The News

Valley projects look to the sun for clean water

Following a full build out next year, developers of an unlikely system in the farming fields near Firebaugh are counting on desalination as a solution to California’s water shortage.
Unlike conventional desalination that uses an energy intensive process of reverse osmosis to remove salt and impurities, the Aqua4 technology by WaterFX relies on the sun’s rays to treat brackish groundwater.
Since June 2013, the company has been turning out fresh distilled water for the Panoche Water and Drainage District from its pilot test facility located along North Russell Avenue just west of Firebaugh.

Double whammy hits proposed Tulare cheese plant

Supporters of more economic development in Tulare suffered a set back in recent weeks as the start-up cheese maker CaliCheese, which expects to hire 200 employees, was hit by a double whammy.
About a month ago the president of the company, Jeff Lee, became ill with breathing problems while staying in Tulare County, was seen at Kaweah Delta and flown to a Los Angeles hospital where he later died. “It was a tragic irony on the eve of seeing his dream come true,” said Robert Moultrie, a friend and fellow investor in the project who will now be spearheading it

Startup offers mountain loop guided tours

Since launching more than a year ago, the Majestic Mountain Loop has captured the attention of tourism professionals and travelers worldwide with its itinerary of sights in Central California’s three national parks.
But up until now, the promotion created by the Visalia and Oakhurst visitors bureaus and the Fresno Yosemite International Airport has been without a concierge-level service that would shuttle large groups as experienced guides bring the destinations alive.  

Homegrown cinema membership model gains steam across state

What Netflix did for television, Oakhurst residents Matt Sconce and Keith Walker are doing for movie theaters and even converting some couch potatoes back to the cinema in the process.
More than a year ago, the longtime buddies succeeded in saving their beleaguered local theater by starting up a movie membership model that charges patrons a monthly subscription fee instead of the usual ticket price.

Vape expectations

Local e-cigarette industry grows; concerns deepen

Across the country, a growing number of tobacco users are turning to smoke-free alternatives like electronic cigarettes and vaporizers. What began as a grassroots trend in major cities has finally made its way to the Valley, where more than a dozen vapor shops have opened in the last few years.
In Fresno County alone, there are an estimated 164,000 adult smokers. For Valley “vape” shop owners, this represents a vast and relatively untapped market.
Gianni Raines, owner of Elite Vapor Shop, said he sold vapor pens and accessories online for two years before opening his store in a north Fresno shopping center nine months ago.
“There was nothing in this area when I moved in,” he said. “I saw a growing need.”

Brave new world of marketing Retailers track, bring deals direct to your mobile device

Hungry consumers shopping for the best food deals at their favorite restaurants can now do so on their mobile phone using search engines like LiveDeal and moGRUB.
moGRUB, is available for advertisers to sign up on and LiveDeal is preparing to provide its service in Fresno. Both are geolocation-based mobile marketing platforms.

Fresno Ideaworks seeks business collaborators

Last month’s Mini Maker Faire at the Fresno Art Museum and similar events in the past year didn’t happen by accident.
Instead, they sprung from a new community of builders and hobbyists working together to get their creations in the public eye or even sold with hopes of launching profitable enterprises.

Rail authority: 220 jobs created through preliminary work

With no rivets or rails yet in place, the state’s bullet train project is already bringing work for a number of small businesses helping the contractors get ready for the task ahead.
In the Central Valley, more than 20 locally operated businesses have agreements for services or supplies with Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons, the joint venture contracted last June to design and build the first 30-mile section of the system from Madera to Fresno.

Downtown mural a soon-to-be Fresno landmark

Look on the north wall of the Pacific Publishing building in downtown Fresno and you’re reminded of what makes the city what it is today.
Instead of the dull, aging bricks that stretched the length of the building as recently as six months ago, the country’s largest painted mural stamp by artist FranCisco Vargas now greets downtown visitors with iconic characters and landmarks of Fresno’s past and even future.

Kings County judge grants rail testing access

Last week, visiting Kings County Superior Court Judge Leslie Nichols sided with the California High Speed Rail Authority in a dispute with Kings County.
The county last year denied access to HSR engineers wanting to do soil testing at 58 sites along the proposed HSR route. An encroachment permit had been refused last summer, forcing the State of California to seek a court order to allow street access for its geotechnical testing.