Category: Top Stories

Report: Visalia’s Kaweah Delta hospital generates $1 billion a year locally

Central Valley Business Times

March 12, 2020

• Supports nearly 7,400 jobs directly or indirectly
• “How Kaweah Delta supports Tulare County’s economy”

Kaweah Delta medical center in Visalia does more than provide healthcare services to the region and the Central Valley — it also infuses nearly $1 billion into the local economy each year, according to a new study.

Kaweah Delta makes an estimated $973 million annual economic impact and accounts for $550.4 million or 3.2 percent of Tulare County’s economy, says an economic impact analysis commissioned by the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation and prepared by Impact DataSource of Austin, Texas.

“Many people think that, traditionally, a hospital exists to care for a community and while there are many examples of that, this study paints the bigger picture of how Kaweah Delta supports Tulare County’s economy,” says Paul Saldana, president and chief executive officer of
Tulare County Economic Development Corporation.

The study says Kaweah Delta:
• Has a workforce that makes an estimated $444 million in compensation, of which $364 million goes back into the region through its spending.
• Has 5,000 employees but creates an additional 2,382 local jobs through its employees’ spending and activity.
• Provides an average salary of $68,323 to employees, which is significantly higher than the average annual wage of $39,000 in Tulare County.
• When it recruits one new primary care physician to the area, it generates an economic impact of $2.9 million in annual economic output, 17 jobs, and $1.2 million in compensation paid. In 2019, Kaweah Delta recruited 40 new physicians of various specialties to the area.
• Supports $550.4 million in value added, which benefits nearly all local industries.

“Kaweah Delta is one of the largest employers in the county. Its workforce includes everything from doctors to nurses to people who cook and clean rooms. They are well-paid, and their paychecks help support our local economy,” says Mr. Saldana.

The study sponsored by the Sequoia Regional Economic Development Foundation and Kaweah Delta Health Care District, analyzed the total annual economic impact of the healthcare district.

Download the full report here:
www.SequoiaEconomicSummit.com

Port of Stockton operations not crimped by COVID-19 pandemic

Central Valley Business Times

March 19, 2020

  • Operations modified where needed
  • “The Port of Stockton’s ability to support our business partners has not been impacted”

California’s largest inland seaport, the Port of Stockton, is open and operating normally, officials say, although some measures are in place to prevent the spread of the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness.

“The Port of Stockton’s priority is to ensure the health and safety of all Port stakeholders; to date, the Port of Stockton’s ability to support our business partners has not been impacted by COVID-19,” says Port Director Richard Aschieris. “With our quickly changing environment, we remain vigilant and engaged with private sector stakeholders as well as local, state and federal agencies to ensure we have the latest information available and are operating per their guidance and implementing the most effective measures to support our shared goal of keeping all Port users, partners and staff safe while maintaining business continuity.”

He says the seaport has implemented a variety of measures to protect and limit contact and exposure of COVID-19 to Port employees as well to reduce the risk of a disruption to the services provided to our customers and tenants, including:

  • Reduced domestic travel to only that which is critical for the Port’s business continuity
  • Encouraged telephone or video conferencing for internal and external meetings
  • Implemented mandatory wearing of Personal Protective Equipment for staff performing essential operations and maintenance functions requiring external in-person contact
  • Implemented strategic physical separation of Port staff functions at various sites within the Port premises
  • Encouraged preventive actions recommended by the Center for Disease Control

“We will continue to monitor and respond to the changing needs created by this pandemic, ” Mr. Aschieris says.

The Port’s police department remains open 24 hours a day and its maritime and real estate departments continue to operate during normal business hours.

Updates to the Port’s status will be posted as needed to the Port’s website www.portofstockton.com (COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019, ” a respiratory illness caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. SARS stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome,” a disease first identified in Asia in 2003.)

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/2f931797-fd73-4394-b999-f3037480f26c.pdf

Central Valley schools aim to reduce poverty through job training

IN SUMMARY

Almost half of Fresno Unified students take part in career and technical programs. The training helps students as well as local industries that area struggling to find skilled workers.

On a recent school day in Fresno, Fernando Valero repaired a 32,000-pound diesel truck with failed sensors. Then he crawled under another truck before lifting it with a floor jack. The morning school work left his hands black from grease.

And his day was just getting started.

After lunch, Valero left Duncan Polytechnical High School and headed to a job where he’s paid as a regular employee. Much like his classroom labor, he works with technicians fixing trucks for local customers.

There is a good chance the 17-year-old high school senior will keep his job after he graduates in June. School officials say that’s the goal.

About a decade after a recession nearly crippled the nation’s economy and devastated the job market in California’s Central Valley, the region is still trying to pick itself up. But many education leaders hope that efforts to attract new businesses and train workers for skilled jobs are starting to work.

Valero is part of the 45% of Fresno Unified School District students who take part in career and technical programs, including medical, manufacturing and heavy-duty trucking. The pathways expose students to real-world industry work, and some, like Valero, are finding jobs while in school.

Jeremy Ward, executive officer for college and career readiness at Fresno Unified, said students who take part in career pathways consistently have a better graduation rate than students outside the programs. He said it’s because the pathway programs at each of the high schools are designed to satisfy student interest and the needs of Central Valley industries.

Most importantly, Ward said, the pathways offer students an invaluable opportunity: work experience and skills.

“It doesn’t take much to see how this benefits students who are in poverty, because it is providing them all those experiences,” he said. “It’s providing them all of that knowledge. It’s providing them real skills they can be able to take after high school to do something with it.”

The program is part of a district-wide effort. Several other Central Valley schools have developed their own career pathways. Cara Jurado, a pathway coordinator at Duncan High School, said partnerships among schools, industry and the state have led to increased investment in improving schools.

“We’re in one of the lowest socio-economic areas in town. Data shows that students from this area don’t tend to go on to high-paying jobs and that’s not right,” Jurado said. “We wanted to create opportunities.”

During school breaks, Valero is one of the few students who work eight-hour paid days. That has helped him gain knowledge and confidence from experienced workers, he said.

“If you don’t put in the time and effort, then you won’t be able to go where you want to succeed,” Valero said.

Pathway to success

Thousands of jobs have poured into the Central Valley from large corporate warehouses in recent years. But those jobs don’t always come with high wages. Some have even brought trouble for employees who are injured in intensive manual jobs.

As the Central Valley grows, efforts are underway to diversify industries and protect the economy from another recession. In diversifying and bringing higher-skilled jobs, a young, emerging workforce could prove critical to keeping those jobs local.

Eric Rubio, a heavy-duty trucking instructor at Duncan High, says this is uncharted territory. He said the skills gap is large enough where new technology like self-driving trucks and active-radar tools could overtake lower-skill jobs.

“The older technicians didn’t grow up with that technology. These (younger) guys have the aptitude and the tech-savviness to use diagnostics tools,” Rubio said.

Those changes in the industry require better-educated workers to perform the job, Rubio said.

Eric Rubio, (center), diesel truck instructor at Duncan Polytechnical High School’s Heavy Duty Truck pathway program, shows junior Asaya Kala (right) and other students the hydraulic cables connecting a truck to a trailer. Photo by John Walker/The Fresno Bee

Skills as currency

Manufacturers are struggling to maintain enough highly skilled workers. But Troy Brandt, general manager of Hydratech and chair of the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance, said local schools training students for  industry jobs has helped significantly. Colleges in the Valley also have stepped up to provide training.

He said some of his best workers have come directly out of high school.

The shortage of experienced manufacturing workers can cause a shuffle of employees among companies offering better pay. But Brandt said as long as manufacturing continues to be strong, there is an opportunity.

“We wonder why we see so much of the middle class disappearing in this country. I would attribute a lot of that to the loss of manufacturing jobs. These are good paying jobs,” Brandt said.

Adapting to a changing work landscape is a priority for employers as automation and technology  improvements will inevitably eliminate many jobs.

A 2019 study from the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution found industries should adapt to automation rather than resisting. The study, which examined about 800 occupations across nearly 100 metropolitan areas, found that automation risks vary across the country.

Almost half of males 24 and younger and underrepresented communities, such as Hispanic workers, typically hold jobs that are vulnerable to automation. The flip side, according to the study, is that automation creates different jobs if workers can learn the necessary technology skills.

“If your skill set loses its currency, then you are in danger,” said Blake Konczal, executive director of the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board. “I think we need to try to figure out where this change is going, and then try to arrange for our residents and our citizens to be able to access training that makes them competitive in whatever environment that change creates.”

Fresno County offers employee training through the New Employment Opportunity program, which helps job seekers maintain jobs and teaches them needed skills that could help them obtain good jobs.

Companies that hire workers through the program get wage reimbursement help from the county if they keep the workers, according to Jenna Lukens, contracts manager with the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation.

“This is really to get people off of the public aid system, to get themselves self-sufficient for them and their families,” she said.

‘Regional investment’

Economic leaders in the Central Valley say that warehouse work may not be a silver bullet, despite the jobs it provides. An array of occupations is part of building a resilient economy so residents are not dependent on a single industry.

After the recession caused havoc because of a lack of occupational diversity, many Valley cities struggled to recover. In Clovis, the city council had an ambitious plan to bring multinational tech companies to the city. But the recession put a strain on those plans.

A decade later, those plans have slowly materialized. A large medical complex has sprouted in northeast Clovis, next to empty lots that also await new development, according to Andrew Haussler, community and economic development director for Clovis.

“The beautiful thing about health care is that it provides stable jobs that are relatively recession-resilient,” Haussler said.

The medical complex includes plans for the first medical school in the Valley, where there is a high need for medical experts. It’s expected to enroll the first class of students in August.

Recent efforts by state legislators have also advanced goals set by Clovis leaders, including offering two years of free community college to eligible students.

“When you talk about opportunity … you can go from Clovis High to Clovis Community College … you can transfer straight into California Health Sciences University and have your doctorate in pharmacy in five years,” Haussler said. “That’s how we truly grow economically. This is really a regional investment.”

‘A completely different place’

The Fresno metropolitan area has outpaced large areas like Los Angeles in economic growth since 2005, according to data from the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation. The biggest industries in the Fresno area are crop production and food manufacturing.

But tech has in recent years created a buzz, with Bitwise Industries and other software companies that have moved into the Valley. With a growing medical field and a stronger focus to train workers in industries like manufacturing, conditions could improve for the Valley, says Amanda Bosland, client services manager with the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation.

The development corporation and several other organizations have been  working on ways to attract new business opportunities to the Valley. That has led to the creation of the Central Valley Global Trade and Investment Plan, which was developed as part of the Global Cities Initiative from the Brookings Institution and JP Morgan Chase. The plan recognized the Valley as an “up and coming” region for the state’s economic development.

“I would gamble, in the next five to 10 years, Fresno is going to be a completely different place,” Bosland said.

The plan outlined ways the Valley can improve low incomes and unemployment and also suggested stronger global engagement, something Bosland views as critical.

“While poverty is a problem, it also means we have a large population hungry for something new,” Bosland said. “It’s not easy work, and it’s pretty slow work, but it’s being done.”

Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado is a reporter with The Fresno Bee. This article is part of The California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California

CEO at Foster Farms in Livingston talks about its future. New wing flavors are in it

Dan Huber looks to the future as CEO at Foster Farms. He aims for sustainable practices in the decades ahead at the Livingston-based poultry company. And he hopes the new line of chicken wings will please Super Bowl viewers early next month.

Huber took over in February 2019 at Foster Farms, the top-selling poultry brand in the West. About 12,000 employees process turkey in Turlock and chicken in Livingston, Fresno, Porterville and four plants in the Northwest and South.

Huber, 55, talked about consumer trends, food safety, sustainability and other topics in a mid-December interview in Livingston. He has worked since 1996 for the company, founded near Waterford by Max and Verda Foster in 1939.

“Our commitment to the Valley has been as strong as ever,” Huber said. “The 80-year celebration of this company has been exciting for all of us.”

Foster Farms sells chicken and turkey in hundreds of forms. Some of it is fresh whole birds or parts, with nothing added. Shoppers also can find marinated meat, frozen and breaded items, deli slices, corn dogs and much more.

FREE-RANGE LAUNCH

Huber’s first few months featured the launch of a line of free-range chicken, from birds that have access to the outdoors. Conventional chickens and turkeys live entirely indoors but still have room to move about.

Free-range came four years after Foster Farms entered the organic and antibiotic-free niches.

The food industry this year has seen a boom in meatless burgers and other plant-based versions of carnivore fare. Huber said Foster Farms will not go that far, but will still respond to the trend. Its Farm & Garden chicken patties will contain vegetables and whole grains along with meat.

“It’s not really replacing poultry per se,” Huber said. “It’s adding to the consumer’s basket, if you will.”

The new chicken wing line is called Take Out Crispy Wings, the name suggesting that they’re as tasty as those from places such as Buffalo Wild Wings. Fosters Farms sells them in four flavors: Classic Buffalo, Sweet Chipotle BBQ, Sweet Thai Chili and Korean BBQ.

FOOD SAFETY

The CEO also oversees food-safety measures that were tightened after a salmonella outbreak in 2013. It was traced to the Livingston plant and two chicken plants in Fresno.

Huber said Foster Farms keeps the products safe with intensive sanitation and testing every step of the way.

“We do 400,000-some tests a year, tracking through the farm and through into the plants, maintaining our tight food-safety requirements,” he said.

Salmonella occurs naturally in chickens. Huber reminded consumers that it is rendered harmless by cooking to at least 165 degrees and washing up after handling the raw product.

SUSTAINABLE POULTRY

Foster Farms does not have any expansion plans that will boost its workforce substantially, Huber said. He did note upcoming improvements in Turlock that will streamline the deboning of turkey. And the company is upgrading the part of the Livingston site that supplies restaurants and other food-service clients.

Huber noted Foster Farms’ part in reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change. This will include more efficient burning of natural gas in plant boilers. Refrigerated trucks will be powered by electricity rather than diesel while sitting in the plant yards.

Not in the works for now are electric trucks on the road, something just launched at Frito-Lay in Modesto.

Most of Foster Farms’ poultry feed is corn and soy shipped from the Midwest by rail, which has less impact than trucks.

Huber took over from Laura Flanagan, who had been CEO since 2016. He has held several other posts there, most recently chief operating officer. He also had sales and management positions with Oscar Meyer and Kraft Foods. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

https://www.modbee.com/news/business/agriculture/article238340623.html?

CCVEDC Gains State Funding to Market Central California

Fresno – Assemblymembers Rudy Salas and Dr. Joaquin Arambula presented a check for $40,000 to the California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation (CCVEDC) Dec. 20 at their December board meeting in Fresno.  This is the first direct investment in economic development in the Central Valley by the state in some time. The funding will support the eight-county regional economic development efforts.

“I am pleased to play a key role in securing the resources that will allow the valley to attract more businesses and good jobs to our area,” Assemblymember Salas stated. “With this year’s budget supporting increased workforce training and economic development, families across the valley will gain more skills that will help them obtain good paying local jobs. I look forward to seeing the positive impact of CCVEDC.”

“Assemblymember Salas really championed this investment, and his support was critical to the funding being awarded,” stated Lance Lippincott, Vice Chair CCVEDC. “This funding will be utilized to attract new companies on a national and international level to the growing Central Valley economy.”

California Central Valley EDC will use the grant to market the Region and California programs to out-of-state site selectors and businesses through a comprehensive campaign: to include delivery of current data, real estate and programs by web and email; trade show attendance; targeted industry emails and Broker missions.

“I am excited, actually, for where our communities can get to in the next decade,” said Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula. “The only way we will be successful is to continue to work together and to partner like this.”

The program, already initiated, included marketing Central California in Chicago at the Process Expo Trade Show in September. The booth saw more than 1000 visitors and collected over 136 business contacts over the four day show leading to 17 businesses looking to expand their West Coast footprint.

“Process Expo represented a clear opportunity for the CCVEDC to market our region as the go to place to do business in California. Our team painted a very clear picture for industry leaders in the United States and around the globe.” Mark Hendrickson, CCVEDC Chair.

Another component of the program is regional Target Industry Spotlights that are sent to over 3,400 brokers and business leaders throughout the country and internationally. They will highlight Advanced Manufacturing, Food Processing, Logistics and eCommerce, Professional and Business Services, Health and Medical, Energy and Natural Resources. The industry information will also be available on their website: www.centralcalifornia.org.

CCVEDC previously completed a Central California Regional Profile funded by their Workforce partners in the Central California Workforce Collaborative. This was the first regional effort of this kind, benefiting both existing and new business. The profile is available online.

The California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation (CCVEDC) is a regional marketing group whose mission is to promote job creation in the valley, mountain, and desert communities located within Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare. This program supplements the existing efforts of individual agencies throughout the area.

https://hanfordsentinel.com/regional-group-gains-state-funding-to-market-central-california/article_73dce18f-2f5e-5b27-9440-a58db49869a8.html

The CVBT Podcast: Bay Area manufacturer moves headquarters to Central Valley

Central Valley Business Times

December 16, 2019

  • Jatco Incorporated finds warm welcome in Modesto
  • Uses robots and human workers for precision molding

For anyone who might have thought high-tech manufacturing cannot be found in the Central Valley, there’s a now-former San Francisco Bay Area company that might change one’s mind. It’s Jatco Incorporated, a plastic injection molding company that has packed up and moved its headquarters and main manufacturing plant to Modesto after some 40 years in the Bay Area.

“We are plastic injection molders. We’re custom molders, which means that we produce product that different OEMs require,” says Steven Jones, president of Jatco. “We product a lot of medical products, some agricultural  product, consumer product – a very wide range of plastic product … from very tiny medical parts to things the size of a curbside garbage bin.”

Mr. Jones says the company employs more than 100 workers in the new plant on Stoddard Road. Steven Jones is president of Jatco and joins us on this CVBT Audio Interview Podcast to tell why his growing company picked Modesto….

Please click here to listen:

https://americanbizradio.net/

Or here:

For more information:

https://www.jatco.com/

Registration opens for 6th “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit

 

  • Set for April 21, 2020 in Fresno
  • Features keynote speaker John Shegerian The 6th annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit is scheduled for April 21, 2020 in Fresno, say the sponsors, the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and the Fresno Business Council. It is scheduled to feature keynote speaker John Shegerian, co-founder and executive chairman of Fresno-based ERI.

More than 1,000 representatives from the manufacturing industry are expected for the day-long event at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Registration is open by visiting www.sjvma.org. Also sponsorships and exhibit space are available by contacting Genelle Taylor Kumpe via email (genelle@sjvma.org) or calling 559.214.0140.

The event is designed as a workshop and resource expo that celebrates the Valley’s history of innovation in manufacturing while providing resources and networking opportunities that continue to build a well-trained, outstanding workforce.

“The goal … is to provide manufacturers with the needed resources and workforce connections to upscale and train existing employees for today’s automated technologies, and to attract the next generation workforce to grow the industry and region for a brighter future,” says Troy Brandt, chairman of the board for the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and general manager at Hydratech.

Mr. Shegerian is scheduled to talk about how to attract and retain effective employees and clients through good times and bad. As an entrepreneur, Mr. Shegerian co-founded several organizations built on his philosophies of making the world a better place one business at a time, and of providing a second chance to those who are most in need. His philosophies have led him to run the largest electronic recycling company in the U.S., among other ventures.

“The convention center will be filled with the leading lights of the Central Valley’s manufacturing industry and many of my fellow local business leaders, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to share useful takeaways regarding positive culture team building and how to balance best employee retention practices and effective operations with growing a profitable enterprise,” says Mr. Shegerian.

The San Joaquin Valley’s manufacturing industry is responsible for nearly $15 billion of the Valley’s gross domestic product and employs more than 105,000 people. Nationally, it is estimated that over the next decade, almost 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs will need to be filled due to baby-boomer retirements.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/c1ad790b-010c-4a85-8e70-0e8f5ff54f78.pdf

WE’RE BACK, BABY! FRESNO TOP AG COUNTY ONCE AGAIN

Workers sort navel oranges earlier this year at Kings River Packing, northeast of Sanger. Photo by David Castellon.

Published On October 8, 2019 – 11:23 AM
Written By David Castellon

For the first time since 2013, Fresno County is the top agricultural county in California and the U.S.

This news comes with the Tuesday morning release of the 2018 Tulare County crop and livestock report, which shows sales of agricultural goods produced there last year totaled more than $7.21 billion, a 2.5% increase from ag sales in 2017.

In 2017, Kern County was the top ag county based on sales, followed by Tulare and Fresno counties, respectively.

But based on this latest crop report and those previously released, Fresno County shot up in the rankings to the top spot, with 2018 gross ag sales totaling more than $7.88 billion, followed by more than $7.46 billion in sales by Kern County farmers, ranchers, apiarists and others.

Although the data on 2018 ag sales isn’t in for all California counties and those in the rest of country, Fresno, Tulare and Kern have far and away been the top ag-producing counties in the nation in terms of ag sales.

For years, Fresno held on solidly to the first-place spot until Tulare County knocked it off that spot in 2014. After that, the top ag county title was held annually by either Tulare or Kern counties.

A big part of the reason for Fresno County falling short of the No. 1 ranking those years was due to California’s five-year drought that began in late 2011— the worst in the state’s recorded history — causing major water shortages in the western end of Fresno County that forced farmers there to limit their farming or let fields go fallow.

Weather and water conditions have since improved in the region.

As for the other South Valley counties, ag sales in Kings County totaled more than $2.35 billion last year and $2.05 billion in Madera County.

Those two counties ranked ninth and eleventh, respectively, among California’s ag counties in 2017.

It wasn’t immediately clear how they ranked statewide or nationally in 2018, as those tallies will not be compiled and disclosed until next year.

Madera, Kings and the other three South Valley counties all saw their ag sales totals increase last year.

For Tulare County, long the top dairy county in the U.S., it’s no surprise milk was the top-selling ag commodity in 2018, with sales totaling more than $1.68 billion. But that was down more than 5% — $93.1 million — from 2017 sales.

The report shows that the price of milk purchased from dairies declined from about $16.39 per hundredweight — 100 pounds — in 2017 by about a dollar in 2018, which reduced the total income dairies in the county received for their milk, even though production was up slightly.

It goes on to say that poultry and livestock values among Tulare County sales also declined slightly in 2018.

Sales of field crops rose nearly 9% from 2017 to 2018, which the county’s agricultural commissioner and his staff attributed to higher prices paid for them, while the 5.7% rise in sales of fruits and nuts is at least partially attributed to farmers expanding their production acreage of blueberries, pomegranates and tangerines.

Sales of ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as nursery-raised products, experienced even more vigorous growth over the same period of 47% and 34.7%, respectively, while sales of vegetable crops declined nearly 16% to $17. 2 million.

Part of the reason for the latter drop was due to farmers harvesting 931 fewer acres of vegetables last year compared to 2017, according to the crop report.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/were-back-baby-fresno-top-ag-county-once-again/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=bfd5b60568-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_08_08_31&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-bfd5b60568-78934409&mc_cid=bfd5b60568&mc_eid=a126ded657

Kern quickly rises to become California’s top hemp-producing county

As of Friday afternoon, the county’s Agricultural Commissioner’s Office had registered 33 different entities planning to grow hemp on 76 sites comprising 6,864 acres, a county-wide total the agency said eclipses every other in the state.

With interest skyrocketing among local and out-of-town investors, there is some concern the boom in hemp cultivation could lead to a glut of material to produce the trendy cure-all cannabidiol, or CBD. But the plant itself is versatile enough that market participants are hopeful the crop is here to stay.

“I’d like to see this become a crop on your top-10 list in Kern County,” said Arvin-area hemp grower Kent Stenderup. The diversified farmer said he gets phone calls every week from people interested in contracting his company to grow the plant or show them how to do it themselves.

So many people have contacted county ag officials about their intentions of growing hemp locally that such inquiries now take about 80 percent of their time, said Cerise Montanio, deputy director of Kern’s Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

WIDE INTEREST

State records show Kern hemp registrations have been issued to companies with mailing addresses as far away as Encino. Companies with names like CA Hempire and Freedom Farms LLC have gotten approval to grow on various parcels concentrated in the Lamont and Arvin area.

Questions remain as to how well-rooted the plant is locally. Montanio said harvesting techniques remain experimental and that it’s still unclear how many of the hemp fields being grown now will meet the requirement that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, accounts for no more than about one-third of 1 percent of the plant’s chemistry.

“It’s a tricky little game,” she said, adding that any plant testing greater than that THC threshold must be destroyed.

HANDS-OFF APPROACH

One reason Kern has attracted so much interest, she said, is the county’s accommodating regulations. Other counties have caps on how much acreage may be used to produce hemp, while others ban cultivation of the plant altogether, she said. But not Kern.

“We don’t have a moratorium. We don’t have ordinances,” she said.  “We are allowing it.”

She and Stenderup expressed worries the surge of interest in CBD oil may quickly lead to over-planting. Stenderup said he hopes the situation doesn’t soon create a market “bubble.”

Even if the CBD market doesn’t need as much hemp as is being grown, though, Montanio said the plant’s strong fiber could prove useful for things like textiles, straws and even automobile parts.

ADDED BENEFITS

On the other hand, Kern’s openness to the crop may allow it to capitalize on another aspect of the CBD trend: oil processing.

The director of the county’s Planning and Natural Resources Department, Lorelei Oviatt, noted that hemp plants may be turned into oil within the county’s borders, but that this activity can only take place legally on land zoned for agricultural use. Once that’s done, however, the oil can be processed into creams or lotions on non-ag real estate.

She was optimistic hemp’s relatively low consumption of water would help Kern farmers weather upcoming restrictions on groundwater pumping. Plus, the need to extract oil from the crop is already bringing underused ag processing plants in the Arvin area back to life.

This community college in Stockton has been named one of the best in the country

 

SAN JOAQUIN DELTA COLLEGE

San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton was recently named the fourth best community college in the United States.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, analyzed 710 community colleges across the country on a variety of merits and found that the nearby school was the best in California.

Local colleges in the Los Rios Community College District made the list as well, with Folsom Lake College placing 118th overall and 18th in California, American River College placing 148th overall and 22nd in California, Sacramento City College placing 186th overall and 28th in California, Sierra College placing 253rd overall and 40th in California, and Cosumnes River College placing 397th overall and 60th in California.

WalletHub’s ranking is based on tuition costs – San Joaquin Delta College received praise for its affordability – educational outcomes and career outcomes.

The Stockton community college tied for third lowest in-state tuition along with American River College, Sacramento City College and Folsom Lake College.

San Joaquin Delta College’s enrollment fees for California residents are just $46 per unit, which adds up to $552 for a full academic load of 12 units.

The community college was beat out by State Technical College of Missouri in first place overall, Arkansas State University, Mountain Home in second place and Southern Arkansas University Tech in third.

These three colleges received higher marks from WalletHub in terms of educational outcomes, though still were given lower scores for cost, and the top two were given higher marks for career outcomes. San Joaquin Delta College was given a significantly better score for career outcomes than Southern Arkansas University Tech.

https://www.fresnobee.com/news/california/article234221017.html