– October 22, 2014

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Latest Local News

Written on 10/22/2014, 4:33 pm by Business Journal staff
The City of Hanford was recognized along with consultants Quad Knopf and Zumwalt-Hansen & Associates for a plan to revitalize the city's eastern...
Written on 10/22/2014, 2:11 pm by Business Journal staff
Two Fresno organizations were awarded $20,000 each from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. as part of the utility's program to support economic and job creating efforts throughout its Northern and Central California territory. Now in its second year, PG&E's Economic Vitality Grant Program is investing $200,000 to support the work of 10 organizations that prop up small businesses and promote workforce development. Among them, the Fresno Career Development Institute will use its $20,000 grant to support job skill training and career pathway support for 20 single mothers and fathers from underserved communities. Another $20,000 will go to the UC Merced Small Business Development Regional Network in Fresno to support training for business consultants available to local entrepreneurs and small businesses. Other grantees include the Kern Economic Development Corporation, Butte County Economic Development Corporation, the City of Monterey, United Roots in Oakland, Mujeres Unidas y Activas in San Francisco, America’s Job Center of California in San Luis Obispo, New Vision Santa Rosa and the Downtown Stockton Alliance. The nonprofit organizations were selected out of nearly 130 applications based on factors like community need, strength of plans presented and demonstrable links to job creation.
Written on 10/22/2014, 1:45 pm by Business Journal staff
Property values in the southern San Joaquin Valley increased 5.5 percent in the last year, the state Board of Equalization reported. The region, made up of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties, combined for $3.96 billion in assessed property values in 2014-15, an increase of $206.4 million over 2013-14. Fresno County had a 5.7 percent growth in assessed value, while Tulare County grew 4.8 percent, Kings County grew 1.1 percent and Kern County grew 5.9 percent. "Higher property values are an encouraging sign that California's economic recovery is finally gaining traction throughout our state," said BOE Member George Runner, who covers the agency's second district. "This is good news, especially for homeowners still underwater and workers who still need jobs." Statewide, the total value of state and county assessed property increased for the fourth straight year, rising 6.1 percent from the previous year to $4.918 trillion. The value of state-assessed property, mainly privately owned public utilities and railroads, totaled $93.3 billion in the latest year for a 2.7-percent increase. In all, 55 out of 58 counties posted year-over-year increases in assessed value, with most of those increases being more than 2 percent.
Written on 10/22/2014, 12:13 pm by Business Journal staff
China Peak Mountain Resort will be conducting a hiring fair all day Friday and Saturday at Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis. Representatives from the resort will be at the former Gottschalks location at 1200 Shaw Ave. from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 and 25. China Peak is hiring for the 2011-2012 winter season and needing to fill more than 300 positions. Available positions include:• Building and yard/janitorial crew• Cashiers/guest services• Food service• Hotel personnel• Lift attendants• Parking attendants• Purchasing/warehouse• Rental technicians• Ski/snowboard instructors• Terrain park crew A banner will be displayed outside the building, which is east of the mall entrance. For those that miss the event, another job fair will be held at China Peak on Nov. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Employees at the resort benefit from free skiing and riding privileges, plus discounts on food and services. More information about employment opportunities can be found online at www.skichinapeak/employment.aspx. China Peak is located about 65 miles northeast of Fresno near Huntington Lake. The 1,400-acre resort was long known as Sierra Summit before former employee Tim Cohee acquired it in 2010.
Written on 10/22/2014, 11:28 am by ben
Home sales fell throughout the state in September, although Kings County continued to be among the few exceptions. According to a new report from the California Association of Realtors, homes sales in Kings County improved 16.7 percent from August to September. Sales were also up 1.2 percent compared to September 2013. The median price of a home in the county was unchanged at $183,330 in September, both up 8.8 percent from $168,460 a year ago. Home sales in Fresno County declined 0.3 percent from August and 1.6 percent compared to September 2013. The price of a median home in Fresno County stood at $208,210 in September, up 2.2 percent from $203,760 the prior month and 12 percent from $185,830 a year ago. Tulare County saw its home sales fall 6.9 percent during the month but increase 3.6 percent in the year-over-year comparison. The county's median home price fell by 5.1 percent in September to $175,000 from August's price of $184,440. That's up 7 percent from $163,500 a year ago. Home sales in Madera County were down 6.3 percent compared to August and 31.8 percent year-over-year. The county's median home price was down 6 percent in the month, going from $166,670 in August to $156,670 in September. That's also down 17.5 percent from $190,000 last year. Home sales may have dropped in September but the available supply of houses saw some healthy increases in the Valley. Tulare County's index was up to 4.9 months in September compared to 4.5 months in August and 4.2 months a year ago. Madera County's index increased to 7.1 months compared to 6.9 months in August and 5 months last year. Fresno County's unsold inventory index, or number of months to deplete the supply of homes at the current sales rate, was unchanged in September at 5.2 months, up from 4.4 months in September 2013. Kings County's index stood at 3.2 months in September, down from 4 months in August but up from 3 months the year before. Statewide, home sales totaled 396,440 units in September, up just 0.4 percent from 394,700 in August but down 4.2 percent from 413,850 in September 2013. "September’s slight sales increase and tempering in home price gains suggest optimism as we head into the slower homebuying season," said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young, in a statement. "Home prices are stabilizing, and the year-to-year sales decline is at the lowest level we’ve seen in the last 12 months. The cooling price growth and recent drops in mortgage rates will ease housing affordability and help to improve sales in the final months of the year."
Written on 10/22/2014, 10:55 am by Ben Keller, Business Journal staff writer
Business continued to lull for Valley lodges in September, but they still pulled in more guests than the same period last year. According to a monthly lodging report by STR, the average occupancy rate in the Fresno area stood at 61.3 percent in September. That's down from 62.9 percent in August but above 58.8 percent in September 2013. The average daily rate for a room in the area fell from $84.69 in August to $83.55 in the latest month, still up from $78.65 last year. Over the last month, the supply of rooms dropped from 317,440 to 307,290. Fresno area lodges also reported decreased revenues of $15.73 million in September compared to $16.92 million the prior month. Both are up from $14.27 million a year ago. Tulare/Visalia area lodges saw the average occupancy rate fall to 76 percent in September from 77.6 percent in August, still an increase from 71.1 percent last year. The area's average daily rate stood at $90.59 in the month compared to $91.59 in August and $88.09 a year ago. The supply of rooms in the Tulare/Visalia area was at 162,150 in September, down from 167,555 the month before. Revenues also decreased, going from $11.91 million in August to $11.17 million in September. That's up from $10.16 million in September 2013. Statewide, the average occupancy rate stood at 73.6 percent in September, down from 81.4 percent in August but up from 72.1 percent a year ago. The average daily rate for a room in California stood at $143.21 in the latest month compared to $155.27 in August and $134.18 in September 2013. With a combined supply of just more than 15.14 million rooms in the month, lodges in the state reported revenues of around $1.59 billion in September, down from $1.98 billion the month before but up from $1.45 billion the year before.
Written on 10/22/2014, 10:48 am by Business Journal staff
The Selma Arts Center was honored with a national design award from the Society of American Registered Architects during a ceremony last week in Palm Springs.  Selma City Manager Kenneth Gray and architect Arthur Dyson accepted the award for the building. The project was one of 40 from around the world which was honored during the event and Dyson received awards for two of his projects.  The Selma Arts Center opened in August of 2013 with a performance of The Sound of Music and has hosted numerous shows, concerts, and meetings since then. The center is located at 1935 High Street in downtown Selma and has helped to revitalize the entire area. The theater has state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment and can seat 244 people.  "This is the only structure in the City of Selma and the greater surrounding area that has received national recognition for design excellence. The arts center is representative of the commitment that Selma has made to revitalize its downtown district and to invigorate investment and growth in our community," Grey said.  For more information on events at the Selma Arts Center visit or call the venue at (559) 891-2238. 
Written on 10/22/2014, 9:16 am by Business Journal staff
Children who have excess candy after Halloween this year can trade it in for $1 per pound and support deployed soldiers through Smiles by Sullivan and Operation Gratitude in Tulare.  John Sullivan, DDS, founded Smiles by Sullivan and held the first candy donation campaign last year. One hundred pounds of candy were donated during the event.  "We encourage parents to limit the damage that can be done to their children's teeth by eating too many sweets, and this is a fun way to help parents do that," Dr. Sullivan added. "Kids can still have all of the fun of trick-or-treating, and now their piggy banks will benefit as well." Candy will be collected at Smiles by Sullivan at 925 N. Blackstone St. in Tulare on Monday, Nov. 3. Trick-or-treaters can come by between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m and will receive $1 per pound of all unopened candy.  The candy collected will be used in care packages and sent to deployed U.S. service members and their children, to Wounded Warriors and their caregivers and to veterans. 
Written on 10/21/2014, 3:47 pm by Business Journal staff
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) cited 16 individuals for illegal contracting during an undercover sting operation in Madera County on Oct. 15 and 16.  The operation was conducted with assistance from members of the Madera County Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol and Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Investigators posed as homeowners in the Yosemite Lake development near Coarsegold and reached out to suspected illegal contractors for bids on landscaping, tree services, painting, concrete and electrical work.  Bids ranged from $900 to $6,000 for the project. In California, all home improvement projects valued at $500 or more must be performed by a company or person who is CSLB licensed. Investigators charged 16 individuals with contracting without a license and four face additional charges of displaying a license not belonging to them.  Jesse Christopher Giovingo of Coarsegold, David Taylor Sheets of Clovis, Daniel Everett Chesterman and Stephanie Marie Orcutt both of North Fork, all face the additional charges. "Contractor licenses are not transferable between anyone: associates, friends - family members included," CSLB Registrar Steve Sands said in a prepared statement. "Consumers need to check the contractor license and ask to see a picture ID to be sure that there is no deception." Thirteen individuals caught in the sting face additional charges of illegal advertising since state law requires contractors to include their license number in all print, broadcast and online advertisements for jobs valued at $500 or more.  Citations for operating without workers' compensation insurance were also issued to four individuals and they received stop orders forbidding further work until the insurance issue is resolved.  According to the CSLB, one of the unlicensed contractors who was cited during the sting was also registered sex offender. The CSLB encourages consumers to always check the license and identification first by visiting their website or calling 1-800-321-2757.  CSLB licenses and regulates about 290,000 contractors in California and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2013-14, the organization helped recover nearly $51 million in ordered restitution for consumers. 
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:51 am by Business Journal staff
Kaiser Permanente will give $500,000 in grants to four community organizations during a food distribution and health event in Mendota on Thursday.  The event will be held at 9:30 a.m. at Rojas Pierce Park, 350 Sorensen Avenue. The distribution and  grant money will assist residents in communities which have been the most impacted by the drought including Mendota, Kerman, Orange Cove, Parlier, San Joaquin, Huron and Firebaugh.  "These grants contribute to Kaiser Permanente's commitment to expanding access to care and healthy foods along with our history of helping people and organizations in need," Jeff Collins, Kaiser Permanente Fresno's senior vice president and area manager, said in a prepared statement.  Representatives from Kaiser Permanente Fresno will be present to distribute the grants. The Community Food Bank will receive $300,000 to help add fresh produce and lean protein to its monthly food distribution events. A $24,500 grant will be given to the American Red Cross to help provide emergency drinking water to residents.  The Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation will receive $75,500 to use for its medical and dental services mobile vehicle and existing Fresno County clinics, and the Marjaree Mason Center will receive $100,000 to offer prevention outreach and support services to domestic violence victims, residents and service providers in the rural communities. 

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