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NATION’S LARGEST SOLAR FARM PLANNED SOUTH OF PORTERVILLE

Built on 3,800 acres scattered near the town of Ducor, the Rexford Solar Farm will be rated at 700 megawatts in addition to 700 megawatts of energy storage.

Published On February 17, 2020 – 1:49 PM
Written By John Lindt

The nation’s largest solar farm is in the works south of Porterville. The big facility is planned on farmland with a water deficit, perhaps a glimpse of the future for some marginal ag land here.

Tulare County released a Notice of Preparation (NOP) Feb. 14 announcing the big renewable energy project.

Built on 3,800 acres scattered near the town of Ducor, the Rexford Solar Farm will be rated at 700 megawatts in addition to 700 megawatts of energy storage. The solar arrays would eclipse the state’s biggest solar farm in San Luis Obispo — the 550-megawatt Topaz facility built in 2011.

The solar farm is being proposed by a partnership that includes privately held 8minute Energy of Los Angeles, which owns several large utility-scale solar farms in the West, including four in Kern County. The company has a portfolio of more than 14,000 megawatts, including the 260-megawatt Mount Signal Solar Farm in Imperial County. Tom Buttgenbach and Martin Hermann founded it in 2009.

Last year the company signed a 25-year agreement to provide electricity to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Rexford Solar Farm’s electricity would be transmitted to the Southern California Edison (SCE) Vestal Substation via an up to 230 kilovolt (kV) overhead and/or underground gen-tie line. The proposed transmission and/or collector lines would extend along existing roadway rights-of-way from various portions of the project site (where substations are located), ultimately connecting to the Southern California Edison Vestal Substation. The transmission and/or collector lines would be located along portions of Road 232, Avenue 56, Avenue 64, Road 224, Road 240, Avenue 32, Richgrove Drive, and Highway 65, or could possibly utilize additional nearby routings. The total length of the transmission and/or collector lines would be approximately 13 miles in length.

A scoping meeting is scheduled for March 5 at 1:30 P.M. in the main conference room of the Tulare County Resource Management Agency at 5961 S. Mooney Blvd. in Visalia.

The historic Vestal substation near the project site connects the Big Creek hydro project in the Sierra above Fresno through the San Joaquin Valley to Los Angeles.

A full environmental impact review for the Rexford project is expected. The county notice says the project is located in a generally rural area surrounded by existing agricultural uses including dry-land grain, irrigated crops, grazing lands and scattered residential buildings. The placement of solar panels and associated structures would alter the existing character of the site and vicinity, says the report.

Southern Tulare County already has a water deficit problem and may be further affected by the state groundwater program. The area is expected to see idled land and issues with land subsidence.

The majority of the project site is bisected by Highway 65. Residents and travelers on adjacent roads would observe alterations to the existing landscape. The entire project site is designated as Farmland of Local Importance by the California Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program. The majority of the project site is under Williamson Act contracts. The EIR will provide an assessment of potential project related impacts to agricultural resources.

Tulare County has another nearby solar project pending. Tulare Solar Center is rated at 80 megawatts proposed on 1,144 acres. The site is on currently undeveloped farmland situated in south central Tulare County. Approximately 572 acres (or approximately 50%) of the proposed Project site is located east of Highway 65 and south of Avenue 24, with the remainder located west of the 65 and north of Avenue 12.

Another solar project in the area got a hearing last year. The 70-megawatt Deer Creek Solar project would be located on the north side of Avenue 96 (Terra Bella Avenue), bounded on the west by Road 224 and on the east by Road 232, approximately 0.5 miles west of Terra Bella.

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Fresno County is rated No. 1 in the nation in agricultural production

 

It’s begun. That shaking is the sight and sound of almond harvest in the Sacramento Valley. Almonds are one of the state’s biggest crops. This video is from Jim Morris at a Yolo County farm. 

The agricultural championship has returned to Fresno County.

For the first time since 2013, Fresno County leads the nation in agricultural production.

Producing nearly $7.9 billion worth of agriculture in 2018, Fresno County edged out Kern County ($7.47 billion) for the coveted crown.

“According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, ‘Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California.’ ” Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen said in a statement. “Fresno County lies in the heart of this production and proudly serves as the food capital of the nation.”

Tulare County rated third at $7.21 billion in agricultural production.

Farmers and ranchers in Fresno County produced a record value of $7.88 billion in crops and commodities last year, up from $7.02 billion in 2017.

Almond production led the charge, producing a value of $1.18 billion.

Grapes were Fresno County’s second most valuable commodity at $1.11 billion, followed by pistachios ($862 million), poultry ($596 million) and garlic ($435 million).

Melissa Cregan, the Fresno County agricultural commission, said the county’s strength stems from the diversity in crop production. The county had more than 300 different crops in 2018, of which 76 grossed at least $1 million.

“Although individual commodities may experience difficulties from year-to-year,” Cregan wrote in her letter to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, “Fresno County continues to supply the highest quality of food and fiber nationwide and abroad to more than 95 countries around the world.”

Next-generation wireless revolution takes root in Bakersfield

Samsung's new foldable phone: Cheaper, but still a novelty
TM Roh, President and Head of Mobile Communications Business, holds a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G phone while speaking at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco on Feb. 11.

The next revolution in mobile technology has arrived in Bakersfield — but it’s probably not time to celebrate just yet.

Earlier this month, AT&T announced its local launch of the highly anticipated wireless coverage known as 5G, joining T-Mobile, which introduced a similar service in early December. (Sprint and Verizon have not yet made the service available in Bakersfield.)

The launches mean people with the right kind of cellphone and the right mobile service plan should be able to receive data faster — perhaps 20 percent faster than they did under the previous best technology, known as 4G LTE.

But that’s still a far cry from the giant technological leap 5G is expected to offer users within the next few years, when download speeds are supposed to be 100 times faster than most of today’s cellphones.

“It’ll still be a while before it actually rolls out to the public like 5G is intended to,” said Steven Saldana, technician and sales manager at JJ Wireless at 2200 Panama Lane. “I think it’s still way too early to be talking about 5G.”

As wireless technology specialists see it, both local 5G service launches represent a modest first step that will be followed by many incremental improvements. Even the earliest of adopters might not see major improvement for two to three years.

They say that ultimately, a movie that now takes 10 minutes to download on a phone will be ready in seconds. Video calls will be of the highest visual quality with no delays. Texting and most file transfers will be essentially instantaneous.

But that’s just the start. People in the business say 5G will change entire industries, including farming. It will pave the way for self-driving vehicles, give students immersive educational experiences and allow surgeons to perform procedures on patients in other states.

The same technology is also expected to extend cellphones’ battery life.

There are significant limitations, however, and they won’t be resolved soon.

5G-ready cellphones are expected to cost hundreds of dollars more than most phones do now. Wireless service carriers still have major investments to make in infrastructure across the country.

The very best service, utilizing a part of the electromagnetic spectrum cellphones today don’t use, will work only in very close proximity to cellular antennas. And even then, incoming data signals won’t be able to pass through walls, meaning there will have to be antennas almost everywhere.

All of this puts a premium on investment by wireless carriers, because the first to offer the speediest service with the largest capacity for moving data will win customers.

In that regard, last week’s news that a judge has approved T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion acquisition of rival Sprint could be significant. The merger is expected to combine the two companies’ budgets for investing in 5G infrastructure.

AT&T, for its part, said the “5G Evolution” coverage it launched Feb. 3 in Bakersfield works as much as two times faster than standard 4G LTE. It expects to deliver upgraded 5G service nationwide later this year, followed by super-fast but limited-reach “5G+” in coming years.

Eventually, cellphones are expected to use all the different 5G variations, with speeds and data-handling capacity fluctuating according to the kind of signal available locally.

In the meantime, the name 5G will be used to impress consumers without offering the tremendous benefits that lie ahead, asserted J. Sharpe Smith, a wireless industry journalist based in Des Moines, Iowa.

“They’re all saying that they have 5G, but really, the impact of it so far is very early adopter stage,” said.

As its name suggests, 5G is the fifth generation of cellular communications technology. Like previous generations, its rollout will not immediately make earlier technology — 3G and 4G — moot, and in fact, those two wireless standards will continue to operate in cities where 5G capability exists.

There’s an expectation that 5G will spark new cellphone apps, even launch whole new companies and new ways of doing business.

One example with local relevance is aerial imagery for growers of specialty crops like almonds and table grapes.

Oakland-based Ceres Imaging expects to use 5G technology to give its customers mobile coverage in fields where they can’t get it now — at the highest resolution imaginable.

“While our technology pinpoints issues at a plant level, our customers often struggle with reception while walking fields,” Marketing Vice President John Bourne said by email.

Regarding consumer use, 5G enthusiasts talk about the technology offering a new user experience.

Anand Gandhi, a 25-year telecomm veteran working as chief technology officer at New Jersey-based wireless innovation company Squan, described 5G in terms of running out of milk.

In a 5G world, he said by email, your refrigerator will make sure you receive an alert that you’re out of milk just as you’re leaving work. Your vehicle will take you to a grocery store, which will have received the milk order ahead of time.

“This will all be handled without any action on your part,” Gandhi said.

He estimated that about 10 percent of U.S. cellphones will be upgraded to 5G by the end of this year. By 2023, he said, about 55 percent are expected to be 5G-ready.

Atlanta-based wireless telecomm analyst Jeff Kagan said it’s not going to be particularly important which wireless carrier a consumer chooses because all of them will eventually offer the service. If you like your service provider, he said, “stick with it.”

He also said the changes ahead will be breathtaking.

Community Gets Preview of New $25M Oakhurst College Center

Architect Paul Halajian (l) and Oakhurst College’s Darin Soukup display a scale model of the new main building on the $25 million campus (photo by Leonard Andrenacci)

OAKHURST —  The community got a preview of the new $25 million Oakhurst Community College Center at a public forum this week in Oakhurst.

Darin Soukup, Oakhurst Community College Center director, and project architect Paul Halajian were both on hand at the meeting to provide updates and answer questions from community members about progress on the project.

Halajian also brought a scale model of the proposed 21,450-square-foot building to show around at the meeting. “This is what it’s going to look like, he said. “But it’s still a bit of a work in progress.”

The current design features seven classrooms —  one for biology/chemistry lab plus a “prep” room, one art studio/classroom, one computer lab classroom and four general education classrooms that will also allow for 2-way simultaneous broadcast of courses from other locations in the District.

“This will allow us to utilize hybrid and distance learning so students do not have to travel to other locations as often to complete degrees,” Soukup said.

While the groundbreaking remains more than a year out, the new campus will be built in about a year or 18 months.

“Construction could begin as early as late 2021 but depends on a number of factors,” Soukup added. “Construction may finish late 2022 or early 2023.”

“The District’s commitment to elevating the quality of higher education in the Oakhurst community is exciting and the site chosen for the new absolutely campus is spectacular,” Halajian said. “As architects, we are excited to be a part of creating a new campus from the ground up that will inspire students in the mountain communities of Madera County for this and future generations.”

Tuesday’s forum took place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Oakhurst Community Center.

About 30 or 40 people attended, including current professors and other employees from Oakhurst Community College.

The new Oakhurst College Center campus was approved by SCCCD trustees after voters OK’d Bond Measure C in 2016.

The facility, to be built on a 30-acre parcel overlooking a large pond, will replace the current Oakhurst Community College Center adjacent to the Oakhurst Library.

A Brave New World: Latest in agriculture at Expo in Tulare

TULARE — Traditionally the Farmer’s Almanac predicts rainy weather during early to middle February said Lt. Boatman from the Tulare Police Department, who was helping on the first day of the 2020 World Ag Expo on Tuesday, at the International Agri-Center in Tulare.

But it was a clear, bright, and beautifully sunny day, and at least 30,000 people or more were expected to attend the show. And over the three days, Tuesday, today and Thursday, Feb. 13, there could be anywhere from 90,000 to more than  100,000 people attending from all over the world.

When the gates opened and hundreds of people were lined up to enter, at about 9:30 the Star Spangled Banner was sung, and people respectfully sang with their hands over their hearts.

Boatman said the Porterville Police Department, and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department were also helping the Tulare Police Department, as well as the Explorers from all over Tulare County.

On the trams that run throughout the Ag Expo, people were getting rides to wherever they needed to go, and all of the Expo volunteers were incredibly helpful and accommodating.

There are more than 266 acres of fascinating new agricultural equipment, such as huge feed mixers, farm trucks, with huge pavilions full of exhibitors throughout the show.

Looking at giant mixers for cattle feed, they look like huge blenders that mix alfalfa, grain, corn silage, minerals and vitamins, or whatever the nutritional needs to keep cows healthy, explained a rancher.

Hopping on one of the trams, Bill Horst, who’s been to all of the ag shows since they started in 1968, or 51 years ago, said there’s lots to see, lots to do, and the food was great. He recommended the Peach Cobbler.

There was a large pavilion where hemp products were being displayed, and an informational talk was being given, explaining oilseed, fiber, and extract type comes from hemp, and hemp fiber has been made to make clothing for years.

For medical use there’s “cannabis” which is used by adults.

A vendor for special bags to keep hemp fresh said there’s a big wave of growers who are getting back into growing hemp because of the huge variety of uses, besides CBD oil, which can be used medicinally.

Besides exhibits of merchandise, and vendors at the show there are also all kinds of seminars at the expo such as a discussion about “Rural Broadband and it’s importance to Agriculture,” to presentations about international trade, and modern professionally installed irrigation, and much more.

Southern California Edison had an exhibit where they had an electric heavy duty farm truck, an electric forklift, and an electric Nissan car. Brian Thoburn said Edison’s theme was to showcase its vision to put a million medium to heavy duty electric vehicles on the road in California, to help the state meet its energy goals for clean energy. He said another important thing was Edison’s efforts to represent its $356 million investment to help their customers to make greater use of electric transportation, including agricultural, business, and residential customers.

Thoburn also said there was a safety demonstration, and Edison Electric Safety Board would give a presentation and explain safety issues of electricity outside the house, around electrical poles.

Later, sitting down having lunch, Ismael Aguirre, from Jordan Central Equipment, in Blythe, Calif., which is near Arizona, said he was at the show to see all the new tractors and farm equipment. “There are people here from everywhere, and it’s wonderful to see all the new equipment that comes out, and meet the people who build them. I love the technical side of the equipment.

Walking down one of the streets, Amanda Yan, from Hergesheimer’s Donuts in Porterville said the Porterville Exchange Club and students had a booth.

Thirteen students from Monache Hospitality Pathways helped out, in two shifts, with the Porterville Exchange Club Concession Stand selling hamburgers, fries, drinks, and specialty deep fried oreos, and more during the day.

Aira Baez, Carla Montejano, Michelle Garcia, Annie Otero, Madison Morris, and Kristina Williamson all said they learned how to prepare food efficiently, quickly, and under pressure, but they had fun and the food was “yummy.”

Johnny Orduno, Yolanda Bocanegra, Betty Luna, and Pete Lara, and others were all helping to run the stand, and Bocanegra, said it was her third time at the expo, and she’s a member of the Exchange Club. ”I love doing this and being a part of the group. They are wonderful people who serve the community of Porterville. And I love working with the students from all our Porterville schools.”

“The reason the Exchange Club does the food concession stand,” said Luna, Club President, “is to fundraise for child abuse prevention, support our veterans, and give scholarships to Harmony Magnet Academy and Strathmore High School.

Luna said to the students as they left, “You’ve done a fabulous job.”

Merced College offers fast track certificate for careers in nutrition

A local valley school is offering students a fast track to start their career in nutrition.

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) — A local valley school is offering students a fast track to start their careers in nutrition.

Digging into a career in nutrition isn’t always easy, but Merced College is serving up a solution for its students. In Fall 2020, the foods and nutrition program will offer several certificates as a fast track option.

“It allows students to have the time to get right through it and working and going,” said former student Evan Fimbrez.

In just two semesters, students can earn a ServSafe Manager Certificate – the first step to a wide variety of jobs in the nutrition field.

“They can be dietary managers in long term care, in skilled nursing, hospitals, school foodservice, prisons, lots of job opportunities,” said Food and Nutrition professor Michelle Pecchenino.

Evan Fimbrez took advantage of the courses during his time at Merced College and is now a director of food and nutrition services at a local nursing and rehab facility.

“I was already interested in the field, and it was a great jump start, foot in the door to getting those field experiences, getting those contacts, and working out my career,” Fimbrez said.

He says one of the best experiences as a student was the 150 hours he spent working in the field.

“I was going out into the community, and being able to work in actual kitchens and get hands on experience was awesome,” he said.

The curriculum will offer courses in food safety, food service management, basic cooking, and foodservice production. If you’re interested in learning more about the program visit their website.

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

NEW DEVELOPMENT COMING TO CLOVIS PARCEL

Sticks are up at a development project at Herndon and Peach avenues in Clovis by the Marihart family, owners of 13 Prime Steak and PC Solutions. Photo by Falina Marihart

Published On February 5, 2020 – 12:37 PM
Written By Donald A. Promnitz

A long-vacant parcel of land in Clovis will be getting several new leases on life over the next three years, with construction officially under way on a pair of buildings.

The land — stretching 2.3 acres on the corner of Herndon and Peach avenues in Clovis — was purchased in parcels by Marihart Properties between 2017 and 2019. According to John, James and Falina Marihart, the family business started construction on phase one in November, which they expect to complete in the summer. Once completed, 4,000 square feet of the 10,000-square-foot building will house the new headquarters for PC Solutions. PC Solutions was founded by John D. Marihart.

“We’ve come so far since literally starting the company in my garage to now employing the best IT professionals and actively scaling our products for growth,” John D. Marihart said.

The remaining part of the building will be available for lease.

Phase two, meanwhile, is expected to begin sometime between six months and a year from now. Plans call for its completion in 2021. That building will be 16,000 square feet. James Marihart will manage the day-to-day operations.

“As we’ve all seen, Clovis is booming and the future is bright for businesses in the city,” said James Marihart, managing partner. “As each one of our buildings go up, more and more jobs will be created.”

Phase three is expected for 2023, according to the Mariharts. It will house a restaurant similar to popular steakhouse 13 Prime Steak, which is also owned by John D. Marihart.

“It’ll serve the community in that area — breakfast, lunch and dinner, possibly,” Falina Marihart said. “So it’s still going to be quality food and everything, just a different price.”

Target Constructors, Inc., out of Madera, Ca., won the bid to complete the construction on the projects.

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JAPANESE FIRM EXPLORES FRESNO AREA FOR US HEADQUARTERS

Clay Gilpin

Published On February 3, 2020 – 11:41 AM
Written By Frank Lopez

It’s not news to people in the Central Valley that we have one of the richest agricultural regions in the country and the world.

The fertile soils of the San Joaquin Valley have been garnering attention from businesses in other countries — most recently, a well-established company from Japan.

Manda Fermentation Co., Ltd., founded in 1987, is a health food manufacturer in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, whose flagship product, “Manda Koso,” along with other fermented foods, has been spurring interest in the United States.

“We have seen an increase in fermentation interest,” said Tomoyuki Iwanami, chief creative officer for Manda Fermentation USA, the American branch of the company that is in its early stages. “One of the major turning points recently is the Kombucha (a fermented tea) craze. Fermented tea leaves are selling in San Francisco, natto fermented soybeans are gaining traction. Overall fermentation, the word itself, is spreading and there’s more awareness and consciousness towards it.”

“Manda Koso” is made of 53 botanical raw materials that are then fermented and matured for more than three years and three months. The process is free of preservatives and no water and heat is applied.

Fruits, grains, edible algae, and vegetables that the company uses from farms they either contract with or own are utilized so that no parts are wasted and consumers can get the full range of nutrients, such as the skin and leaves.

Along with selling “Manda Koso” and other health foods, Manda Fermentation also sells “Manda Amino Alpha” a fertilizer that uses “Manda Koso” for plants, and “Fermic,” a pet supplement that also uses the fermented product. It is also used for food for livestock.

Through a series of introductions with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., the heads at Manda were made aware of the San Joaquin Valley being one of the biggest agricultural centers of the world, and it made sense for them to start their U.S. operations in the area.

Last year, Manda Fermentation got connected to the Fresno State Department of Viticulture and Enology to conduct research on a fermented plant concentrate that could enhance grapevine growth.

The company will be using resources from Fresno State and other colleges in the California, such as UC Davis, for more research on the product and how it could be used in our area.

Clay Gilpin, market development manager for Manda Fermentation USA, who worked as the business support manager for the Fresno County EDC from 2015 until the end of 2019, is working for Manda facilitating connections in the states, as well as doing marketing and sales.

“Fresno State is one of the most practical farming universities, “Gilpin said. “Having that resource in the backyard is important. We are working with them now on projects — one is a study on the effects of ‘Manda Harvest’ on wine grapes. We are going to work with the business school on doing some market research. We feel like we are poised for a good launch.”

Manda Fermentation USA is still going through research and development before they decide on opening up a facility in the area, but it is something that they are keen to continue pursuing. Along with a facility, the company is also planning to survey properties that might be suitable for their operations, and also to build relationships with local farmers they could one day work with.

Manda Fermenation USA will have a booth at the World Ag Expo in Tulare Feb. 11-13 and at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim in March to get the word out on their product, and hopefully establish relationships with other companies in the U.S.

“The short term goals right now are getting to the World Ag Expo, then the Natural Products Expo, then hopefully start selling ‘Manda Koso’ in the U.S.,” said Yasuhito Nakajima, MBA, CEO and president of Manda Fermentation Co. Ltd. “We want the name to be out there, that’s for the short term.”

Fresno State Campus News
February 3, 2020
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