BY THADDEUS MILLER
FEBRUARY 07, 2019 03:29 PM,
• Official opening comes Friday
• A 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art medical center
Valley Children’s Hospital officially opens its new Modesto medical center on Pelandale Road on Friday. The Specialty Care Center, a 40,000-square-foot, state-of-theart medical center, is expected to bring more pediatric specialists closer to families who need care. Valley Children’s will continue to provide expert care in several service lines, including pediatric cardiology, pediatric neurology, pediatric gastroenterology and pediatric orthopaedics.
Pelandale Specialty Care Center will help Valley Children’s meet the needs of families in Stanislaus County and nearby communities, and keep them closer to home and to their own primary care physicians.
Last year, providers at Valley Children’s former outpatient center saw more than 12,000 visits. That number is expected to grow
to more than 27,500 within the next decade.
Foster Farms on Thursday announced a multimillion-dollar capital investment project to support an expansion and upgrade of the company’s poultry processing facility in Livingston.
The company that supports 2,032 jobs in Merced County will expand the facility’s product lines and add jobs, according to a news release. The announcement comes as the company is possibly in discussions to be sold to meat industry giant Tyson Foods, CNBC reported Tuesday.
Foster Farms spokesperson Ira Brill would not say exactly how much the company planned to spend on the expansion, noting the firm is privately held.
“Foster Farms is expanding its Livingston operation to allow for future growth and diversification of our customer mix on the West Coast,” CEO Laura Flanagan said in the news release.
The expansion project is underway, the company said in the release, with completion scheduled for September. State and local leaders worked with the company to offer a $6.5 million economic incentive package.
“This is a perfect example of government working with local business to help keep jobs in the Valley and grow our economic base,” Merced County Board of Supervisors Chairman Lloyd Pareira said in the release.
Foster Farms employs about 12,000 people at poultry plants in Livingston, Fresno, Turlock, Porterville, the Pacific Northwest and the South. Max and Verda Foster started the operation in 1939 and it remains under family ownership.
“The city of Livingston prides itself for having such a dynamic and community-oriented company and we are pleased to see Foster Farms continue to grow and prosper here,” Livingston Mayor Gurpal Samra said in the release.
Neither Tyson nor Foster Farms has confirmed the discussions of a possible sale, referring to the report as a rumor. The cable business network based its report on unnamed sources, who put the price at roughly $2 billion. The two sides disagree on the exact amount, and the deal could fall through, CNBC said.
Foster Farms is one of the largest employers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Its hundreds of products include whole chickens and turkeys, fresh poultry parts, ground meat, deli slices, marinated products, frozen patties and corn dogs.
The company has annual revenue of $2.4 billion, according to Forbes.
The Modesto Bee contributed to this report.
Paul Gross is vehement in stating his opinion on magic.
“There is no such thing as real magic. I can’t make you disappear for real,” the 63-year-old said.
That may seem an odd stance, considering the Fresno resident founded and owns Hocus Pocus, among the most prolific online vendors of magic tricks, props and paraphernalia in the country, selling everything from trick playing cards and how-to books to the various swords, escape boxes, restraints and other items used by amateurs to professional magicians.
What Gross doesn’t believe in is actual magic — love potions, spells, totems, the occult, etc. — that some people mistakenly believe his business can supply.
Gross’ stock in trade is illusion, in which the seemingly impossible is done through sleight of hand, mirrors, diversions and hidden compartments that all are explainable, if you know how the tricks work.
Gross believes in that sort of magic strongly, so much so that he has dedicated most of his life to it, first as an amateur turned professional illusionist by his teen years, then going into in the retail side of magic, initially opening a magic shop in Fresno in his late teens and a couple of decades later converting to a mail-order business and then to an online vendor of supplies, props and memorabilia with sales last year totaling about $3 million.
“If it wasn’t for the Internet, this business wouldn’t be where it is,” Gross said, noting that the vast number of YouTube postings and other online sources teaching people how to perform illusions has magnified the public’s interest in buying magic supplies and to see magicians perform, both of which benefit Hocus Pocus.
“We’re in a 30,000-square-foot building whereas we used to be in 500 square feet.”
Even the larger space in a nondescript Fresno industrial building barely has room to contain all of the items for sale.
The back portion of the building is a veritable museum to illusions, because besides selling new supplies and books, magicians, their families and their heirs often sell their old props and supplies to Hocus Pocus or consign the business to sell the items for them.
Need a guillotine or a basket to impale with swords after an assistant shimmies inside of a mock mummy’s tomb or a strait jacket or a big wooden box and saw for sawing a lady in half? Hocus Pocus might have one or more any given week and be able to pack and ship it to you.
Hollywood is a frequent customer, with studios often buying thousands of dollars worth of props and other magic-related goods to use in movies and television shows.
Gross’ magician clientele has included Mark Wilson — a staple of 1960s and 1970s television — Criss Angel and Shin Lim, last year’s America’s Got Talent television show winner. Hocus Pocus also sells the magic supplies Lim endorses.
“We’re open every day of the year, 24 hours a day, and we never close, and we have such a wide base. Thirty five, almost 40 percent of our [orders] go overseas,” Gross said. “We probably have an active member base of maybe 60,000 online members.”
A Fresno native, Gross began his love of magic at the age of 8, when his grandparents took him to a movie theater — back when they put on vaudeville-style acts before matinees — and he saw his first magician.
“He did three tricks, which I still remember to this day — got my grandfather up to help him [with one], and that was it. I got bit,” Gross recalled.
Back then, there were no magic shops in Fresno, so Gross ordered tricks and instructions on performing illusions via mail-order catalogues and later via trips with his parents to a San Francesco magic shop.
“I bought every single trick until I opened my own business,” said Gross, who got skilled enough that between the ages of 12 and 18 he worked paid gigs as a magician between school and working at the furniture store his father ran.
After high school, his father co-signed a $2,500 loan for him to open a magic, gag and novelty shop in 1973 in southeast Fresno, and while it did well, Gross closed it 15 years later because he had to take over running the furniture store his father had opened after he fell ill to cancer.
Nine months later, Gross said, he reopened the magic shop in Clovis, “and we ended up getting out of the furniture business, because it wasn’t my cup of tea,” after four years of running it.
In the years that followed, Gross changed locations and his business model, converting from a walk-in magic and novelty store to adding a side venture as a mail-order magic supplier in the late 1990s.
But that wasn’t a particularly fruitful change, as business by mail order went so badly that “we might have gone out of business after that first year.”
But that changed in 1999 after a friend introduced Gross to his first home computer, and he decided that online ordering and offering an online catalog bigger than what any other magic and novelty suppliers were offering on the Web was the way to go.
Business since then has been good, so much so that Gross stopped operating a walk-in store to sell just online.
“We probably have a thousand people a day visit our site. When we had a retail store, we probably didn’t have that many people visit us in a year.”
But Gross never forgot his brick-and-mortar roots. With no other magic shops in the Fresno area, people often walk into Hocus Pocus looking for tricks or advice from Gross or his son and partner, Max Gross, 26, who has never performed magic professionally but is skilled in many of the tricks the family business sells.
The two also spend a lot of time speaking with customers calling in for advice, “But they don’t always listen to me,” the senior Gross noted.
“It could be a thousand-dollar item, but what good is it going to do me to sell that to you if you’re going to get it and you’re not going to use it?”
Visalia has the most affordable homes in the state, according to a new study.
HomeArea.com looked at 142 California cities with a population of 60,000 or more, calculating what’s called the “median multiple” for each one.
The median multiple is the ratio of the median house price by the median gross household income.
Visalia’s median multiple is a 3.6, putting it at the top of the list for most affordable homes in the state.
Other Valley cities in the top 10 include Clovis and Bakersfield.
At the very bottom? The City of Newport Beach, whose median multiple is nearly three times higher than Visalia’s.
For Immediate Release
MEDIA CONTACT: Mark Hendrickson, Chairman of Internal Affairs, CCVEDC Board of Directors
February 1, 2019
MERCED - California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation (CCVEDC) announced today it will receive a $50,000 contract with the Central California Workforce Collaborative (CCWC) in a collaborative effort to boost effectiveness in serving employers.
“This is a historic partnership between workforce and economic development in an area that encompasses a quarter of California.” stated Lee Ann Eager, CCVEDC Chairman of External Affairs. “The Central Valley is a rapidly expanding region for business, and workforce is the number one factor in business success and longevity.”
The business engagement program will use existing economic development networks to deliver information on workforce programs, tax incentives and other resources that can maximize the competitiveness of businesses and the productivity of the local workforce and increase regional economic prosperity.
“The CCVEDC is proud to work hand in hand with our workforce development partners,” stated Mark Hendrickson, Chairman of Internal Affairs. “This contract not only solidifies our collaborative relationship but also strengthens our position as California’s leading location for economic development opportunities.”
CCWC is comprised of eight (-8-) local Workforce Development Boards representing ten (-10-) counties of Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare.
CCVEDC is a not-for-profit Corporation supported by the 8-county region in the Central Valley, PG&E and Central Calif/Central Mother Lode Regional Consortium (CRC) Partnership, whose mission is to attract and retain jobs and investment in the Central San Joaquin Valley counties of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern. For more information, www.centralcalifornia.org.
Blue Diamond Growers broke ground Tuesday on an expansion of its west Turlock plant to meet the demand for almond milk.
The addition will add 25 to 28 jobs to the 150 already at the Washington Road plant, said Travis Hill, start-up manager for the Sacramento-based cooperative.
The 52,000-square-foot annex also will employ a yet-to-be-determined number of people making a new product that is still under wraps, said Mark Jansen, president and chief executive officer.
“It’s about generating growth for Blue Diamond, for our growers and the communities that we live in,” he said.
The plant opened in 2013 with about 200,000 square feet of space for further processing of plain almonds received at Blue Diamond plants in Salida and Sacramento. The Turlock plant slices, dices and blanches nuts and makes almond flour, popular with people avoiding gluten.
The expansion, scheduled for completion in April 2020, will make the butter-like base for the Almond Breeze milk. Water is added at other locations around the world to reduce shipping costs.
Blue Diamond will continue to make almond milk base in Sacramento, where it also produces its wide array of flavored snack nuts and gluten-free crackers.
The 108-year-old company is the largest player in a California almond industry that accounts for about 80 percent of global volume. It employs a total of about 1,500 people in Sacramento, Salida and Turlock.
The expansion announced Tuesday is part of a three-phase plan that ultimately will bring the Turlock plant to about 500,000 square feet. The timeline and products to be added have not been revealed.
Blue Diamond also is not disclosing the cost of the expansion. The building will be erected by the Austin Co., based in Cleveland. Foth, a company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, will install the manufacturing equipment.
The ground-breaking ceremony featured Turlock officials and other guests. Mayor Amy Bublak noted that the original building won the Plant of the Year Award from Food Engineering magazine for its food-safety measures and other features.
“We truly are growing our reputation as the Silicon Valley of food production,” she said.
Blue Diamond used the occasion to present a $20,000 donation to the California FFA Foundation. It was accepted by the Turlock High School chapter of the agriculture education group.
At a cost of more than $24.4 million, you might expect that in the Valley’s most expensive real estate transaction of 2018, you’d get to keep the building.
Not that there’s any building up yet on the 20-acre parcel slated to become Phase 2 of the Marketplace at El Paseo shopping center south of West Herndon Avenue and North Riverside Drive.
Currently there’s Phase 1 of the shopping center, which includes Target, Old Navy, Tillys and Burlington stores. Just to the south, off Riverside Drive, is a former fig grove, now barren, with workers driving heavy equipment along the dirt over the past three weeks to level out the land ahead of planned construction of an expansion to the Marketplace.
Owners of the property have lease agreements to locate businesses on the new site that include Hobby Lobby; Carter’s, Inc.; Wayback Burgers; Que Pasa Mexican Café and the expansion of an undisclosed, locally-based Japanese restaurant.
And talks are underway to also lease space there as an added site for a local brew pub and restaurant, the name of which also hasn’t been disclosed.
But the biggest lease agreement in Phase 2 is with Regal Entertainment Group for a planned 49,950-square-foot, 12-screen movie theater on the site.
But Regal will not build the new Regal Cinema theater. Instead, the developers of the shopping center — Manhattan Beach-based Gryphon Capital and Rich Development Enterprises, LLC, out of Santa Ana — have agreed to build the theater and lease it to Regal for the $24.4 million-plus lease price.
Chris Shane, managing partner for Gryphon, declined to disclose the length of the lease, confirming only that it would last multiple years. Efforts to contact officials representing Regal weren’t successful.
While not an actual property purchase, the lease agreement, which was finalized in July 2018, still was the highest-valued commercial real estate transaction last year in Fresno, Kings, Tulare or Madera counties, according to The Business Journal’s annual list of the Largest Commercial Real Estate Transactions.
Besides being in a prime retail space off busy Highway 99, “It’s a build-to-suit with a very large national tenant. The building is very expensive, therefore the rent adjusts accordingly, Then you have a multi-year lease, so you have a high transaction number,” Lewis Smith, a leasing agent for Fresno’s Retail California, said of the deal he helped broker between the developers and Regal Entertainment, which operate the Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theatres and Edwards chains, which already have four theaters in Fresno and Clovis.
“This has been about three years in the works,” he said of the negotiations.
Work to develop the Marketplace on 75 acres began in 2006 and continued through and after the Great Recession.
Northwest Fresno near the Highway 99 and Herndon intersection was chosen as the site in part because of the growing number of homes being developed in the area, its increasingly upscale demographics and its proximity to the freeway, Shane said.
He added that much of Fresno’s growth is occurring in the northwest part of the city, also making it a good spot to locate the Marketplace.
And along 99 there is no shopping center like it for at least 30 miles north or south, he said, adding that over the five years Phase 1 businesses have been open, operators have reported customers coming from farther distances to shop there.
Plans are to expand Phase 1 beyond its current 400,000 square feet of retail and restaurant spaces, with efforts underway to find tenants for three small retail or restaurant spaces to be built in current parking lot spaces off Herndon Avenue and Riverside Drive.
As for Phase 2, the plan is to build 200,000 square feet of leasable space there, and early on it was decided a movie theater would be included in the mix, said Shane, whose company developed the Trading Post shopping center in Clovis, which includes a Sprouts Farmers Market, Skechers USA and a Ross store.
“Even though we are from Southern California, we know the [Fresno] market very well,” he said. “Northwest Fresno is underserved in terms of quality movie theaters.
“We felt that the competition from the [retail] markets that access 99 didn’t have theaters, either.”
The theater, expected to open in the first quarter of 2020, would allow families to do things at the Marketplace beyond shopping and eating, Shane said.
“We’re going to have a nice mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment that people will drive to from pretty far away,” Smith added.
As for the theater, “It’s just going to be the most state-of-the-art, nicest, most upscale theater in the Valley,” said Smith, citing that it will include gourmet food options, wine and beer sales, reclining seats and high-quality sound and visual systems, and it will be one of at least five prototypes for a new style of movie theaters Regal is developing.
Coming in at No. 2 in the real estate transactions list was the $11.6 million sale of a 191,341 square-foot commercial building at 200 W. Pontiac Way in Clovis.
Rounding out the top 3 was the sale of an 82,000 square-foot commercial building at 1177 Fulton St. in Fresno for $10.68 million.
This is the former Guarantee Savings building purchased by State Center Community College District.
You may not have noticed, but Amazon quietly expanded its footprint in Fresno late last year.
The new facility has likely created upwards of 400 new jobs, as evidenced by a permit filed with the city.
Over the summer, Amazon laid a big, obvious footprint in the city by opening its newly built 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center in the south end of the city, off Central and Orange avenues.
By its sheer size and the large Amazon logo on its front, the building is hard not to notice. But what you many not have noticed is a not nearly as big, nondescript building amid other industrial buildings less than three miles to the north, in the 2300 block of Cedar Avenue.
In front hangs a small banner sign, and you might have to stop your car and get out to read “DELIVERY STATION” across the top with the Amazon logo beneath it.
This delivery station is one of more than 75 the online giant operates around the country, most fairly close to their fulfillment centers as one of the many methods used to get goods ordered from those centers to homes and businesses.
Many of those goods are shipped via the U.S. Postal service and large private shippers, FedEx and UPS among them.
But for shipments that are close to the fulfillment centers where the packages originated or are routed through them, Amazon often trucks those goods to the company’s delivery stations. From that point, they’re sorted and distributed for delivery, either by local package-delivery businesses contracted to do the work or by private drivers contracted to work through Amazon Flex, an Uber-like service in which people schedule their spare time to make $18-$25 an hour delivering Amazon packages using their own cars.
A company official said hundreds of full-time, part-time and contracted people work at the leased Fresno facility but declined to offer a specific number.
The building is owned by Anheuser-Busch wholesaler Donaghy Sales. A development permit filed by Donaghy indicates a 373-stall parking lot is being built at the site.
MilliporeSigma, a Massachusetts-based life science company, provides research, process, and applied solutions to scientists and engineers.
A spokesperson confirmed the company plans to lease a soon-to-be built facility along Riggin Avenue, near Plaza Drive.
“This site was chosen due to its central location and easy access to transportation routes,” said MilliporeSigma Spokesperson Karen Tiano.
It will serve as a west coast distribution center for Millipore Sigma’s life science products.
Tiano said the center will create around 30 new jobs.
It’s expected to be open later this year.
Central Valley Business TImes
January 8, 2019
California’s farmers and ranchers had more than $50 billion in cash receipts for their output last year, an increase of almost 6 percent compared to 2016, according to the new California Agricultural Statistics Review for crop year 2017. That is nearly double the next highest state, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The Number 2 state is Iowa, followed by Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota. Seven out of the top ten counties for agricultural output value are in the Central Valley: California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities.
Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. California is the leading state for cash farm receipts, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s total agricultural value. The top producing commodities for 2017 include: Dairy products, milk — $6.56 billion Grapes— $5.79 billion Almonds— $5.60 billion Strawberries— $3.10 billion Cattle and calves — $2.53 billion Lettuce— $2.41 billion Walnuts— $1.59 billion Tomatoes— $1.05 billion Pistachios— $1.01 billion Broilers— $939 million.
“As you know, farming and ranching can be a tough business. But these are still exciting times for agriculture,” says Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture in the report.
“As we move further into the 21st Century we see a worldwide demand for food that is growing rapidly, and a corresponding demand for Californiagrown products that will bring tremendous opportunity for producers able to maintain sustainability in the face of climate change.”
California agricultural exports totaled $20.56 billion for 2017. Top commodities for export in 2017 included almonds, dairy and dairy products, pistachios, wine and walnuts.