Press Room

TranPak Ground Breaking at Freedom Industrial Park in Madera

Madera, CA – A ground breaking ceremony will be held Monday, July 1st at 11 AM as the City
of Madera welcomes TranPak to the Freedom Industrial Park. Currently located in Fresno,
TranPak will be constructing a new state-of-the-art facility. The new 65,000 square foot building
will allow them to streamline their operations and provide more space to meet the growing
demand for their products.

Span Construction and Engineering has been selected to do the entire design/build of the facility.
Span was founded in 1980 and maintains their home office in Madera. Completion date will be
in March of 2020 and TranPak will be fully operational by April 2020.

The Company was founded in 1994 by Marty Ueland. While Mr. Ueland remains the President
of the Company, his son Christian is the General Manager and runs the day to day operation.
TranPak manufactures its own proprietary pallets and has the largest, most versatile inventory of
plastic pallets, bins, liquid containers in North America for Just-in-Time delivery.

The public is invited to attend the groundbreaking at the site located at the Southeast corner of
Victory Lane and Independence Drive.

Gallo is buying 34 wine and spirit brands you’ve heard of — for $1.7 billion

 
The front entrance of the new Dry Creek office building at the E&J Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif., on Tuesday, August 30, 2016.

The front entrance of the new Dry Creek office building at the E&J Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif., on Tuesday, August 30, 2016.  AALFARO@MODBEE.COM

E.&J. Gallo Winery has 34 new wine and spirit brands to its name after reaching a $1.7 billion deal to purchase properties from its rival Constellation Brands.

The Modesto-based company reached an agreement with Constellation, best known for producing beers like Corona, Modelo and Pacifico, to acquire several well-known wine brands, including Northern California labels Clos du Bois, Black Box and Ravenswood, in addition to sparking wine and spirits.

Included in the purchase were wine brands: Clos du Bois, Black Box, Ravenswood, Estancia, Mark West, Franciscan, Toasted Head, Hogue Cellars, Wild Horse, Blackstone, Vendange, Rex Goliath, Diseno, Hidden Crush, Taylor Country Cellars, Blufeld, Manischewitz, Wild Irish Rose, Arbor Mist, Milestone, La Terre, Taylor Dessert, Paul Masson Dessert, Capri, Cribari Dessert, Primal Roots, Taylor NY Table, Paul Masson Table,

Also included in the deal were sparkling wine brands Cook’s and J. Roget and Paul Masson brandy. The deal adds about 700 employees to Gallo’s existing 6,500 worldwide, and six winemaking facilities. They are Mission Bell in Madera, Turner Road Vintners in Lodi, Clos du Bois in Geyserville and Wild Horse in Templeton, along with Washington state’s Hogue Cellars and New York’s Canandaigua.

Most of the newly acquired wines are around the $11 price point. New York-based Constellation retains all of its beer brands, SVEDKA Vodka and several other wine labels including the high-profile Robert Mondavi brand family. Late last year, Constellation made a $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth, a Canadian-based cannabis company.

Earlier this year, Wine Business Monthly named Gallo No. 1 and Constellation No. 3 for the U.S.’s largest wineries by volume. The Wine Group out of Livermore (with a large production facility near Ripon) came in at No. 2.

Gallo has long sold wine at a range of prices and should do well with the labels it is buying from Constellation, said Cyril Penn, editor of Wine Business Monthly, speaking by phone from his Sonoma office.

“I would not expect them to dumb down these brands,” he said. “If anything, it will rejuvenate them.”

Gallo has succeeded through “vertical integration” that has grape growing, bottle making, distribution and other functions under one ownership, Penn said.

Brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo founded the winery in Modesto in 1933. It concentrated on lower-priced wines from the San Joaquin Valley for most of its history but branched in the 1980s into premium vineyards near the California coast. Gallo later added Washington state and also imports wine and spirits from several countries.

The growth has come through Gallo’s own startup wineries and through purchases of established brands. Usually, the acquisition costs are disclosed because the companies are not publicly traded. Constellation is.

For Gallo, the addition brings some well-known brands into its portfolio.

“We are committed to remaining a family-owned company focused on growing the wine industry.,” said Gallo CEO Joseph E. Gallo in a press release about the acquisition. “While we continue to invest in our premium and luxury businesses, we see a tremendous opportunity with this acquisition to bring new consumers into the wine category. We will continue to provide our customers and consumers with quality products at every price point.”

The Gallo portfolio has over 100 brands, including wine labels Gallo Family Vineyards, Barefoot Cellars, Dark Horse, Apothic and Ecco Domani. Its spirits roster includes New Amsterdam vodka and gin, E&J brandy and Familia Camarena tequila.

E.&J. Gallo Winery of Modesto has rebranded and relaunched its Thunderbird wine. The old version, known for its citrus flavor and high alcohol, has been discontinued. The new Thunderbird comes in chardonnay, red blend and cabernet sauvignon.

The deal is one of the larger acquisitions for a Central Valley-based company in recent history. In 2002, Save Mart Supermarkets purchased Food 4 Less for $165 million. In 2007, Modesto-founded 5.11 Tactical owner Dan Costa sold the majority stake in his company for $305 million.

“This is a large deal; it’s a large acquisition for the Central Valley,” said Jeff Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. “This makes Gallo a bigger player in the wine industry here, where they are already large and dominant.”

https://www.modbee.com/news/business/article228800324.html


New $25M Oakhurst Community College ‘On Schedule,’ Could Open In 2022

OAKHURST – The new $25M Oakhurst Community College Center is quickly taking shape. Late Friday, college officials released an updated project timeline that could have students in classrooms as early as fall of 2022.

According to Darin Soukup, director at the Oakhurst Community College Center, construction is now slated to start late next year — and be completed in the spring of 2022.

“At this point, we’re actually pretty close to being right on schedule,” Soukup said Friday.

Pond on new Oakhurst College site – photo Gina Clugston

The new campus will be located behind the True Value Hardware building and the Mountain Christian Center adjacent to the Madera County Sheriff’s Department substation. The 30-acre development site overlooks a large pond and is framed by sweeping mountain views.

The site was selected, in part, for its access to — and visibility from — Highway 49.

“We had very thorough site selection analysis,” Soukup said. “[The development site] is still part of a wildland urban interface, however the location was determined to be the most defensible in the case of a wildfire.”

New Oakhurst Community College design – photo George Lurie

To be built in phases as the area’s population grows, Soukup confirmed the new center will operate initially from one 28,000-square-foot building. The campus master plan, according to project architect Paul Halajian, will allow for expansion as enrollment and future funding dictate.

Halajian, principal at Paul Halajian Architects, the Clovis-based firm designing the new center, said this week that his team is “just starting the schematic design phase” of the new campus.

“Right now, we’re determining what the first building will look like and how elements like the parking lot, landscaping and common areas will be laid out,” Halajian said. “We don’t want to go in and level the area. We want to work with the natural terrain. This is not going to look like an urban campus.”

By late spring, college officials plan to host another community meeting to unveil final design renderings.

Kim Patten of the LA-based design firm Steinberg Hart – photo courtesy Paul Halajian

Halajian’s firm was selected from a pool of pre-qualified applicants and is teaming with Los Angeles-based architectural group Steinberg Hart on the project. While Halajian is the “architect of record,” Steinberg Hart’s Kim Patten is the lead design architect.

Halajian said he partnered with Steinberg Hart because the firm has “more experience master planning a large campus project.”

Halajian has been the campus architect for Fresno State since 2005 and has designed a number of buildings on campus, including the new Physical Therapy and Intercollegiate Athletics Center. The Valley native also designed the new monument at Fresno State commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

When asked at community meetings held in Oakhurst last month and late last year what they would like the new center to look like, Halajian said participants expressed the greatest interest in a “contemporary style.”

New Oakhurst Community College parcel map

“That was the aesthetic that seemed to resonate most with both faculty and community members,” he said. “It’s not going to look like a log cabin. But [the new center] is going to celebrate nature and natural materials.”

The facility will be designed to include community spaces and offer senior activities. “We want it to be an economic engine for eastern Madera County and place for the community to be proud of,” the architect said.

Oakhurst Community College Center is part of the State Center Community College District (SCCCD), a network of area community colleges that includes Fresno City, Madera, Clovis Community and Reedley Colleges.

The new Oakhurst Center was approved by SCCCD trustees after voters OK’d Bond Measure C in 2016. The facility will replace the current Oakhurst Community College Center, which is adjacent to the Oakhurst Library.

Current Oakhurst college campus – photo Gina Clugston

About 1,050 students are enrolled in classes this academic year at the downtown campus, which uses portable buildings as classrooms.

“The majority of our students are part-time and tend to be older,” Soukup said. “These students, known as re-entry students, are coming back to school needing to be re-skilled because they are desiring a new career path.”

SCCCD officials paid $1.8 million for the new campus site, leaving $23.2 million to spend on design and construction. Halajian said $17.5M is earmarked for construction costs and $5.5M for permits, fees, testing, furniture and equipment.

When completely up and running, the new center is expected to double student enrollment.

For Halajian, the chance to design such an important project is sure to be a career highlight.

“We are really excited to be part of this,” he said. “The building site is absolutely stunning. It’s the kind of site architects just die to work on.”

https://sierranewsonline.com/new-25m-oakhurst-community-college-on-schedule-could-open-in-2022/

HILTI GETS BIGGER HOME IN VISALIA FOR FUTURE GROWTH

Visalia Mayor Bob Link, in the white shirt, shakes hands with Hilti, Inc. employees following a ribbon cutting at the company’s new, larger distribution center at the Visalia Industrial Park. Photo contributedåç

Published On June 20, 2019 – 3:12 PM
Written By David Castellon

If you aren’t in the business of constructing homes, commercial buildings or other structures, chances are you never heard of Hilti.

But in Visalia, the Luxemburg-based maker of professional-grade power tools and other construction products has made a name for itself over the past 24 years as a business and employer in the Visalia Industrial Park.

Now, the company is expanding its presence, having leased a newly-built, 166,000-square-foot building to house its West Coast distribution and Value-Added Service centers.

On Wednesday, the new facility at 4630 N. American St. was opened to local business people and dignitaries for a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by executives from Hilti, Inc. — the company’s Oklahoma-base U.S. division — and Visalia Mayor Bob Link.

The Visalia distribution center is the largest of 12 Hilti distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada, covering the West Coast and Pacific Rim.

Among the tasks performed at the Value-Added Service Center are assembling prefabricated parts installed with new walls to prevent the spread of fires and equipment to mount lights and heavy equipment to ceilings.

The European company has eight factories around the world, making tools mostly for commercial-builders, but some Hilti products can be found at Home Depot hardware stores and at about 100 Hilti stores in the U.S.

Hilti vacated two smaller buildings in other parts of the Visalia Industrial Park — which combined offered about 65,000 square feet of space — to move into the new building. Staff, work spaces, inventory and supplies occupy only about two thirds of it, said Patrick O’Connell, vice president of logistics for Hiliti, Inc.

He said sales for the company are on the rise, particularly in the U.S., so moving to a larger building is intended to prepare for growth.

Currently Hilti employs 30 people in Visalia, both at the new building and at a separate tool repair center also in the Industrial Park. While there are no immediate plans to expand that staff, there now more than 50,000 square feet available to make room for added hires and equipment in the future if the growth continues, as expected, O’Connell said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/hilti-gets-bigger-home-in-visalia-for-future-growth/

Bitwise’s planned expansion into Bakersfield seen as taking the city to ‘the next level’

 

 

John Cox / The Californian

Anticipation was in the air as dozens of Bakersfield business and political leaders jammed into a small room on the second floor of the Padre Hotel Wednesday morning for what was sure to be a big announcement.

Once things got going, levity took over. The two presenters, one of whom stood in front of the crowd while the other spoke via video link from Fresno, made little jokes and took friendly jabs at each other.

The day’s big news, as The Californian reported Wednesday morning, was that downtown Fresno-based tech hub Bitwise Industries had raised $27 million that, among other things, would help pay for the company’s expansion into Bakersfield.

Bitwise’s plans call for coding classes, shared office space and other forms of local investment. Initial operations are expected to begin by early next year, followed by the purchase of a permanent space downtown for Bitwise’s new second home.

There were questions from the audience, naturally. Someone asked why the company chose to expand into Bakersfield as opposed to some other “underdog” city.

“The answer is, we were terrified of what you’d do if we didn’t” come to Bakersfield, quipped Jake Soberal, Bitwise’s CEO and co-founder.

There’s truth in his jest: The company has talked for about two years with local leaders anxious to bring Bitwise’s brand of tech culture to downtown Bakersfield. By now, anything less would have been a big disappointment. Instead, people in attendance saw the news as cause for celebration.

“My initial feeling is this is literally game-changing for the community,” said Kern County’s administrative officer over workforce development, Teresa Hitchcock.

She linked workforce development, a key focus for Bitwise, with local economic development. Her prediction was that local companies will quickly recognize the value of having a training entity come to Kern, and that other individuals will see the value later as they begin to benefit from expanded opportunities.

Bakersfield businessman Morgan Clayton saw substantial promise in Wednesday’s announcement.

“Bitwise has validated we have a starting point,” he said. “We are now connecting to the millennials,” he added, referring to 20- and 30-something-year-olds who have largely embraced digital innovation and its associated business opportunities.

Local economic development chief Richard Chapman, president and CEO of Kern Economic Development Corp., traced the news to a tour he and others involved with KEDC took to Fresno in 2017. That’s when Bakersfield leaders learned how tech hubs can spark new businesses and good-paying careers.

He expressed hope Bitwise will attract other tech companies, which will, in turn, offer internships for local youth with computer programming talent.

David Anderson was optimistic for different reasons. The Bakersfield financial advisor and managing partner at Moneywise Guys noted that downtown has added positive amenities in recent years that could be attractive to tech companies and the kind of people they employ.

Bringing Bitwise into the mix, he said, “takes downtown to the next level.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/bitwise-s-planned-expansion-into-bakersfield-seen-as-taking-the/article_40b0f672-92e1-11e9-9911-cb60bd736cf3.html

Preparing the Way for a Central Valley Renaissance

by Stuart VanHorn

June 6, 2019


Farm of the Future (Photo: WHCCD)

Recently, Governor Newsom announced his new “Regions Rise Together” initiative. Launched in partnership with California Forward and the California Economic Summit, this initiative is in recognition of the fact that the substantial economic and job growth that the state has experienced since 2010 has been concentrated in the state’s coastal areas and has largely passed over the state’s inland regions.

In fact, by the Governor’s own calculations, residents of California’s inland regions have seen their per capita income drop dramatically while 70% of job growth in the state during this same period has occurred in the state’s coastal regions. With the Regions Rise Together initiative, Governor Newsom intends on turning his “California for All” slogan into a strategy to design a comprehensive economic plan that will ensure sustainable and inclusive growth across the state and benefit all parts of California.

The announcement of the Governor’s new initiative is welcome news for those of us who live and work in the Central Valley. West Hills Community College District covers nearly 3,400 square miles of Central California, primarily in the western portions of Fresno and Kings Counties. The District serves over 8,000 students with two accredited colleges: West Hills College Coalinga and West Hills College Lemoore. In addition to its main campus location in Coalinga, West Hills College Coalinga also operates the North District Center in Firebaugh, and the Farm of the Future located at the north end of Coalinga. We are very proud of our students and our graduates and we have an 87-year history of serving students in efficient, innovative practices such as Prior Learning Assessment that promote student success and completion.

We also know well that our students face more social, economic, and structural obstacles to student success. Many of the students that we serve are first generation college students that must balance work and family obligations with their educational goals. They are hindered by the region’s higher unemployment rates, fewer jobs, and one of the highest poverty rates in the country. While Fresno County is California’s single most productive agricultural region and one of the most productive in the world (providing more than half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States), Census data show that it is also the poorest metro area in the state and the second most impoverished region in the nation.

This data also show that Valley areas (Fresno, Modesto and Bakersfield-Delano) are among the top five U.S. regions with the highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line (one of every four). In Fresno County, median income fell from $46,479 to $42,807 during the last Census period while unemployment rose to 16 percent. In addition, food stamp use climbed to nearly 18 percent.

Beyond these economic statistics, our students also suffer from the lack of broadband internet in much of rural Fresno County. This broadband inequity makes distance education impossible, severely limits tele-health and tele-medicine opportunities, and significantly hinders educational attainment and economic growth in the region. The inequity of broadband access is a key reason why poor communities stay poor, chronic illness manifests, and social mobility is stunted. This fact is borne out by statistics. Our district has 12% of the state’s population but only 6% of the state’s bachelor’s degree holders. In addition, only 11% of the population ages 25 and above possess an associate’s degree or higher. This compares to 41% statewide.

West Hills is not intimated by these statistics. We are working every day to close these achievement gaps and increase educational attainment in our region. We offer Career Technical Educational programs that build a skilled workforce for our regional employers. We assist our students financially through our President’s Scholars program and by offering free Open Educational Resources (OER) textbooks. And we are helping eliminate the broadband inequity and ensure that reliable, high-speed broadband service is available in our region by ensuring that broadband infrastructure is built throughout the West Side and by raising funds to augment the monthly internet subscription fees of our student-led households.

The Governor’s initiative promises to build on existing locally driven initiatives in our state’s diverse regions while also leveraging the investments and policy priorities of the state. West Hills looks forward to representing our students’ and our communities’ needs in this conversation and working toward a future in which educational attainment soars, infrastructure supports growth, skills gaps are eliminated, and the quality of life increases for all residents in Fresno County.

https://caeconomy.org/reporting/entry/preparing-the-way-for-a-central-valley-renaissance

How many jobs might Hard Rock casino bring to Kern County?

It might take five years, it might take a decade, but Kern County is apparently getting a Hard Rock Cafe-branded hotel and casino.

At least that’s the hope of the Tejon Tribe of Kern County, which announced an agreement this week with Hard Rock International, the global hospitality company known for its rock ‘n’ roll-themed restaurants. Hard Rock has agreed to develop and manage a $600 million, 400-room hotel and casino that the tribe has proposed on farmland just west of Highway 99, half an hour south of Bakersfield.

Sandra Hernandez, a council member with the Tejon Tribe, joined The Californian’s Robert Price Wednesday on his weekly “One on One” noon webcast to talk about the Tejon Tribe and its vision for the hotel-casino.

Among the topics they discussed:

• The tribe is considering the possibility of building administrative offices, a health-care facility and housing near the hotel-casino, which will occupy 52 acres of the 306-acre parcel the tribe owns near Mettler.

• The hotel-casino would employ 2,000 people — more than twice the number of known Tejon tribal members. There’s no such thing as a hiring advantage for tribal members, however. “We’re an equal opportunity employer,” Hernandez said.

• Hernandez said she expects to maintain good relations and mutual support among the management of the Tejon’s Hard Rock casino and those of the Eagle Mountain and Tachi Palace gaming casinos in adjacent Tulare and Kings counties, respectively.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/how-many-jobs-might-hard-rock-casino-bring-to-kern/article_f756f168-87c6-11e9-a7da-37ca7ab1260e.html

Plans to create medical school in Valley takes shape

Friday, June 7, 2019 6:29PM

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Creating a medical school in the Valley brought dozens of leaders to UCSF Fresno.

“The San Joaquin Valley has roughly 150 doctors per 100,000 residents. In contrast, San Francisco has 411 per 100,000 residents. You can see the dramatic difference that exists. This is one of the most underserved medical regions in the country,” said Assemblymember Adam Gray.

Gray helped lead the first San Joaquin Valley Coalition for Medical Education. He’s currently working on AB 1606 to help fund the school by not allowing people to write off their gambling losses on their taxes and using that fund.

The school would likely need $500 million to get started.

At Friday’s meeting leaders spoke about combining facilities and programs to jumpstart the school.

UCSF Fresno and UC Merced would combine forces to educate students.

“Getting a medical school started is extremely complicated there are a lot of regulatory barriers, political challenges and funding challenges. We’re excited to be partnering with UCSF, the Fresno office on a path to solving those problems,” said Gregg Camfield, UC Merced Executive Vice Chancellor.

UC Merced is working to create programs for the next generation.

“You name it, every kind of health professional is needed in the Valley and we’re committed to helping to produce that workforce,” said Camfield.

More than 300 doctors are currently training in the Valley through UCSF Fresno.

“Helping to develop students from the region who come from in those underrepresented areas in medicine will allow us to put people out into the community to provide care” Michael Peterson, UCSF Fresno Associate Dean.

Keeping the community healthy with a strong workforce of health professionals

“Lawmakers, University officials and leaders hope to the ideas from this meeting and to build more partnerships and find more funding. The San Joaquin Calley Coalition for medical education plans to meet later this year.

Manpower: Strong employment outlook predict for Q 3

Central Valley Business Times

June 11, 2019

  • 21 percent of employers nationwide plan to add employees
  • Two Central Valley metros are topping that

In the third quarter of 2019, 27 percent of U.S. employers expect to increase payrolls, 3 percent anticipate a decrease and 69 percent expect no change.

Once the data is adjusted to allow for seasonal variation, the national Net Employment Outlook for the U.S. stands at +21 percent, the strongest reported in 13 years.

Hiring intentions are 2 percentage points stronger when compared with the previous quarter, and improve by 3 percentage points in comparison with this time one year ago.

Employers in 28 percent of businesses surveyed in the West expect workforce gains during the coming quarter, while 3 percent anticipate a decrease and 68 percent expect no change. The resulting Net Employment Outlook stands at +25 percent. Once the data is adjusted to allow for seasonal variation, hiring plans for the region are the strongest reported in more than 11 years. Employers report a slight quarter-over-quarter improvement in the Outlook, and a moderate increase when compared with this time one year ago.

In three of the West’s industry sectors, employers report moderately stronger hiring intentions for Quarter 3 2019 when compared with the previous quarter: information, professional & business services and transportation & utilities. Slightly stronger hiring prospects are reported in four of the region’s industry sectors: financial activities, government, leisure & hospitality and nondurable goods manufacturing.

Education & health services sector employers in the West report a relatively stable labor market in a comparison with the second quarter of 2019, Manpower says.

During the next three months, job seekers in the West’s durable goods manufacturing and other services sectors can expect moderately weaker hiring activity when compared with the previous quarter, according to employers. Employers in the region’s construction and wholesale & retail trade sectors report slightly weaker hiring plans.

Manpower says 31 percent of employers in the Sacramento metropolitan area expect a net employment increase in the third quarter, one of the strongest performances in the nation.

More than one out of four (26 percent) of employers in the Stockton metro expect a net employment increase in Q 3, on par with Boston, Columbus, Omaha, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C.

Twenty percent of Bakersfield employers told Manpower that they plan to increase their workforces in the third quarter and 19 percent of those in the Fresno MSA said the same.

Employers in the Midwest report the strongest hiring prospects in 18 years, with Manpower’s outlook improving by 2 percentage points in comparison with Quarter 2 2019.

In the Northeast, hiring plans are 1 percentage point stronger when compared with the previous quarter and the outlook reported in the South is unchanged. The strongest regional hiring pace is expected in the West, where the outlook is +22 percent. Midwest employers report an  outlook of +21 percent, and outlooks stand at +20 percent and +19 percent in the South and the Northeast, respectively.

In a comparison with the second quarter of 2019, hiring prospects are slightly stronger in the West and the Midwest, says Manpower. Northeast employers report relatively stable hiring plans, and the outlook for the South is unchanged. When compared with this time one year ago, employers in the West report moderately stronger hiring intentions. Slight year-over-year improvements are reported in the Midwest and the Northeast, while employers in the South report relatively stable hiring plans.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/1756cf8e-fe1a-41d2-aafe-b7693a621acd.pdf

Hotel construction is booming as developers bet on Bakersfield’s economy

Expectations that Bakersfield’s economy is on the rise have created the city’s biggest hotel boom since the Great Recession.

Half a dozen hotels with a combined 658 rooms are proposed or under construction, all on the city’s west side and many of them extended-stay properties geared toward business travelers. Some of the incoming brands are entirely new to the city.

Hoteliers say the rush of private investment is being driven in part by other local projects, such as the Amazon distribution center under construction near Meadows Field Airport. There’s also a sense the city’s relatively low housing and labor costs have created an incentive to build while the savings last.

IMPROVING CONDITIONS

Conditions in Bakersfield’s hotel market have improved significantly during the past decade — the city’s occupancy rate is up more than six points, average room rates have increased 25 percent and Bakersfield’s hotel room inventory is up 12 percent, according to hotel data tracker STR.

Those numbers alone don’t explain the construction seen in the market lately, said Francois Khoury, general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Bakersfield, which is finishing up more than $15 million of renovations that began in April of last year.

He said a bigger factor in the recent investment is anticipation that oil prices are on the way up and that now’s the time to prepare for good times ahead in the local economy.

“Everybody wants to be ready,” he said.

AFFORDABILITY AND GROWTH

Jenny Hlaudy, general manager of The Courtyard by Marriott, sees affordability as bringing investor attention to the Bakersfield market. Land is inexpensive locally, she said, and so are housing costs.

At the same time, the area’s overall growth, combined with large construction projects going on around town, are helping not just hotels but also local restaurants and stores. She said the net effect is a desirable place to build new lodging.

“It’s huge,” she said of the hotel boom. “We haven’t had that much growth, as far as hotels, in many years. … It’s going to truly impact this city.”

One of the new hotels coming online later this year is a 113-room Home2 Suites by Hilton west of Coffee Road near Brimhall Road. Director of Sales Denise Connor said a large housing-residential-retail project proposed nearby, the Bakersfield Commons proposal, is probably one reason why the hotel is being built.

“With the Bakersfield Commons coming in, that is going to bring in potential new growth,” Connor said. She added that new roads projects and the Amazon center are further positive signs that could lead to business for the hotel.

SHARED BENEFITS

David Lyman, manager of Visit Bakersfield, the city’s convention and visitors bureau credited an increase in local events for recent hotel investments, as well as travelers stopping overnight on their way to national parks to the north and south.

Whatever the reason, Bakersfield’s hotel tax — a 12 percent addition to the cost of a room — is now bringing in more money than it ever has. This fiscal year alone the tax is projected to raise $9.7 million for the city’s general fund.

Add that to the money visitors spend on meals and supplies, he said, and the local hospitality industry becomes an economic force that is growing fast.

“These projects create and retain jobs, not just the people who work in the hotels and restaurants,” he said. “We all like to keep that money flowing locally.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/hotel-construction-is-booming-as-developers-bet-on-bakersfield-s/article_b7730026-87e1-11e9-8101-2fe0197fa532.html