Press Room

High-Speed Rail Nears 1,100 Daily Workers at Central Valley Job Sites, California High-Speed Rail Authority Reports

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) is now averaging a daily record of nearly 1,100 workers dispatched to construction sites throughout the Central Valley. This milestone comes as the country celebrates Labor Day and the contributions of the American worker.

“The Authority is proud to keep hardworking men and women on the job and in the field during this worldwide pandemic,” said Authority CEO Brian Kelly. “These individuals are more than ‘essential.’ Each day, these skilled workers are out building for California and the nation’s future, and their contribution is invaluable.”
In partnership with local trade unions, the State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board, the Authority is proud to work alongside such skilled laborers. Electricians, cement masons, steel workers and others are helping bring the nation’s first high-speed rail system to life while contributing to the local economy across five counties.

“The High-Speed Rail Authority continuously lives up to its promise by providing opportunities to disadvantaged communities,” said State Building and Construction Trades Council of California President Robbie Hunter. “As more construction sites open, the opportunities grow for our growing workforce and apprentices eager to make high-speed rail a reality.”

Since the beginning of the high-speed rail project, the Authority has worked to ensure jobs created on the project benefit disadvantaged areas through the execution of a Community Benefits Agreement. The agreement includes a Targeted Worker Program that requires 30 percent of all project work hours be performed by individuals who come from disadvantaged communities where household income ranges from $32,000 to $40,000 annually.

Each of the project’s design-builders is implementing the Targeted Worker Program. Out of the more than 4,300 workers dispatched to the project, 226 reported living in Madera County, 1,791 living in Fresno County, 128 living in Kings County, 406 living in Tulare County, and 580 in Kern County. “It’s neat to be part of one of the biggest projects in California,” said Nicholas Godbey, a laborer working on an overpass at Davis Avenue in Fresno County. “I work with great people every day and I take a lot of pride in being a laborer. There’s not many who can say they are part of building high-speed rail.”

The Authority currently has 119 miles under construction within three construction packages. Design-builder contractors Tutor-Perini/Zachry/Parsons, Dragados-Flatiron/Joint Venture, and California Rail Builders have 32 active construction sites with more expected to open in the coming months. This work totals more than $4.8 billion in construction commitments.

https://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/25191-high-speed-rail-nears-1-100-daily-workers-at-central-valley-job-sites-california-high-speed-rail-authority-reports

Despite economic hardships, almond industry continues to thrive

A recent report published by the Almond Board of California shows that despite a currently challenging trade environment, global shipments of almonds continue to increase as the industry navigates through tough times.

California almond growers are consistently producing crops at record or near-record levels year after year, meaning the industry must constantly work to expand existing export markets and continue to grow demand in those regions — while also keeping an eye on new opportunities at the global level. In the past year, the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with China’s continued tariffs, have continued to pose a problem for growers looking to move their nuts from California ports to export markets.

During the 2019-2020 crop year, California produced 2.55 billion pounds of almonds. Nearly 1.6 billion pounds were exported, while domestic shipments accounted for 774 million pounds. This represents nearly parallel growth between the two compared to 2018-2019, when domestic shipments grew 4.5 percent and exports grew five percent. The ABC credits this continued growth to the industry’s investment in nutrition research, as well as development of the global market.

The ABC expanded its nutrition research into the area of beauty in the past year, and is also building demand through consumer marketing programs in 11 countries, from India and Japan to the U.S. and Mexico.

“One of the things that I first noticed when I joined the Almond Board four years ago was the passion and pride staff have in helping grow this industry,” Vice President of Global Market Development Emily Fleischmann states in the report, “and that fire continues. It’s what has helped our teams launch innovative new campaigns like ‘Do You Almond’ in the UK this past year and what helps almonds remain the number one nut in new product introductions for 10 years running.”

Forthcoming partnerships include a campaign with Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings, a brand-new campaign in France and the ABC’s first digital program in India.

India received 256 million pounds of almonds from the U.S. in 2019-2020, followed by Spain (193 million), Germany (134 million) and China (99 million). Global trade tensions with China have changed the landscape of priority markets, according to the report.

“Five years ago, China was our second-largest export destination. It stayed as the third-largest market for several years, surpassed only by the strong growth of the Indian market,” said Julie Adams, vice president of Global Technical and Regulatory Affairs for the ABC.

Adams went on to explain that retaliatory tariffs implemented by China two years ago derailed progress that had been made, with the country previously poised to expand amid an increasing middle class and economic growth.

“Starting in April 2018, we saw the impact of the trade war, which took almonds from a 10 percent tariff to the current 55 percent tariff,” Adams said. “Over the last two years, shipments to China/Hong Kong dropped 25percent in crop year 2018-19 and another 23 percent in crop year 2019-20, with Australia benefiting.”

Although China has dropped to fourth in the line of top U.S. export destinations, the country is still key to building demand for expanded crop production. Many trade issues take a long time to resolve, Adams stated, but it is still essential to engage in positive interactions with difficult markets so that a solution can be found quickly

The report states that global appeal among customers and consumers worldwide is clearly reflected in the almond industry’s regional shipments, and that being well diversified helps counteract trade disruptions that can unexpectedly come up in one market or another. For example, India and China have historically been the primary destination for in-shell markets, but now India has absorbed much of those shipments.

In India, almonds are the number one ag import at $732 million, accounting for 40 percent of all U.S. ag exports to India. In the United Arab Emirates, almonds are the number one ag import and account for around 23 percent of total U.S. ag exports. “There are so many growth opportunities around the globe,” Adams said. “For years, the Middle East and Africa were a small share of exports, but now they represent almost 20 percent.” While acknowledging the many challenges facing California almonds, Adams also believes “the opportunities are limitless.”

https://www.turlockjournal.com/news/local/despite-economic-hardships-almond-industry-continues-thrive/#:~:text=A%20recent%20report%20published%20by,industry%20navigates%20through%20tough%20times.&text=During%20the%202019%2D2020%20crop,2.55%20billion%20pounds%20of%20almonds.

Former Sears warehouse in Delano will become home to 100 new distribution jobs

A former Sears warehouse in Delano has been purchased by a furniture and bedding company that plans to reuse the 1.2 million-square-foot building as a distribution center employing about 100 people within the next two years.

The purchase by Utah-based Malouf is the latest large distribution center deal in the valley portion of Kern County, where warehousing companies include Amazon, Walmart and other large national retailers. Terms of the transaction announced Wednesday were not disclosed. Malouf said in a news release the building will expand its ability to offer next-day shipping in the western United States. It stated it was pleased to operate in “an area with an excellent labor pool with a strong work ethic” and that it plans to begin using the facility later this year.

Occupying nearly 166 acres, the building at 1700 Schuster Court has 185 dock doors, an extensive conveyor system and storage racks. The seller of the property was represented by Stephen Haupt with Colliers International. Malouf was represented by Eric Dienstbach with Binswanger. “The Sears facility in Delano seemed to be a perfect fit with existing racking, conveyors and equipment,” Haupt, a local senior vice president at Colliers, wrote in an email. “Malouf will be a great asset to Kern County, creating 100 new jobs, building on Kern County’s successful job created by recent additions of Amazon, Dollar General, Loreal, Ross Dress-for-less and Walmart,” he continued. “I was happy to involve Melinda Brown, with the (Kern Economic Development Corp.), to assist the Malouf with local and state contacts and incentives. The KEDC is always a great partner and resource when working with potential clients.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/former-sears-warehouse-in-delano-will-become-home-to-100-new-distribution-jobs/article_42763f92-bbeb-11ea-aff4-5f1fe79de5ff.html

Research shows more people migrating to Central Valley during pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — The pandemic has resulted in many people not only working from home, but they’re also looking for ways to reduce their rent payments. As a result, the Valley has seen more people moving here from outside the area. Luxury apartments at The Residences at the Row in northeast Fresno have been quickly filled as the complex builds out the new complex. Many units were leased before they even became available.

Manco Abbott specializes in property management. Chief Operating Officer Adam Goldfarb said, “We see a lot of influx this year, especially with the brand new construction properties with a lot of the new amenities, are moving there and quite often it’s from out of town.” The website Apartment List helps people find apartments but research it has been conducting revealed an interesting trend when it comes to Fresno apartments. A large number of searches for Fresno units were coming from different parts of the state, especially Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Apartment List Research Associate Rob Warnock explained, “This year, people from outside Fresno accounted for 35% so we saw about a 6-7% point increase in that search activity from people outside of the region.” Goldfarb said luxury properties were appealing to many people coming here from outside the region. Rents at The Row ranged from $1600 to $2300 a month but the complex also featured a fitness center and a pool. Many people who were working from home were drawn to the free high-speed internet that was offered. Goldfarb noted, “They’re going to the higher-end communities moving from big metropolitan areas. They’re used to apartments with all the bells and whistles.” But as money becomes tighter, more families seemed to be looking to relocate in more affordable areas Warnock said, “A lot of people need to find a cheaper place to live as a result of the economic fallout of the pandemic.”

Apartment List added its research showed roughly the same amount of people moving here from out of town, about 35%, were also looking to move out of the Valley. Last year the number was higher – at 42%.

Central Valley students start journey to become physicians at UCSF Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — A dozen motivated Central Valley students are starting their medical school journey at UCSF Fresno, with plans to return and serve as physicians in the community they call home.
First-year medical student Vanessa Mora knew from an early age she wanted to be a doctor. “My parents were migrant farmworkers, so I got to see a lot of the inequities they faced being uninsured and low-income,” said Mora. Born and raised in Fowler, she knew her medical journey wouldn’t be complete without serving in the Central Valley. “If I run away from this and I don’t go back to make a difference. How can I expect others to do the same?” said Mora. That’s when she set her sights on the UCSF San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education or SJV Prime. “The goal is to bring students like myself, who have connections to the Valley back so we can help our community,” explained Mora.

It wasn’t easy. Mora says she applied to medical school three times before finally being accepted at her dream school. “It was a match made in heaven because UCSF was already the dream institution where I wanted to go, and the program that aligned with my values was there,” added Mora. SJV Prime trains students for a medical career right here in the valley. “There’s really an impending health crisis in the Valley,” explained Dr. Leticia Rolon, Associate Director of SJV Prime. “There’s a very low patient to M.D. ratio.” “We have a lot of doctors that are retiring, a lot of doctors who are leaving the area, and we don’t have a lot of doctors coming in,” continued Rolon.

A dozen students are part of this year’s cohorts, learning their trade mostly from a laptop due to COVID-19 restrictions. “We have things like simulations and videos, but it’s not the same,” said Rolon. “This is not how I expected to start medical school, but this is just for now, and I’ll be in school for a very long time,” said Mora. As for Mora, she hopes her medical career will take her full circle, and she may one day work for UCSF Fresno.

‘We’re all COVID-free:’ Pro-surfers back in the Valley, compete in WSL’s Rumble at the Ranch for charity

USDA to Host CFAP Producer Webinar to Discuss Newly Eligible Specialty Crops, Nursery Crops, Cut Flowers and more

Join the USDA Farm Service Agency as we discuss another round of additional commodities that are now eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).  Hear program specialists provide scenario examples for nursery crops, specialty crops and aquaculture.  We will also cover adjustments made to the program and recap program basics.  USDA’s Farm Service Agency is now accepting applications for CFAP through September 11, 2020.  The CFAP program helps offset price declines and additional marketing costs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/outreach-and-education/webinars/

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Are you a farmer or rancher whose operation has been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on August 11 that the deadline to apply for CFAP has been extended to September 11. The original application deadline was August 28, 2020. USDA’s Farm Service Agency offers multiple ways for you to apply for CFAP to meet your business needs.

Producers self-certify when applying for CFAP, and documentation is not submitted with the application. You may be asked for additional documentation to support your certification of eligible commodities, so you should retain the documentation used to complete your application.

https://www.farmers.gov/cfap

Overton Moore Properties Buys 118,056 SF Industrial Building in Lathrop, California

LATHROP, CALIF. — Overton Moore Properties, in a joint venture with Invesco Real Estate, has acquired a single-tenant industrial facility located at 18231 Murphy Parkway in Lathrop. Terms of the transaction were not released.

Situated on 11 acres, the 118,056-square-foot property is fully leased to Simwon America Corp., a Tier 1 supplier of Tesla. The buyer plans to expand the current building by approximately 80,000 square feet for Simwon’s growing manufacturing demands. Mike Goldstein and Ryan McShane of Colliers International, Stockton/Central Valley office, represented the buyer and undisclosed seller in the deal.

https://rebusinessonline.com/overton-moore-properties-buys-118056-sf-industrial-building-in-lathrop-california/?oly_enc_id=0462I5076934B9U

County of Madera Small Business Pandemic Assistance Grant

PRESS RELEASE
August 5, 2020

The County of Madera Board of Supervisors approved a Small Business Pandemic Assistance Grant program to help support small businesses located in Madera County, including the City of Madera and the City of Chowchilla. The County will partner with the Madera County Economic Development Commission (MCEDC) to disperse over $3.8 Million in the form of small business grants. The County received the funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security Act (or CARES Act) from the State of California originating from the United States Government. “This program affirms the Board’s commitment to use available resources to help ensure businesses in the County see a path to recovery from this crisis,” said David Rogers, Board Chairman.

By state mandate many businesses that had just recently reopened were forced to shut their doors for a second time. “Small businesses employ a significant portion of our community, especially in the hard hit sectors like tourism and hospitality. The action taken by the Board of Supervisors will give our local economy a chance to weather this pandemic,” said Jay Varney, Madera County CAO. “So many of our small businesses throughout the County have been devastated by the COVID- 19 Pandemic we felt this was a great way to help them survive during these unprecedented times,” said Bobby Kahn, Executive Director of MCEDC. “It has been the absolute worst nightmare come true for so many industries.”

Eligible businesses with 50 or fewer employees can apply for grants in the amount of $5,000 or $10,000 depending on the size of their business. They will be able to obtain applications by going to mcedccountybusinessgrant.com or call the MCEDC office at 559-675-7768 for assistance.