The News

Visalia weighs new downtown hotel to lure conventions

This week the Visalia City Council has scheduled a closed-door negotiation with a Los Angeles hotel developer to build a new hotel near the Visalia Convention Center.
On the agenda is hotel developer Remo Pizzichemi, vice president of operations for The Welcome Group, based in Encino California. The company owns and operates a handful of hotels around the country including two in Sacramento. Their hotel brands vary from Hilton and Holiday Inn to Hampton Inn and others.

Fresno EOC celebrates gold anniversary

The Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission celebrated its 50th anniversary during a luncheon Tuesday at the Grand 1401 building in downtown Fresno.
Founded in 1965, the nonprofit agency is one of the largest of its kind in the country, employing more than 1,300 full- and part-time staff members who manage more than 30 community programs designed to fight poverty and assist the area’s underserved residents.

Visalia-based Edeniq engineering ethanol’s future

With oil currently trading around $50 per barrel, Brian Thome says 2015 is “going to be a very interesting year for ethanol.”
Thome is president and CEO of Edeniq, a Visalia-based company that just received $16 million from venture capitalists betting the company’s patented technology will help boost the biofuel’s future.

Locally owned gym chain adds location, services

Locally owned athletic club chain Sierra Sports Clubs has recently expanded to a fifth location and announced plans to add even more fitness services.
Owner Robert Mitchell recently purchased Centerpoint Athletic Club from former owner and manager Mark Geis. The acquisition will allow Geis to move to a more central position as director of corporate wellness and sales with Sierra Sports Clubs, and make Tina Naffziger the club’s new manager.

Property managers offer online payment solutions

In an increasingly online world, a recent report found almost 75 percent of households with Internet access pay at least one of their monthly bills electronically.
So when rent or homeowner’s association (HOA) payments are due, more and more property managers around the Central Valley are adopting electronic remittance systems that allow their tenants and members to pay online.

Gamel launches mobile app for car dealers

A new mobile app designed by former local RV salesman Dan Gamel launched last month and is already in use at dealerships throughout the state.
The program was recently picked up for beta testing with automotive software technology service company Data Consultants, and could potentially spread to dealerships throughout the country.

Fresno’s new parking vendor shifts into high gear

SP+ is now in the driver’s seat at 14 downtown Fresno parking facilities.
The Chicago-based company, operator of parking and shuttle concessions at a number of major airports and cities across the U.S., won a multi-year contract in late 2014 from the City of Fresno.

Hay, trailers a new target for rural thieves

Sheriff’s investigators had their hands full this fall responding to Valley hay thefts.
Now thieves have turned to stealing custom ag trailers. In some cases, the stolen trailers have been used to haul away stolen hay.
Most of the thefts occurred at night when fewer people are around to witness the theft.
Fighting the problem is difficult because the sheer size of the Central Valley agricultural area makes hay and ag equipment hard to watch all the time. Often the hay or trailer is stolen days before the farmer notices it gone and reports the crime.

Drones find applications in ag industry

Despite tight regulations surrounding commercial and private drone usage, one local ag insurance agent has begun offering clients a drone’s-eye-view of their farmland and plans to expand his services over the next few months.
Fowler-based C.D. Simonian Insurance agent Albert Rivera began offering aerial footage of crops and property captured by a drone to clients last year. He said he has seen a lot of interest and thinks the technology can help the ag industry with everything ranging from security and watering concerns to pest control and crop reports.

Sacramento Container expanding Kingsburg plant, adding 40 jobs

Inside the company’s cavernous manufacturing facility, it’s a beehive of activity: machinery is humming, multiple assembly lines are running and employees are working three shifts around the clock five days a week.
Orders for the custom corrugated containers SCC produces are so strong the company’s owner is spending $3.75 million to expand the Kingsburg facility, located at 909 Union in a building formerly used by Del Monte as a can storage warehouse.