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– September 20, 2014

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Written on 09/19/2014, 3:59 pm by Business Journal staff
Kaiser Permanente Northern California was again ranked as having the second top Medicare health plan out of more than 408 health plans in in the country,...
Written on 09/19/2014, 1:41 pm by Hannah Esqueda
Small business owners and several advocate groups gathered today at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce offices to call attention to the high number of lawsuits filed against local businesses.  Members of the group California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CCALA) said more than 200 businesses in Fresno and Clovis have been targeted with American's with Disability Act (ADA) compliance lawsuits in the last few years. They allege that a majority of those lawsuits are being filed by the same few attorneys. "You have a group of people who are essentially making a living off of this," Keith White said. White is a lawyer who has represented two dozen businesses who have faced ADA lawsuits.  White said he believed the law has good intentions, but there are several loopholes which are being exploited. When individuals take advantage of the loopholes to file frivolous lawsuits, small business owners often have to lay off staff or risk going out of business, he said.  Small business owners said they are also concerned because there is no warning period between when businesses are found to be non-compliant and when they are sued, making it easy for anyone to come inside, notice a few problems and sue the owners. Lee Ky agreed and said the individual who sued her mother's Reedley business, Doughnuts To Go, in 2010 hadn't even been a customer. Ky, who has used a wheelchair her whole life, said she had thought the store was fine and had never had any problems accessing any parts of the building.  "They found seven minor things," she said. "One was that we didn't have a wheelchair sticker on the table. Another was that the trashcan location in the bathroom was wrong. It's just the little tiny things that I got cited for. Those things don't even affect access." After being sued, Ky said she was amazed to learn that ADA compliance codes change every three years.  "It's just too fast for anyone to really keep up with," she said. A majority of the businesses being sued for noncompliance are minority-owned and in poorer parts of the city, said Julie Griffiths, CCALA regional director. A problem exacerbated by the fact that ADA codes are not readily available in languages other than English, she said.  Griffiths said that most businesses were being targeted for the lawsuits specifically because they were unlikely to have the money or resources to fight back in court.  Small business owner Bobby Vang agreed and spoke out against the loopholes in the law while wearing a shirt stating "ADA lawsuit abuse cost me $210,000."  Vang said his business, Asian Village Shopping Center in Fresno, was sued because the angles for his handicapped parking stalls were incorrect. When he repaved the lot to be ADA compliant, there was actually less room for handicapped parking, he said.  "My advice to Fresno business owners is to get informed, because no one is immune," he said.  White said the situation is unlikely to change unless the state legislature takes action. Currently, there are too many incentives for those filing ADA lawsuits, including awarding statutory fees and offering recovery of attorney fees to complainants, he said.  Small business owners said they would rather take care of the issue without going to court. Since most business owners are simply unaware of recent changes to the code, owners like Ky said she would prefer to see businesses given a warning so they can handle the problem themselves. "Give me some time to fix it. Just like a fix-it ticket you get for your car," she said. "Well, just give me 60 days for a minor issue, 120 days or something for a more major issue."
Written on 09/19/2014, 1:38 pm by ben
Business ebbed for Valley lodges in August, with revenues falling for the first time since March in the Fresno and Visalia areas.According to a monthly lodging report by STR, the average occupancy rate in the Fresno area stood at 63 percent in August. That's down slightly from 63.4 percent in July but above 62.1 percent in August 2013. The average daily rate for a room in the area fell from $84.73 in July to $84.62 in the latest month, still up from $81.11 last year. The supply of rooms remained unchanged at 317,440 in the month, but Fresno area lodges reported decreased revenues of $16.94 million in August compared to $17.05 million the prior month. Both are up from $16.07 million a year ago. Tulare/Visalia area lodges saw the average occupancy rate fall to 77.6 percent in August from 80.3 percent in July, still an increase from 75.4 percent last year. The area's average daily rate rose to $91.57 in the month compared to $90.60 in July and $89.17 a year ago. Like Fresno, the supply of rooms in the Tulare/Visalia area was also unchanged in the month at 167,555. Revenues decreased, however, going from $12.2 million in July to $11.91 million in August. That's up from $11.27 million in August 2013. Statewide, the average occupancy rate stood at 81.4 percent in August, down slightly from 81.5 percent in July but up from 79.4 percent a year ago. The average daily rate for a room in California increased to $155.20 in the month compared to $150.85 in July and $142.73 in August 2013. With a combined supply of just more than 15.64 million rooms in the month, lodges in the state reported revenues of around $1.98 billion in August, up from $1.92 billion the month before and $1.76 billion the year before.
Written on 09/19/2014, 1:36 pm by Business Journal staff
Ellis Enterprises of Fresno has restarted construction this month on its ninth apartment complex, building up a 5-acre site at the northwest corner of Willow and Alluvial avenues. Site work on the northeast Fresno property actually began near the end of 2008. But according to Patrick Ellis, a partner with Ellis Enterprises, the economic downturn prompted the company to delay the roughly $8 million project until now. "Apartments usually follow commercial and follow the market, and the market is coming around and the economy in general is picking up," Ellis said. When finished around May 2015, the complex will feature 65 living units as well as a pool, sauna and gym. Other amenities will include a recreation building, social room, game room, outdoor kitchen and patio area and tanning beds. Ellis Enterprises will provide its own management. Ellis said the design of the complex will match the old Spanish architecture from the company's Dominion Courtyard Villas at Champlain Drive and Shepherd Avenue in Fresno. Spencer Enterprises of Fresno also began building an apartment complex in the area earlier this year, with 160 units taking shape on a 10-acre site at the corner of Nees and Chestnut avenues a block away. Another, Chestnut Court Apartments, is at the corner of Shepherd and Chestnut avenues nearby. Patrick Ellis' father Scott Ellis founded Ellis Enterprises around 60 years ago. Since then, the company has grown to build and manage eight apartment complexes totaling 800 units in Fresno, Clovis and Visalia.
Written on 09/19/2014, 11:23 am by Business Journal staff
Discount clothing retailer dd's Discounts will open its newest store in Clovis Sept. 27. Located at 432 W. Shaw Ave., the 22,000 square-foot store will sell name brand and designer apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions at 20 to 60 percent off department store prices. A grand opening celebration will be held at the location beginning at 9 a.m. Sept. 27. Once open, the store's hours will be Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. It can be reached at (559) 324-8174. The store joins several other tenants in the Shaw Village Shopping Center at the corner of Shaw and Peach avenues, including Big Lots, Rent-A-Center and Hometown Buffet. A division of Ross Stores, dd's Discounts operates approximately 150 locations in 13 states, including 67 in California. According to a corporate spokesperson with the company, each new Ross store hires on average approximately 50 new permanent full-time and part-time associates. In the Central Valley, the company has three stores in Fresno, two in Visalia and one in Madera. The new location, the company's first in Clovis, is part of dd's Discounts is on schedule to complete its expansion plan to open around 20 locations in 2014.
Written on 09/18/2014, 9:30 am by Business Journal staff
Creating Prosperity in Fresno will host a town hall event to discuss the City of Fresno's General Plan Update on Monday, Sept. 22.  The event is open to the public and will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Bullard High School Theater at 5445 N. Palm Ave. Several city representatives will be available to answer any questions and concerns. Creating Prosperity is an independent, nonpartisan group of civic-minded business, education and nonprofit leaders. According to a press release, the group's mission is to engage, inform and inspire fiscally responsible public policy issues that will lead to more job creation in Fresno County.  Since its creation in 2013, the group has emphasized its desire to make Fresno County more business-friendly and streamline the planning and permit process for developers. This led the city to reevaluate its permit approval process and work with Creating Prosperity's leaders to make Fresno more appealing to developers. 
Written on 09/18/2014, 9:27 am by Business Journal staff
Following the sudden departure of Dr. Pete Menjares last week, the Fresno Pacific University Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Richard Kreigbaum as its newest president.Kriegbaum was formerly president of the university from 1985 to 1997 when it was known as Fresno Pacific College, coming on from Wheaton College in Illinois. After that, he continued to teach distance-learning classes through FPU's Office of Continuing Education and served as interim dean of the School of Business. Kriegbaum also spent eight years as CEO of United Way of Fresno County and has consulted with a  wide variety of nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education on leadership and organizational development. Kriegbaum's new position is effective immediately. He replaces Fresno Pacific's 11th president Dr. Pete Menjares, who held the title for little more than two years before announcing his resignation Sept. 11, citing a desire to be closer to family and explore new opportunities in Southern California. Kriegbaum has a bachelor's degree from Wheaton College, a master's degree from Ball State University in Indiana and a Ph.D. from State University of New York, Buffalo. He is the author of the book Leadership Prayers. He and his wife Peggie, a staff member in the FPU Office of Continuing Education, both attend Butler Church near the university's main campus in southeast Fresno. As Kriegbaum focuses on community relations and external duties, Provost Dr. Stephen Varvis will work with closely with him, adding the title of senior vice president to assume day-to-day operations of the main campus and regional centers. Before becoming provost in September 2012 to oversee academic programs and student life, Varvis served as FPU's first vice president for enrollment management. He has also been the university's director of business and civic relations in the Advancement Office, dean of the undergraduate college and a professor.
Written on 09/17/2014, 4:17 pm by Business Journal staff
Fresno staffing firm Spherion will hold a job fair at its office on Sept. 18 in honor of National Staffing Employee Week. The event will last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Spherion, located at 2006 N. Fine, Suite 101 in Fresno. The company is looking to fill around 100 positions. Available job openings include field coordinator positions in Madera, production staff positions (both temp and temp to hire), warehouse shipping and receiving positions, lab technicians and quality assurance. Those attending should bring resumes and be prepared to fill out an application with Spherion. National Staffing Employee Week is held Sept. 15-21 in honor of the contributions of America's temporary and contract employees.
Written on 09/17/2014, 11:49 am by Ben Keller
Fresno pasta maker Fiore Di Pasta is following the demand for gluten-free products as it expands its facility on Jensen Avenue. The company has been churning out pasta products like tortellinis, ravioli, manicotti, entrees and even sauces for the last 15 years from its nearly 23,000 square-foot processing plant at 4776 Jensen Ave. in southeast Fresno Now, Fiore Di Pasta is preparing for the future with a new 36,000 square-foot building being built by Valley Steel Construction of Fresno on the north side of its 4 1/2-acre property. When expansion is finished in early November, co-owner Anthony Primavera said he plans to use around two-thirds of the space for cold storage, consolidating everything the company is currently renting out at U.S. Cold Storage nearby or coming from its former facility on Church and Orange avenues that Fiore Di Pasta sold to Pressed Juicery in May. Another 10,000 to 15,000 square feet will be used for more manufacturing, he said, facilitating future growth and possibly making way for gluten free products. “There's a good demand for it,” Primavera said. “We do make some and we have a lot of requests for it.” Another part of the company’s growth is the launch of its own label dubbed Primavera Fine Foods that’s expected to come on line in the next few months. In addition to making products for private labels as the company’s done for years, Primavera is hoping the new name will finally put Fiore Di Pasta’s image out there, with plans to hit all the major retailers starting with West Coast stores.   “We’re also in the process of opening a retail store front (on Jensen Avenue),” Primavera said. He added that the expansion may also provide more job opportunities at the facility beyond the 60 to 70 workers there during peak season. Before Fiore Di Pasta, Primavera’s parents, Panfilo and Benedetta Primavera, founded Fresno Ravioli with business partners in 1979 using the traditions of their native lands of Abruzzo, Italy. In 1994, with the help of his wife and sons, Panfilo established Fiore Di Pasta—meaning “the best of pasta” in Italian—beginning with another facility on Marks and Dakota avenues. Although Panfilo passed away earlier this year at the age of 72, the company continues to grow under Anthony and his brother to now producing more than five millions pounds of pasta products each year.
Written on 09/17/2014, 11:28 am by Business Journal staff
Several Valley lawmakers were honored by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) for their voting record on behalf of America's small business owners.Based on the voting records in its "How Congress Voted" report card unveiled this week, the NFIB will present its Guardian of Small Business Award to 232 representatives of the 113th Congress. Those who voted favorably on 15 key small business issues at least 70 percent of the time were eligible for the award. Among them were Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) who voted with the NFIB 100 percent of the time. Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford), and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Granite Bay) also scored 100 percent in the NFIB's rankings. Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) didn't make the cut, however, only voting with the NFIB 44 percent of the time. In preparing its report card, the NFIB considered votes on key House and Senate legislation, including America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014 (H.R. 4457), Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act (H.R. 1120), Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2013 (H.R. 2655), Minimum Wage Increase (S. 2223) and Prevention of Taxing Carbon Emissions Amendment (S.Amdt. 261). "Small-business owners are very politically active—paying close attention to how their lawmakers vote on key business issues and stand by those who stand for them," said NFIB President and CEO Dan Danner.

Latest State News

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Latest National News

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