The Focus

Madera County tourism funding bolstered by tax renewal

Beginning in January, the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau in Oakhurst will kick off another ten years as one of several organizations in the Central Valley promoting tourism with funds generated by local lodges.

Obamacare rules put 600 Visalia jobs at risk

Visalia city officials traveled to Washington last week to urge lawmakers to support special legislation that could save about 700 jobs at the Visalia Cigna call center.
Visalia City Manager Mike Olmos, Councilman Bob Link and county Supervisor Steve Worthley and others bent the ears of Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to support a waiver of rules under the Affordable Care Act.

AB 69 aimed at impending gas sticker shock

Assemblymember Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) was in town last week warning business leaders about impending sticker shock at gas pumps next year.
Perea's Assembly Bill 69, which would delay the fuel industry's inclusion into the state's cap-and-trade program until 2018, took top billing along with the water bond during his first appearance as part of the Fresno Chamber's Eggs & Issues breakfasts.

Air district program grants $7.2M for technology projects

Local innovations are showing promise in alleviating the Central Valley’s air problem since being bolstered with funding from the Technology Advancement Program.
Launched by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in 2010, the program relies on locally generated funds and support from the Environmental Protection Agency to reimburse projects or inventions that focus on renewable energy, waste treatment or minimizing pollution from vehicles and other mobile sources.

Contractor donates $300K to Community Regional Medical Center

Local contractor Quiring General has pledged $300,000 to help Community Regional Medical Center pay for needed surgical department renovations.
The gift helps pay for renovations including new LED lighting, new equipment booms with electrical outlets to keep cords off the floor, surgical vacuums and updated electrical wiring.
Community Regional's central surgical suites are among the oldest rooms in the hospital, and 11 operating rooms needed the upgrade.

Expert: Valley cover crops could fuel biomass generation

During a recent presentation by Stephen Kaffka an extension agronomist at UC Davis, Kaffka addressed the question, “does California have in-state feedstock production for bioenergy?”
The short answer is that it does, but only a fraction is now going to biofuel use.

Fresno County grasps for more agritourism dollars

Agritourism has helped highlight the Valley’s farm and tourist industries, but its full revenue potential has yet to be fully harvested.
To provide a greater push for agritourism and traveler visits to the Valley, the state’s CA Grown and Visit California programs have partnered to promote agritourism in the state. The cornerstone of the campaign is a media program with national publication Food & Wine to highlight the seasonality, diversity and uniqueness of Californian grown specialty crop products.

Architects support tax credit bill for historic preservation

Restoration and renovation of historic buildings and structures can be costly, even with modern-day solutions to fixing floors, walls and ceilings.
So builders seek money-saving incentives from the state to cushion the blow of high price tags for bringing back beautiful buildings that are historical to the San Joaquin Valley. State Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, has responded with Assembly Bill 1999 that would offer a 25 percent tax credit for most renovations of registered historic buildings.

Experts: Farm equipment manufacturing needs a boost

The San Joaquin Valley stands unparalleled for its crop production.
At the same time, its manufacture of farm related goods — including harvest and tilling equipment — has plenty of room to grow.
The Valley has numerous farm equipment sales offices, but is somewhat limited in terms of farm equipment manufacturing capability. Much of that production is done at other U.S. locations.

Employment legislation; forecasting the drought

Today is the state Legislature’s deadline for bills to pass the house in which they were introduced. A number of “job killer” bills — as designated by the California Chamber of Commerce — are in contention. And one local legislator has taken aim at the rules governing professional licensing.