Is prefab an ab-fab solution to housing in Bakersfield?

Between undulating yellow hills along the valley floor, workers inside a 270,000-square-foot warehouse are pre-building homes for the future. Their destinations: Santa Monica, Lake Tahoe, Mountain Village, Colo.

Since opening its $40 million facility last fall, Plant Prefab has commenced large-scale work on modular housing, where each section of a home is built and assembled in its factory in the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center before being conveyed by truck to a destined lot.

Whereas modern prefabs have historically been geared toward the custom-built dreams of the wealthy, founder, CEO and Chairman Steve Glenn said Plant Prefab’s operation is entirely focused on affordable housing. All of its projects are multifamily units, most of which are being sent to the Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay areas — “places where land is expensive, labor is expensive and labor is scarce,” he said.

Amid California’s housing shortage and staggering costs to construct, manufactured housing is increasingly sought out as a lucrative option — by developers and elected officials alike — to build homes as cheaply and efficiently as possible.

“I think, for a time, there was a perception that prefab housing was substandard,” said Bakersfield Councilman Andrae Gonzales, who in February toured the facility along with fellow Councilman Bob Smith and City Manager Christian Clegg. “We wanted to go out and see the facility for ourselves.”

According to the city’s regional housing needs assessment, Bakersfield needs more than 37,000 units built by the end of 2031. That breaks down to 4,600 homes annually, including 2,277 low-income units.

City officials have in recent years ramped up several options for increasing housing production locally. With $5 million allocated to its affordable housing trust fund each year, the city pays for the construction of public housing projects in tandem with a patchwork of state and federal grants.

At a committee meeting in November, officials found that 10 of the 16 affordable housing projects in Bakersfield, plagued by delays, won’t be completed until 2025 or 2026. Delays were blamed on rising costs of construction, pandemic-era gaps in supply chains and a lack of private investment that leaves public housing at the mercy of outside grants, which can take months to approve and administer.

The average affordable housing unit in Bakersfield costs about $300,000, Gonzales said.

“Sometimes even more,” he added.

But “solution is too strong a word” to describe modular housing, Glenn said. “Are they an incredible part of the solution? One hundred percent.”

Modular housing can be built much faster than standard construction — 20% to 50% faster, according to a Plant Prefab news release. The factory is capable of building 5 million square feet per year, Glenn said, or about 2,500 single-family homes averaging 2,000 square feet each.

A tour of the facility shows it operates like an assembly line, inheriting automotive-type techniques and applying them to the construction of buildings.

But improvements have come since the era of Henry Ford and the $5 workday. The solar-powered facility is largely automated, meaning panels and components are cut with surgical precision. This takes less of a bite out of the planet and that of a developer’s pocketbook, resulting in less than 2% waste compared with 30% to 40% seen on some on-site builds.

Of all the projects underway, however, zero are in Kern County. “But ironically, they’re the greatest in need of a solution because of the disparity between their costs and scarcity of labor in urban infill versus what we can do here,” Glenn said.

Modular construction has its limitations. For one, it’s not always cheaper to build in a factory as opposed to on-site, considering the cost to transport materials across several states. Site labor can sometimes be cheaper, also depending on the location.

Modular construction has not been able to avoid high interest rates that stall the scale and speed of projects slated for construction. “That’s impacted us,” he said. “We’re busy but not nearly as busy as we had hoped to be.”

The factory is running a single eight-hour shift. It employs 52 workers at a facility Glenn said could take on up to 200 people.

“It takes time to implement it well,” he said.

The only prefab affordable housing project currently in Bakersfield is the CityServe Elevate project along F Street just south of Golden State Avenue. Originally slated for a February opening, the 126-unit development has been delayed by earlier inclement weather and other delays.

Government officials and developers agree prefab is one of many tools cities should take advantage of. There’s also the prospect of building conversion; Bakersfield officials recently pledged to purchase the Ramkabir Motel for $1.4 million, with plans to convert the 37-unit site into affordable housing under the city’s community land trust program.

The city is also looking at updating its zoning laws to allow for more multifamily units in areas that don’t require parking. And Bakersfield’s financial department is halfway through an overhaul of its online permitting system, which a city spokesperson said should be done within the next two months.

“Right now, our permitting process is too unpredictable. It’s too complex, and it takes too long,” Gonzales said.

With a 37% rise noted in this year’s survey of Kern County’s homeless population — half of which lives within Bakersfield city limits — officials are desperately seeking prospective venues for more affordable housing.

Business owner in Madera County gets high recognition

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) — Steel Structures Inc. in Madera County takes a flat sheet of steel and transforms it into massive tools that help drive our economy.

“If it has to be stored or processed, we build it,” says Company President Dan Riley.

The manufacturing plant has four buildings on nine acres and handles projects of all sizes.

Some stay local — others are shipped across the world.

“I have shipped to Guam, Barbados, Australia about three times,” he said. “Florida, Central Valley, West Coast and anything that makes sense.”

In April, the Small Business Association recognized Dan Riley, the company’s president, as the 2024 Small Business Person of the Year.

It’s a recognition he’s humbled to receive as the third generation of the family-owned business.

Riley says it’s important to him to continue the legacy that started with his grandfather in 1952 and pass it on to his two sons one day.

“I feel proud, and I feel honored,” he said. “Being able to do it and trying to overcome obstacles and changing times, presidents, policies, wars, we have survived a lot. Now, my greatest honor is to do my diligence and get my two boys involved.”

Riley says he is thankful for all the employees who help keep their family legacy strong.

He also shows his gratitude by giving back to our community.

“We always do it mainly for the community to give back and support,” he said. “I am a Rotarian and a veteran. I am involved in a lot of service clubs. The goal is always to give back. A rising tide floats all ships.”

Riley’s youngest says he’s been working with his dad since he was a young teen and is excited to be part of the growing business and serve more areas in the future.

2023 Moments & Milestones

As we round off 2023, we are excited to reflect back on some of the moments and milestones that made this year such a meaningful one for BEAM Circular and our community.

The Launch of BEAM Circular

January marked the official kickoff of the BioEconomy, Agriculture, & Manufacturing (BEAM) Initiative with a seed commitment of $10 million by Stanislaus County. BEAM was catalyzed by Stanislaus 2030 (Stan2030), a public-private partnership that advances a shared vision for economic prosperity. Stan2030 identified the growing bioeconomy as a unique opportunity for the region to generate quality jobs and recommended specific strategies to nurture the growth of bioindustry activities in our region. BEAM Circular was formed to drive these strategies forward, and to establish the tri-county North San Joaquin Valley as a global leader in the circular bioeconomy. We are now working alongside a growing coalition of public and private partners to align the resources, policies, talent, and innovation necessary to transform waste into economic and environmental solutions for local communities in the Valley and beyond.

National Science Foundation Engines Development Award

The announcement in May of a $1 million award from the NSF was a watershed moment for BEAM Circular and our partner coalition, CBIO Collaborative, co-led by UC Merced and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our team is among an inaugural cohort of just a few dozen projects across the U.S. supported by the new NSF Regional Innovation Engines program to catalyze economic, societal, and technological opportunities. The award recognizes our community’s promise as a rising leader in circular bioeconomy innovation, and it is supporting ongoing planning efforts to drive R&D and scale-up of bio-based products and climate solutions.

Hosting Leaders from Sacramento and Around the World

An especially meaningful part of our work is celebrating our unique region, forging new connections, and sharing learnings about the circular bioeconomy through site visits with leaders and collaborators from around the world. One of our favorite visits this year was a tour we hosted in February for Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). “This is exactly what we need for the future,” said Secretary Ross of BEAM. “This is about solving problems and finding productive solutions for our renewable resources, and about creating sustainable, community-inclusive economic growth and jobs to support families in the rural communities of the Central Valley.” (Read more about the tour in the CDFA Blog)

Another highlight was hosting a delegation from the Emerson Collective of climate solution leaders from around the world. The Emerson Fellow cohort joined us in the valley for a two-day learning tour in July to explore innovation at the intersections of food and agriculture, climate, and community. The visit included meetings with the Almond Board of California, Turlock Irrigation District, UC Merced and F3 Innovate, North Valley Labor Federation, Edge Collaborative, ARKEN Strategies and farmworker partners, including Binational of Central California, among other community leaders.

$3.6 Million California Economic Development Pilot Grant

In May, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $3.6 million pilot award to BEAM Circular as part of California Jobs First. The funding will help launch a variety of activities across BEAM’s portfolio, including an accelerator program, technical assistance for local businesses, community engagement work, research on the bioeconomy supply chain, and workforce development programs. The grant is part of a total $15.4 million committed to the BEAM Initiative over its first year from federal, state, local, and private sources, establishing a strong foundation for long-term investment in our community and vision for a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive economy.

The CBIO Collaborative Design Forum

In October, BEAM Circular convened over 100 diverse partners and collaborators at Modesto Junior College for a full day of interactive planning, learning sessions, design workshops, and engagement with leading bioeconomy innovators and community advocates. This CBIO Collaborative event was a critical opportunity for collaborators across sectors to shape the direction of our regional ecosystem, with outputs shared in the CBIO year-end report.

Building the BEAM Team

As we head into 2024, we are tremendously grateful and heartened by the countless enthusiastic and creative partners who have shaped our work to date. We want to particularly appreciate our incubating partner Opportunity Stanislaus, along with the CBIO Collaborative leadership team and the many subject matter advisers who have supported and guided our work to date.

We are also delighted to share that BEAM Circular is growing its staff team, with the recent addition of several key hires including Chief Operating & Financial Officer Maria Olide, Director of Community Engagement Matthew Godinez, and Program and Operations Associate Jessica Hilboldt.

We look forward to continuing to grow our community of partners, collaborators, and changemakers in the year to come, and to building upon the momentum of this inspiring first year. Thank you for being part of the journey!

In partnership,

Karen Warner

Founder and CEO, BEAM Circular

Kern developers look to avoid Inland Empire’s logistics problems

The Inland Empire’s overcrowded logistics and warehousing industry presents more to Kern County than just economic opportunity. It offers what some see as an example of how not to proceed. Growing concern about air pollution in San Bernardino and Riverside counties last month prompted dozens of environmental and community organizations to send a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for a regional moratorium on new warehouse development. He declined, but expectations are that legislation will be reintroduced soon for imposing a 1,000-foot buffer zone between new construction of warehouses and sensitive sites like homes.

As industrial development accelerates in Kern County — in large part, to take up slack created by obstacles to continued expansion in the Inland Empire — developers hope to avoid making the same mistakes in a region that already suffers from air quality that typically ranks as the worst in the country. With its haphazard, inefficient development, the Inland Empire is “not the model that anyone wants to emulate,” said John Guinn, the former Shafter city manager now overseeing private development of the Wonderful Industrial Park, a 1,600-acre, master-planned logistics hub expected to jump from 9,000 employees in Shafter now to 25,000 in the years to come.

The property’s Los Angeles-based owner and developer, The Wonderful Co., for which Guinn works as executive vice president of real estate, says it engages regularly with local environmental justice groups on ensuring sustainability and maximizing community benefit. The company’s Shafter industrial park is located more than a mile from the nearest residence. Wonderful points to investments, existing and planned, for providing renewable energy at the site for operations and transportation fuel. The company also highlights plans for rerouting drayage trucks away from vulnerable communities around Shafter.

“We have carefully planned and worked in collaboration with partners in the region to ensure operations are efficient without adding to those burdens where people live,” Guinn said. “This is where our own employees live, and these communities are our priorities.”

Lebec-based Tejon Ranch Co., another major developer of distribution and industrial space in Kern, with housing proposed within the same commerce center as millions of square feet of warehouse space, sees a “night and day” difference between Kern’s and the Inland Empire’s buildouts, in terms of density and number of projects, spokesman Barry Zoeller said by email.

Under a voluntary agreement with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, Zoeller noted, the company has funded regionwide measures estimated to make up for all emissions generated by its Tejon Ranch Commerce Center at full buildout. He emphasized the project’s economic benefits.

“Given the number of jobs and economic opportunity it creates, the logistics industry is an important component of Kern’s economic development and diversification strategy,” he wrote.

Activists in the Inland Empire are less certain. Ana Gonzalez, executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, which co-sponsored a report attached to last month’s letter to the governor, said the group’s health concerns would apply to development of distribution centers in Kern.

“It’s the same folks, same mentality,” she said. “They want to get away with the minimal regulations.”

“They’re putting these developments in low-income communities that don’t even benefit from e-commerce,” she said. “At this point we just need state intervention.”

The report CCAEJ put out with the help of the Sierra Club and the Robert Redford Conservancy called the Inland Empire’s warehousing growth a critical environmental justice issue that, because of diesel engines’ heavy emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, has led to inequities in cardiac, respiratory and reproductive problems in vulnerable communities.

More than 300 warehouses stand 1,000 feet or less from 139 schools in the Inland Empire, the report said, adding that 367,584 people live within a quarter mile of a warehouse, about 60 percent of them Hispanic. Besides calling for a one- to two-year moratorium on development while protective new policies can be crafted, the report recommended raising project approval standards, codifying best industry practices and doing more to enforce existing regulations.

A deputy air pollution control officer with the valley air district said all new development, not just warehouses, introduces new emissions from construction, operation and associated truck traffic. The decision on whether to allow them, he noted, comes down to local agencies’ mandated considerations of environmental impacts.

The district generally suggests local governments condition their approval on investments in zero- or near-zero emission vehicles and other equipment, limitations on engine idling, provision of electrical power for refrigeration trucks and planting of vegetative barriers.

“They don’t adopt every measure we put forth,” Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer Morgan Lambert said.

Based on its experience with communities and land-use agencies in warehouse-heavy places like southwest Fresno, he said, the district suggests government work closely with community members “in trying to help address what those impacts may be in those different communities.”

Assuming distribution work can be done responsibly, warehousing and logistics work is seen as a crucial activity that can make sense in Kern.

Industry wages are seen as low, but applications continue to outpace job openings, Bakersfield industrial property broker Wayne Kress said in an email. He noted warehousing uses far less water than ag, and generates greater property tax revenue, at a time when massive fallowing of farmland in the southern valley is expected in the years ahead.

The free flow of goods by road, rail and air must be a primary consideration, said Executive Director Ahron Hakimi of the Kern Council of Governments, which has responsibility for managing congestion throughout the county.

Kern COG has been working with Wonderful and others, including regional and state agencies, on a plan to smooth the flow of cargo through the county for the benefit of local residents and businesses alike.

Rerouting trucks away from communities is part of the idea, along with greater use of intrastate rail, greater automation of goods movement and development of a large intermodal facility to increase efficiencies. No changes are expected soon, and there remains the question of how to fund changes under consideration.

A spokeswoman for the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, a locally active environmental justice group that The Wonderful Co. said it has been working with on equity and sustainability matters in Shafter, said Friday the group could not provide a comment for this story.

Wonderful says it doesn’t plan to move forward in a major way with its development plans in Shafter until it has resolved issues like how to provide renewable energy including truck fuel at the site.

As a company that has made deep investments in different communities in Kern, primarily Lost Hills and Delano, Wonderful says it wants its work in Shafter to help build a community that sustains itself.

“We have a tremendous opportunity,” Guinn said, “to help a lot of people help themselves with better jobs and prospects for their families.”

Healthgrades announces Kaweah Health is among America’s 100 Best Hospitals

Today, Healthgrades announced America’s 100 Best Hospitals for 2023, naming Kaweah Health Medical Center one of the 20 hospitals in California and the only hospital in the San Joaquin Valley from Kern to Madera counties to earn the distinction, according to new research released by the company. This achievement puts Kaweah Health in the top 2 percent of hospitals nationwide for overall clinical performance across the most common conditions and procedures.

“This is the first time in our history that we’ve been named one of the best 100, and while what we do is not for the awards or praise, it’s wonderful to see our team get recognized by a third party for the great work they do,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health’s Chief Executive Officer. “I know we’re not perfect; it’s an endless journey to get better and better. But our team of physicians, advance practice providers, our staff – they are incredible, amazing, talented, dedicated people who are committed to this community. As a local public non-profit organization, we exist solely to care for our community, something that we are very passionate about.”

To determine America’s 100 Best Hospitals for 2023, Healthgrades evaluated patient mortality and complication rates for 31 of the most common conditions and procedures at nearly 4,500 hospitals across the country to identify the top-performing hospitals. Healthgrades’ analysis revealed significant variation between America’s Best 100 Hospitals and hospitals that did not receive the distinction. In fact, if all hospitals performed similarly to America’s 100 Best, over 158,000 lives could have been saved each year.* Additionally, patients treated at one of the 2023 America’s 100 Best Hospitals have, on average, a 25.5% lower risk of dying than if they were treated at a hospital that did not receive the America’s 100 Best Hospitals award.*

According to the 2023 Healthgrades report to the Nation, Kaweah Health Medical Center is the Central Valley’s most recognized hospital for 2023. Among the many awards received, Kaweah Health is one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery, and is the only hospital in California to be named among the top 5% of hospitals nationwide for Cardiac Surgery for the last six years in a row (2018-2023).

“We’re proud to recognize Kaweah Health as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for 2023,” said Brad MD, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Data Science at Healthgrades. “As one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals, Kaweah Health consistently delivers better-than-expected outcomes for the patients in their community and is setting a high national standard for clinical excellence.”

This distinction is one in a series of recognitions that Kaweah Health has received in recent months that speaks to quality of care. In November 2022, Kaweah Health received its third consecutive ‘A’ grade from the Leapfrog Group, putting it among the safest hospitals in America, according to the independent national watchdog organization.

Visit for an in-depth look at Kaweah Health’s performance and profile to explore the highest quality care in California’s Central Valley today. Consumers can also visit for more information on how Healthgrades measures hospital quality, and access the complete methodology here. A patient-friendly overview of the complete methodology is available here.

Merced farming family recognized for tenacity, keeping local ranch going for 125 years

Frenchy Meissonnier doesn’t get around his Merced ranch as easily as he used to when he was younger.
At 72 years old, there are some aches and pains that come with being a lifelong farmer. Meissonnier is a third-generation rice farmer. His father was a rice farmer, as well as his grandfather before that. “It’s taken a toll on me,” Meissonnier said. “I’m pretty worn out.”

However, Meissonnier says he wouldn’t want it any other way. The Meissonnier Ranch has been in the family since Victor Joseph Meissonnier bought 40 acres located at 2684 Dickenson Ferry Road in Merced in 1897. Meissonnier now owns 350 acres and rents another 170 acres. He beams with pride that someday soon his son Zachery, 40, will take over the ranch. “I enjoy everything about farming,” said Meissonnier. “I enjoy the mechanic work. I like fixing things. I love watching the crop grow. It starts as a seedling; you watch it grow and then you harvest it. There are a lot of challenges, but I still love it.”

Meissonnier will harvest about 85,000 pounds of rice this September from his farm. The Meissonnier Ranch was recently recognized by the California State Fair for 125 years as a continuous farming operation. Frenchy now lives at the ranch with his wife Debi, 69, who he’s been married to for nearly 30 years.

Meissonnier says it hasn’t been easy at times, but he takes pride that the family has been able to keep the ranch going from over a century and that he’ll be able to hand over the reins to his son eventually. “The hardest part was when there was no money in it to have the tenacity to reach down and pull yourself up by the boot straps,” he said. “You just had to bow your neck and say ‘I’m going to do this and it’s going to work out.’ It means everything that I can pass it on to Zach.”

Zachery says it means a lot to be able to take over the farm one day. “It’s been in the family for many years,” he said. “It’s been in our family through world wars, the Great Depression and many ups and downs. It’s good to know we’ve come this far.”

Meissonnier’s grandfather came through Ellis Island. Victor Joseph Meissonnier quickly found out life was tough as a French immigrant. He had a tough time finding a job working on the docks in New York.
Fortunately, he spoke five languages and told people he was Italian. He saved enough money to move and join his brother in California.

In 1897 Victor Joseph Meissonnier for 50 cents per acre bought the 40 acres in Merced that would become Meissonnier Ranch. He started farming rice around 1910. “I’m very proud my grandfather was the first person to grow rice commercially in Merced,” Frenchy said. “He saw some people were growing small patches of rice, but he was the first to farm it commercially.”

Eventually the ranch was passed down to Frenchy’s father, who was also named Victor, and later Frenchy’s father asked him to partner with him in 1973 at the age of 23. “Rice farming is no different than any other type of farming,” Meissonnier said. “You work seven days a week most weeks. You may take a few days off in the winter. It you’re not watching it can turn on you fast. There are a lot of disease and insects. You can’t take a day off during the growing season. Then you have to harvest it before the rain comes.”

Meissonnier said his father almost always had a second job while operating the ranch. He often drove a truck. Frenchy would also work a second job in construction or work side jobs. On the rare occasions when Meissonnier is away from the farm, he likes to travel up the coast, travel with Debi, and he’s always enjoyed riding motorcycles. “My dad has always been a hard worker,” Zachery said. “He puts 150% in everything he does at work and in his home life. He’s someone who is not to be crossed with but when you get to know him underneath all that is one of the biggest, kind-hearted, softy biker-farmers you’d ever meet who is always willing to help someone out.”

Meissonnier says he still wears many hats for the ranch, including working the books, and as a mechanic and farming the crops. He’s been teaching Zachery the tricks of the trade. Life wasn’t always easy. “In the early 80s there was 23 rice farmers in Merced,” Meissonnier said. “My dad and I bought 150 acres after rice had a high price of $12 (per 100 pounds) in 1979. The next year the cost of rice went below the cost of production at $6.50. Other rice farmers went broke. We did everything ourselves. We worked around the clock.”

He says even when times were tough he never dared sell the ranch. “When I was younger I remember my grandmother telling me ‘Never sell the land, David. Never sell the land,'” he said. “I’ve always had that ghost in my ear. I had to keep the legacy going.” After being in debt most his life, Meissonnier said things started to turn in 2000 and by 2007 he was totally out of debt. “I bought 40 acres next to me and I paid in cash,” he said. “I refuse to go back into debt again.”

Meissonnier says keeping the ranch in the family means everything to him. That’s why it was special to be recognized at the State Fair for 125 years of running a continuous farming operation. The Merced County Farm Bureau was being honored on the same stage for its 100 year anniversary — meaning the Meissonnier Ranch has been around longer than the Merced County Farm Bureau. “It was fantastic because they weren’t just recognizing me but also the two generations before me who had the tenacity to stick with it,” Meissonnier said. Meissonnier still loves the grind. “It’s a daily challenge,” he said. “Jobs will take me all day when in my younger days it would take me an hour. There’s some aches and pains, but I take pride that I can still do it.”


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.”

Lemoore aviators featured in new ‘Top Gun’ movie

The “Top Gun” fever continues at the box office, as the iconic sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” is breaking records past the speed of sound. The movie holds even more significance as aviators stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore actually flew in the movie, helping create those captivating flight scenes playing out on the big screen. When asked if this is the greatest aviation film ever made, NAS Lemoore Commander Kristen Hansen, call sign “Dragon,” says, she’s biased, but yes. “It’s probably the best footage anybody has ever been able to take in a cockpit,” Hansen said. “The cameras they had in the cockpits were just so cool.” Years ago, when Top Gun: Maverick was in the early stages, Hansen was stationed at another base in Fallon, Nevada. Aviators often fly between the two bases.

Hansen was asked to help with scenes of the new Top Gun movie, and so were many pilots at NAS Lemoore. “Pretty much went down the flight line,” Hansen said. “And if we had somebody that was home and available and interested, they asked if they were interested in flying in the movie, and we obviously did not have trouble finding volunteers.”

Hansen also confirms the incredible flight scenes were real, not animated. “Very, very little CGI,” Hansen said. “Pretty much everything was done in an aircraft.” “The CGI that was used was in small instances when it would’ve been unsafe to have the aircraft that close, and in those cases, they filmed the maneuvers and just CGI’d them closer, or they might have added an aircraft.” “If you’re seeing it, an aircraft most likely actually did it.” Hansen’s part was about one week, flying with actress Monica Barbaro and actor Lewis Pullman–who plays a Weapons Systems Officer, or “wizzo,” from Lemoore.

The actors also received training beforehand, including water training simulating being ejected from a jet. “Obviously they’re portraying characters, but the people themselves, pretty much for all the characters you would have in a normal ready room, and they were just so laidback,” Hansen said. The production utilized parts of the base, getting shots along actual training routes from Lemoore to Nevada. All the shots captured in the F-18 Superhornet. “If you’re on the West Coast and you’re flying F-18s,” Hansen said, “You’re in Lemoore.” The real work these aviators do to stay ready for any enemy at any time brought to life on screen.

Hansen believes Paramount really did capture the lives of those who serve the United States. “To be able to showcase the aviation community like that, and hopefully for everyone in the Central Valley to realize that, that’s what’s happening in our backyard all the time, and every single day there’s flights and missions out coming of Lemoore, California,” Hansen said. “That’s really at the heart of it all.”

States with the biggest agriculture industry

Most Americans don’t recognize just how much the agriculture industry affects their everyday lives. The connection is not solely confined to your grocery store, either—industries affected by the agricultural sector include food/beverage service, forestry, and textiles, just to name a few. Less than 2% of the American workforce was directly employed in agriculture in the year 2000, a drastic transition from 40% a century earlier. To improve consumer’s relationships with this industry, organizations like Future Farmers of America and 4-H help to bridge the gap between consumers and farmers and fight agricultural illiteracy from youth.

Stacker ranked each U.S. state by the size of its agriculture industry. To come up with the list, we analyzed USDA data including 2018 state agricultural overview reports and commodity values from 2012 ranked by the total value of agricultural products sold. We also took a look at the economic and environmental impact of the agriculture industry for each state, based on data from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, as well as how the industry affects residents and what aspects about that state make it ideal for agriculture.

States like Alaska and Hawaii generated a wide range of unique agricultural commodities due to climates that differ from the rest of the country. States such as Texas and Wisconsin produced crops and livestock like cotton, cattle, and dairy cows known worldwide for their quality. Of course, there are always the corn belt states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas that provide a majority of the country’s corn supply thanks to level landscapes and nitrogen-rich soil. Keep reading to see where your state’s agriculture industry ranks.