improve business during the shoulder months, that would be wonderful,” Schlossin said.

The bulk of the 102,000-square-foot project will be built offsite, so builders can erect the building in Three Rivers in a matter of days, minimizing disruption to the environment and neighbors, Patel said.

Housing for the hotel’s estimated 30 employees will be included with the project, so as not to further crunch Three River’s long-term rental and housing market.

He also addressed community concerns surrounding water and the area’s fickle water table.

“This is the water nobody else in the community wants, but that we will use and pay dearly to use,” Patel said, pointing to a state-of-the-art company the developer hopes to partner with to treat water and manage effluent.

Besides water, many residents were concerned about the possibility of a rumored incentive to build the $30 million hotel project in Tulare County.

Last year, the Sierra Star reported that Madera County supervisors cut Patel a deal to move ahead with a similar hotel project in Oakhurst, near Yosemite National Park.

The incentive took the form of a 50% rebate on the hotel’s transient occupancy tax over 25 years. TOT is a tax levied on travelers who stay at a hotel for fewer than 30 days.

The rate varies by county. In Tulare County, the TOT is 10%.

Crocker said the county hadn’t settled on a number yet and discussions with developer Patel Group were still ongoing.

“I understand why (the county) would (offer Patel) a deal for an upscale development, but it’s still frustrating that other hotels have to pay the full tax. We didn’t get any breaks,” Schlossin said.

The supervisor pointed out that such arrangements were common and would benefit both the county and the developer, providing financial incentives to build while capturing tax revenue that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

“The TOT rebate is favorable to attract business and generate long-term economic activity and taxable commerce,” Crocker said.

Some at the town hall questioned whether that tax should be used to benefit only the Three Rivers community, rather than the county’s general fund.

The argument was a no-go for Crocker.

“While Three Rivers does generate more TOT tax, other county communities generate much more sales tax or property tax and we don’t give them special treatment,” Crocker said. “I’m not going to write a blank check to Three Rivers or any other county community.”

The supervisor pointed to a $400,000 restroom project and expansion of the Three Rivers Historical Museum slated to be completed by the of the year.

The project was paid for out of the county’s general fund, Crocker said.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/local/visalia/2019/07/26/30-million-boutique-hotel-planned-three-rivers-despite-concerns/1827892001/