The Focus

Bank beefs up cyber security as threat level rises

In the wake of a high-profile security breach, Fresno’s United Security Bank has adopted tighter security measures in hopes of protecting customers.

The move comes as the banking and retail industries focuses its attention to cyber security as more hacking incidents emerge compromising millions of customers.

United Security Bank agreed in June to pay $350,000 to Bakersfield oil company TRC Operating Co. to settle litigation stemming from a 2011 cyber fraud incident. Dennis Woods, president and CEO of United Security Bank, said the bank has taken on additional security measures to protect corporate customers that frequently use the online money-wiring system.

Restaurateurs ponder European-style service fee instead of tips

What if restaurants eliminated tipping in favor of charging patrons a flat service fee? 

That's a question some local restaurant-owners are pondering as a way of dealing with increasing minimum wage in California. 

“I'm very interested to see if anyone in the Fresno community has considered it or would be able to pull it off,” said Chris Mariscotti, owner of The Vineyard restaurant in Madera.

Event, competition promotes business plans, pitches

The City of Kingsburg will once again host a business plan contest with the winner receiving $25,000 worth of goods and services to help start a business.
It is the second year of The Launching Pad contest, which will culminate with three finalists pitching their business ideas to a panel of local judges during Kingsburg’s Swedish Festival on May 16, 2015.
Contestants have until Dec. 1 to fill out a short application for the contest. A panel will review the application and select up to five semi-finalists to receive help in preparing their own business plan. From there, three semi-finalists will be selected to pitch their business in front of a live audience May 16, with the winner announced that day.
Sherman Dix, a member of the Kingsburg Economic Development Committee, created the program.
Economic Development Coordinator Jolene Polyack said in a statement, “Sherman’s contest is perfect for Kingsburg.  We focus on fostering the small start-up businesses and this contest is a way to get the word out that we really do want those types of businesses here in Kingsburg.

How business owners can harness social media opportunities


In the digital age, social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook have begun replacing traditional marketing methods. The websites allow business owners to instantly connect with potential customers for free. But while advertising on social media is less complex, business leaders warn that it can be a double-edged sword.

Home automation more common in new homes

Walk into a new model home and you may be surprised by how much modern technology has changed the look and feel of even the most basic home features. From light dimmers, and thermostat control to locking the doors as you drive away from your house, many tasks can now be managed through your cell phone or mobile device.

Around the South Valley

Sequoia park visitation up 8 percent this year

The National Parks Service reports that August saw 180,619 visits to Sequoia National Park in August, an 11.25 percent increase over August 2013.Year to date visits are up 8 percent.  Overnight visits to Wuksachi Lodge on a year to date basis number 47,115 compared to 32,420 in 2013 — a 45-percent increase.

Sanger livestock genetics bank truly a global effort

A United Nations sponsored animal genetic research facility could open in Fresno County within the next two years. The non-profit conservation facility will house livestock breeds from more than 100 nations, bring world-class scientists to the area and offer training opportunities to local veterinarian students.

Fresno show shines spotlight on trucking industry

The Central Valley’s first trade show for heavy duty truckers was just as much about educating the industry as it was about showing off all the shiny new toys.
Taking place Sept. 6-7 at the Fresno Convention Center, the West American Truck Show featured some 60 exhibitors pitching everything from new tires, trucks and trailers to loans, insurance and logistics services.
Around eight of those companies were also lined up to recruit visitors with job opportunities, while other booths were offering information on emissions regulations, fuel efficiency and other trucking related topics.

Where to fin d that angel investor in the Valley

While many startups aspire to earning a big Silicon Valley venture capital deal, many are more likely to land an angel on their shoulder.
Angel investment is less formal than venture capital funding, said Tim Stearns, executive director of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. While venture capital firms are often backed by pension funds and other institutional investors, angel investors can be groups of people or even an individual.

Retail construction projects back on track in Fresno

While retail developments in north Fresno continue to offer residents a wide-range of dining and shopping options, developers are also looking to quench the thirst of south Fresno with mixed-use projects.
TFS Investments is behind the Fultonia and Fultonia West projects just south of the Tower District in Fresno. The company said it hopes to meet the growing need for safe, low-income housing in the neighborhood and bring vital businesses to the area.
Across town, Lance-Kashian and Co. is close to completing the first phase of the retail development near Fresno State. The Square is part of the larger Campus Pointe project that has already completed two out of three planned housing areas.