Top World Region – San Joaquin Valley Agriculture

Fresno County is home to over 1.4 million acres of productive pasture and farmland. It remained the top ag county in the state and nation. Ag commissioner Melissa Cregan delivered the crop report to county supervisors. Cregan told the board, “The 2019 gross production value for agriculture in Fresno County was $7.718 billion.”

That figure was down 2% from a year ago but the battle to be the number-one ag producer was extremely tight among valley counties. Fresno County topped the list at $7.71 billion. Kern County was right behind at $7.62 billion, while Tulare County was at $7.50 billion.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen explained, “In a year like this year, you really appreciate that the value that every single farmer contributes really makes that difference.” The pandemic decreased demand for some crops during the spring. In April, we watched some lettuce get disced back into the ground because orders for restaurants and schools were canceled due to a sudden drop in demand in the foodservice industry. Cregan said, “Fresno County’s agricultural strength is based on the diversity of the crops we produce.”

Over 300 crops were grown in Fresno County. Seventy-eight of them topped $1 million in annual ag production. Jacobsen said, “The shining star once again was almonds, saw a dramatic increase there. A lot of that was acreage based.” Almonds were worth over $1.5 billion in 2019.

The number-two crop, grapes, dipped under the billion-dollar mark though. Jacobsen said, “Table grapes, wine grapes as well as raisins. It’s been tough for the local grape industry.” Pistachios, poultry and milk rounded out the county’s top five crops. Cregan thanked local growers and ranchers for their resiliency during a tough year. She said, “All the glory goes to the farmers because they’re the ones producing these crops and placed us where we are.” International trade was down. Ag officials believe continued challenges posed by the pandemic may lead to lower production numbers next year.

https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.111/c75.1d5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Kern-EDC_Ag-Flyer_2020.pdf

Tejon Ranch plays unique role in extraordinary times

If you have been in Kern County for any length of time you undoubtedly know about the magnificent ranch that encompasses 270,000 acres just south of Bakersfield and contains one of the most diverse intersections of nature, commerce, energy, housing and agriculture in the western United States. That diversity has contributed to the company’s resilience during these turbulent times. But what impact has this had on the economic future of Kern County, its small businesses and thousands of individual jobs?

Let’s take two of our company’s signature developments: the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center and its denizen Outlets at Tejon. The direct jobs alone are responsible for the employment of anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 individuals. The importance of a job cannot be overstated, particularly during a crisis, and the multiplier effect of each dollar earned — particularly those dollars spent by consumers from outside our area — coursing through our economy is critical to our county’s success. But even “essential” industries such as ours must put the safety and well-being of our employees and customers first – and we have found this to be abundantly achievable without sacrificing the jobs and economic vitality our county needs.

The Outlets at Tejon, for example, put in place a rigorous cleaning and sanitizing process as well as signage reminding everyone of suggested COVID-19 safety precautions such as social distancing and mask wearing. Although some attractions such as the food court, Camp Tejon and all kiddie rides had to remain temporarily closed, we were able to direct visitors to the numerous food options at the same exit in the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center including In-N-Out Burger, Chipotle, Starbucks, Pieology and Habit Burger, as well as recently opened operations like Dunkin Donuts, Jamba Juice and Charley’s Philly Cheesesteaks near the entrance to the outlets.

The ability to maintain much of this employment is made possible by you, the customers, who shop at Tejon’s outdoor retail offerings, as well as the many drive-thru restaurants where the sales taxes alone total nearly $10 million annually. Property, fuel and other taxes paid by the company as well as its partners and third-party owners are in the millions of additional dollars and all these tax revenues support much-needed public benefits including our roads, schools and public safety operations.

We are incredibly fortunate that the majority of the businesses in our center have managed to continue operations thanks to their essential nature, excellent safety procedures and an outdoor or drive-thru window capacity. The pandemic experience has challenged us all to reach a little bit higher, dig a little deeper and embrace the things that matter most. We have always taken pride in our role as a gateway from southern California to our beautiful community. That responsibility has motivated us to set the bar high in terms of quality, aesthetics and operations, as a standard bearer for the proud and resilient people of Kern County. The ongoing ability to provide jobs, fuel, food and supplies is one that we take seriously, while we look forward to a vibrant future for everyone in California.

https://www.bakersfield.com/kern-business-journal/tejon-ranch-plays-unique-role-in-extraordinary-times/article_d83f340c-f485-11ea-b82c-f3fa3ae2febc.html

Tehachapi Mountains receives wine growing designation

After years of hard work, Tehachapi Mountains has received accreditation for its award-winning wines. On Wednesday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, announced that local vintners can now label their bottles of wine as the Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area.

Established by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, this action will allow Tehachapi wines to compete with other well-known AVAs in the state such as Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles. There are currently 251 AVAs in the United States, including 140 in California.

Jim Arnold, Triassic Vineyards’ owner and president of Tehachapi Wine Growers Commission, was instrumental in the Tehachapi Mountains receiving its AVA accreditation. “I am excited that the Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area has been approved. This means a lot for the Tehachapi wine growers, the greater Tehachapi area and Kern County. In addition to being known as ‘The Land of Four Seasons,’ Tehachapi will become known as an exceptional wine-growing region tucked away in the Tehachapi Mountains,” said Arnold. Arnold said that if it wasn’t for the efforts of Bob and Patty Souza and Chuck McCollough, Tehachapi’s original wine growers, the recent accreditation could not have been possible.

In 2018, Tehachapi area vineyard owners filed a petition with the TTB to establish an AVA in the region. It was accepted as perfected and ready for rule-making later that year.  “This announcement is welcome news for our community, which has been working to establish the Tehachapi Mountains AVA for several years and is something I have strongly supported and urged the administration to finalize,” McCarthy wrote in a news release. The Tehachapi Mountains AVA will encompass approximately 58,000 acres of some of the highest elevations in the country.

According to Julie Bell, Tehachapi Mountains AVA petition author, the establishment of the Tehachapi Mountains AVA will give Tehachapi area winegrowers the ability to develop and market their wine based on the reputation of the Tehachapi area for producing high-quality wine grapes. “The high altitude, yet warm conditions truly make the Tehachapi area unique, providing winegrowers a setting to grow and fully ripen quality wine grapes, which require both warm, sunny days and cool nights to develop the subtle flavors necessary to make outstanding wines,” Bell said in the news release.

McCarthy said that the AVA designation will also help stimulate the local economy by further putting Tehachapi wines on the map. “I think this is the most wonderful thing that could happen to Tehachapi. Now, we are a wine-growing region, and we get to be recognized for it, and I couldn’t be happier,” Tehachapi Mayor Susan Wiggins said Wednesday.

City Manager Greg Garrett also voiced his excitement.  “The city of Tehachapi is thrilled to raise a glass in cheers to our local wine growers,” Garrett said Wednesday. “The accreditation of the Tehachapi Mountains AVA not only brings our local growers and winemakers into the spotlight, but all of our community will benefit from the positive economic benefit it brings us. This accreditation could not have been possible without the leadership of Congressman McCarthy and the growers working together to achieve this goal. Akin to a good blend of wine.”

According to Zack Scrivner, 2nd District Kern County supervisor, the AVA accreditation provides an important economic development tool for the regional vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms, which will, in turn, increase tourism and sales. “I congratulate the Tehachapi Wine Growers Commission and the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council who have worked so hard to bring this important designation to our beautiful region,” Scrivner wrote.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/tehachapi-mountains-receives-wine-growing-designation/article_7d851870-29ea-11eb-82b0-1743a88af3d9.html

Baloian growing more than vegetables, Fresno expansion complete

As the summer season settles in for Baloian Farms, commodity harvests are approaching the peak of the season, the completion of a massive facility expansion in Fresno, CA, is a welcomed sight. The expansion includes the creation of additional dock space, the doubling the number of loading bay doors, and increased semi-truck parking capacity. These expansion areas combine to facilitate additional storage capacity for crops and also increases outbound loading efficiencies. The expansion simultaneously increases cross-docking capabilities for the growing needs of customers.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to grow with our customers, and this facility expansion is just one phase of many that incorporates many years of planning and strategy,” said Jeremy Lane, sales manager for Baloian Farms. “Our long-term growth strategy includes year-round production of peppers, squash, eggplant, and chile peppers for distribution within the United States, Canada and Mexico.”

Timothy Baloian, CEO of Baloian Farms said, “The expansion of our Fresno location is an important investment in customer service, and we are contributing to the sustainability of our regional growers and business partners, both from a farming standpoint, and also from our business model that accommodates for the changing needs of our customers.”

Baloian Farms’ management anticipates an increasing need for multiple commodities to be ready and available to customers at all times. By increasing their product line this season to add yams, chili peppers, and cucumbers, these facility expansion plans are well served to bring Baloian Farms into a new decade of commodity leadership and growth.

Baloian Farms is a fourth-generation, vertically integrated family farm, with year-round operations specializing in peppers and mixed vegetables grown in California and Mexico.

https://theproducenews.com/baloian-growing-more-vegetables-fresno-expansion-complete

The Hottest Housing Markets Right Now In 2020

15 Housing Markets That Are Hot in 2020

The 15 hottest housing markets in 2020 are spread out across the U.S., though there are some geographic patterns. Out west, California, Idaho and Utah are home to several of the hottest housing markets. In the east, the hottest housing markets can be found in the Mid-Atlantic region and New England. Beyond that, Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas are the other remaining places home to the hottest housing markets. The coldest housing markets, on the other hand, are heavily centered on vacation spots — like cities in Florida, Hawaii and Nevada — as well as densely-populated coastal metropolises like San Francisco and New York, the latter of which was hit the heaviest by the Covid-19 pandemic in its early stages. Read on to find out the 15 hottest housing markets of 2020.

7. Stockton, California

Stockton has been on a sustained path of growth over the years in terms of its population and economy. The Stockton metro area offers homes that are more affordable compared to other major cities in the California housing market, but prices are rising. The median list price for a home in the Stockton area was under $390,000 two years ago, but has now reached $472,250, a 21.6% increase — roughly $84,000 — from September 2018 to September 2020.

Rising home prices have been coupled with tightening inventory and fewer days on market. Last September, Stockton homes spent a median of 27 days on the market before being sold. Only a year later, the average amount of time is down to a mere 10 days on the market before getting grabbed up. With houses flying off the shelf in the Stockton metro area, available inventory has dwindled. From having more than 1,700 homes for sale in September 2018, Stockton now has only 616 available homes as of September 2020 — a decline in inventory of nearly 65% in only two years.

11. Fresno, California

The Fresno metro area is another California housing market that’s hot this year, with homes flying off the market shortly after they’ve been put up. Since 2012, the record for fewest number of days a home spent on the market in Fresno was 14 days back in July 2017. That record, however, was trounced in September 2020 when homes spent a median of just 9 days on the market before being sold. As a result, Fresno’s housing inventory has shrunk from nearly 2,000 available homes for sale in September 2018, to only 805 homes as of September 2020. Like many other housing markets on our list, Fresno’s inventory has dropped by more than half in only two years, putting a serious squeeze on homebuyers to find places for sale, let alone finding deals.

Fresno launches outdoor dining parklet project in Tower District

City officials announced Friday that outdoor dining parklets would be built in front of restaurants in Fresno’s Tower District, with the intent of creating outdoor seating in response to COVID-19 guidelines. The first location to have a parklet is Irene’s Cafe, which will have a temporary parklet starting Friday, followed by The Revue and The Lincoln Pub & Grub, which will have parklets installed next week.

The money to build the parklets came from $600,000 in grants through Fresno’s CARES Act funds to build parklets across the city, with $35,000 going toward the three businesses. “Our Tower businesses deserve our support during this difficult time and I’m glad our city has stepped up and provided it,” said Council President Miguel Arias.

The temporary parklets are expected to be replaced within three weeks with a permanent parklet. Additionally, five other businesses have started the application process to expand their outdoor dining area. “We look forward to bringing more outdoor dining to the Tower District,” said Tyler Mackey, Executive Director of the Tower District Marketing Committee. “Our businesses appreciate the city’s desire to help create solutions for the challenges of COVID-19.”

In coordination with the Fresno Arts Council, a call to artists has been issued for art submissions for murals to be featured on the permanent parklets to be consistent with the public art in the Tower District and in agreement on design with the business owners. “We are very excited to launch this program bringing much needed COVID-19 relief to our Tower District business owners,” said Councilmember Esmeralda Soria. “Our community is struggling with the effects of COVID-19 and our small business owners have been among those most affected. This is a creative way of keeping our residents safe and our small businesses afloat.”

https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/local-news/fresno-launches-outdoor-dining-parklet-project-in-tower-district/

For CHSU’s Central Valley students, studying medicine at home is a dream

California Health Sciences University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine is a huge achievement for the Central Valley in itself. But, for the Central Valley natives who can now stay home to study medicine, it makes the upcoming school year even more special.

The 75 medical students making up the class of 2024 got acquainted with the 94,000 square foot campus during a three-day orientation this week. With the building meant to eventually house 600 students — along with faculty and staff — they all will be attending classes in-person with COVID-19 protocols in place.

The college’s dean, Dr. John Graneto, said 36% of the students are from the Central Valley. “We have students from Fresno, Sanger, Stockton, Bakersfield — all throughout the valley who said, ‘I would’ve never had an opportunity to go away to medical school if I had to go far away from my parents,’” Graneto said.

Bakersfield-native Rosie Kumal is one of those students. While she did her undergrad years at UCLA, she knew she had to return to the valley for medical school. Especially after experiencing the region’s health care issues firsthand. “My family always had a hard time finding a doctor, being covered under insurance,” Kumal recalled. “So, with the understanding of that background, I’m really excited to help people here in the Central Valley and give back.”

Matthew Lansman is another Central Valley native part of CHSU’s inaugural class in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. The Fresno State grad was inspired to pursue medicine when he was young, when a surgeon comforted him before starting an operation on his mother, who had breast cancer. “I was sitting in the waiting room, I was thinking, when I grow up I want to be the kind of person that can do the things she just did,” Lansman said. “I was a scared kid that came in this room and she brought so much peace to my life. I want to do that to other people.”

Lansman adds he applied as soon as CHSU opened up applications. He even turned down interviews at other medical schools after CHSU got back to him. Graneto said classes begin Monday at 8 a.m. First thing students will go through is a patient scenario with a primary care doctor.

https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/local-news/for-chsus-central-valley-students-studying-medicine-at-home-is-a-dream-2/

How one Central Valley city became Northern California’s logistics hub

Amazon. Safeway. Costco. FedEx. Ford. The Home Depot. These are just a few of the names that have established major distribution centers in San Joaquin County over the past 30 years.

Federal job statistics confirm that San Joaquin County is a leading center for warehousing, logistics and distribution in the Western United States. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Stockton-Lodi metropolitan area has the second-highest concentration of transportation and logistics jobs in the country — bested only by Laredo, Texas.

So what’s attracting all of these transportation, distribution and logistics operations to the region? A 2019 study from University of the Pacific’s Center for Business and Policy Research attributes the growth of San Joaquin County’s goods movement system to four primary causes: the rise of e-commerce, the coalescence of a Northern California mega-region, the county’s connectedness through its transportation infrastructure and its strategic location, and a workforce ideally suited for transportation and logistics jobs.

Strategic location

San Joaquin County is strategically located at the heart of what economists are calling the Northern California mega-region. It’s a concept that was first coined by the Bay Area Council in 2016. Encapsulating 21 counties in Northern California, the zone is home to more than 12 million people, representing nearly a third of California’s total population. The counties are connected by commute patterns, movement of goods, housing markets, and mutually complementary economies that help meet the needs of businesses throughout the region.

Stockton, San Joaquin County’s largest city (2018 population: 311,178) and primary economic center, is located less than 100 miles from San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento — places where the cost of land makes it prohibitively expensive to house expansive, large-footprint structures like warehouses and fulfillment centers. The combination of Stockton’s lower density and its proximity to large population centers in the Bay Area and Sacramento are what make it attractive to logistics and fulfillment operations in the region.

The exodus by these warehouses and distribution centers out of the core Bay Area began back in the mid-1990s, which was around the same time property values in San Francisco and nearby counties began to rise precipitously, according to the Center for Business and Policy Research. That trend has only accelerated since then. The center’s report finds that concentration of transportation and warehousing jobs has grown nearly three-fold since 1993.

A connected city

Whether it’s by air, land or sea, goods pass through Stockton around-the-clock.

Located at the nexus of two out of three major north-south freeways in California — I-5 and SR-99 — Stockton is connected by a robust ground transportation system to the major population centers in the Central Valley, Southern California and, via I-580, the San Francisco Bay Area. Moreover, its location along I-5, the major north-south freeway in the Western United States, provides connection to cities across the continental U.S.

The Port of Stockton, utilizing the San Joaquin River deep water channel, carries tons of cargo each year between the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay. Stockton Metropolitan Airport allows cargo carriers — including Amazon Air — to dispatch their goods to customers across the country.

All that is bolstered by top-tier rail service: The City of Stockton is served by two national Class I railway lines, and is home to two major intermodal rail-freight terminals, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific.

A motivated workforce

Known as a “city of makers,” Stockton is a top regional destination for artists, chefs, entrepreneurs, craftspersons and others working in the trades. San Joaquin Delta College, recently ranked the No. 4 best community college in the nation when measured along vectors related cost and quality, offers dozens of career and technical education (CTE) programs for career-minded individuals who know what industry they want to work in. Delta College also offers a CTE transition program for high school students grades nine through 12, offering a direct career pathway for jobs that are predicted to be in high demand, bypassing alternative paths that funnel students towards the increasingly saturated tech industry job market.

The culmination of these programs, together with Stockton’s relatively young population (the median age in Stockton is 32.8, compared to a national average of 38.2), creates a motivated, practical-minded, career-ready workforce ideal for filling blue-collar posts like those in the transportation and logistics industries. Additionally, with Stockton’s relatively low cost of living compared to coastal population centers in California, businesses will find a hardworking, relatively low-cost workforce in the Bay Area’s backyard.

SJ COUNTY: LAND OF AMAZON FULFILLMENT

San Joaquin County takes a back seat to no one — except San Bernardino County in Southern California — when it comes to Amazon Fulfillment Centers. With the opening earlier this year of the 746,790 square foot fulfillment center at 3565 North Airport Way in Manteca that’s sandwiched between 5.11 Tactical and Penske Logistics that serves as Lowe’s Northern California distribution center, there are now seven Amazon Fulfillment Centers in San Joaquin County. There are three apiece in Tracy and Stockton.

Those are in addition to the Amazon Prime delivery location on Louise Avenue in Manteca as well as the Amazon cargo operation at Stockton Metro Airport. Amazon is by far the largest private sector employer in San Joaquin County with well in excess of 6,000 jobs. According to FBA Help San Bernardino County is home to eight fulfillment centers. Tied with seven apiece are San Joaquin County and Dallas County in Texas. Riverside County in Southern California has five fulfillment centers. It was not by happenstance that San Joaquin County now has seven Amazon Fulfilment Centers.

The company Jeff Bezos founded is well known for its shrewd logistics chain that allows rapid delivery of customer orders. Much like the Inland Empire that consists of Riverside and San Bernardino counties is the prime logistics hub to serve the greater Los Angeles-San Diego area, San Joaquin County is the same for the NorCal Motorplex with 18 million consumers in and around its anchor cities of San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento. The San Joaquin Partnership — a private-public organization dedicated to securing employers to locate within the county — for years has touted South San Joaquin County as the emerging Inland Empire for Northern California.

If you toss in the Patterson distribution center just over the Stanislaus County line along Interstate 5, they are seven Amazon Fulfillment Centers in the region that consist altogether of more than 7 million square or the equivalent of 50 Manteca Costco stores at 140,000 square feet apiece. There are a number of reasons why Amazon and other retailers and suppliers with distribution networks are attracted to South San Joaquin County. Manteca, Lathrop, Tracy, and Stockton are roughly equal distance to San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento. Interstate 5 — the only freeway that runs from Canada to Mexico — as well as Highway 99 run through here. Interstate 205 provides access to the Bay Area.

There are two major intermodal operations where truck trailers are loaded and unloaded on rail cars. One is the Union Pacific Railroad facility sandwiched between Lathrop and Manteca directly behind the Manteca Amazon Fulfillment Center on North Airport Way. The other belongs to Santa Fe Railroad and is located 10 miles northeast of Manteca on Austin Road. The majority of freight is now moved long distance in such a manner with trucks doing the deliveries on both ends.

Also 10 miles north of Manteca is the Stockton Metro Airport that Amazon Prime jets are using on a daily basis, Unlike San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento airports there is minimal commercial traffic. The airport also has unparalleled access to freeways. Stockton Seaport doesn’t figure heavily into the distribution scheme but if the marine highway strategy is ever revived to take pressure off of truck movements out of the Port of Oakland by moving cargo containers by barge to Stockton, it could by enough of a magnet to draw distribution centers to the area.

Amazon opted to locate their Amazon Prime in a 91,340-square-foot delivery center on Louise Avenue in Manteca just west of the Manteca Unified School District complex for the same reason firms such as J&M Tractor and Frito-Lay shuttered separate distribution centers in Stockton and Modesto and relocated to a single facility in Manteca. Not only is Manteca 20 minutes away from both Stockton and Modesto but it is also 20 minutes away from Tracy that is closing in on 100,000 residents. That puts Manteca at the center of more than 1.2 million potential Amazon Prime consumers.

https://www.mantecabulletin.com/news/local-news/sj-county-land-amazon-fulfillment/

Tesla opens world’s largest Supercharger station

Tesla has been quickly expanding its Supercharger network lately and it just reached another milestone by opening the world’s new largest Supercharger station. It is located between two of Tesla’s biggest markets. Tesla’s fleet is growing at a fast pace and the automaker is adding more electric vehicles to the road than any other automaker. At the same time, the company is trying to keep up its infrastructure, like service centers, mobile service fleet, and charging infrastructure in order to support its growing fleet. Tesla’s charging infrastructure mainly consists of the Supercharger network, arguably one of the company’s greatest assets.

Recently, Tesla announced that it deployed its 20,000th charger in the Supercharger network. Now we’ve learned that Tesla has just opened a new Supercharger station that has become the new largest Supercharger station in the world:A few months ago, we reported on Tesla building the new Supercharger station in Firebaugh, California. We learned that Tesla was planning 56 Supercharger stalls at the new station — likely making it the largest Supercharger station in the world. Tesla has a few Supercharger stations with 50 stalls in China, but 56 is a new record. At 56 Superchargers, this new station will be six times bigger than Tesla’s average Supercharger station. It is located between the Bay Area and Los Angeles — two of Tesla’s biggest markets in the world. There is also a convenience store and a restaurant at the location that Tesla owners can patronize while they are charging.

Tesla has also built solar canopies to provide shade to the vehicles while also helping power the Supercharger station. The automaker has been promising to deploy more solar power capacity at Superchargers, but the rollout has been somewhat slow. CEO Elon Musk has been saying that Tesla will accelerate the deployment with the rollout of the Supercharger V3 stations, which started last year.

https://electrek.co/2020/11/14/tesla-opens-worlds-largest-supercharger-station/