The News

Drought has nut producers on guard

Despite recent rains, drought conditions continue in the San Joaquin Valley where lack of water deliveries could slow production of two major cash crops — walnuts and almonds — at a time of unprecedented demand.

Bank of the Sierra making moves in ‘14

At about 10,000 feet in elevation, Farewell Gap is a commanding feature of the Mineral King valley of Sequoia National Park.
To get there means hiking six miles (counting switchbacks), with an elevation increase of more than 2,000 feet.

Beauty pageant winner buys longtime flower shop

Abeauty pageant veteran, Prisca Shiralian knows the stress of memorizing choreography, coordinating outfits and performing in front of thousands of people.
But Shiralian has decided to take on a new stressor — buying a retail flower business right before Valentine’s Day.

As ESOPs grow, Valley firms pull out of employee ownership

While many business owners have turned to bonuses and benefits to boost productivity, others have continued to foster a more vested interest by giving workers a stake in the profits.
Employee ownership has increased steadily since the onset of the recession. In 2008, around 10,100 companies throughout the U.S. contributed shares toward their employees through special retirement accounts known as Employee Stock Ownership Plans.

60-year-old Fresno market shutting its doors

A long-time fixture in Fresno, Ronnie’s Midway Market on 7091 N. Blackstone Ave. is planning to close down at the end of January.
The market has been serving area customers since 1953.
The sputtering economy and increased competition from other larger stores has forced the owners to call it quits. “With Walmart, 99 Cents Only and Target carrying groceries, there is just too much competition,” said Jon Asadoor, who with his brother Steve has run the store for the past 30 years.

Farmers: Drought declaration a start; fallout remains to be seen

Continuing drought conditions in California will mean fewer crop acres and lost farm revenue in the Central Valley.
In light of the losses, area water districts and the farmers they serve are glad that Gov. Jerry Brown recently issued an emergency drought declaration designed to conserve water and hopefully make more water available to agriculture.
They see it as a positive start in addressing the crisis.

Tourism event to highlight spending

While planning its second annual State of Tourism Luncheon, the Fresno/Clovis Convention and Visitors Bureau wanted to tell a story.
The story, told by FCCVB staff and partners, is of Fresno County’s culture, entertainment, history and farming heritage, all packed into a few hours on January 28 at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center.

Tulare OKs extension for $250M cheese plant

Startup firm CaliCheese Co. said it is steps closer to building a new 300,000 square-foot cheese plant on land owned by the City of Tulare, but needs more time to complete all financing arraignments.
The Tulare City Council Tuesday gave CaliCheese until June 30 to complete the purchase of the 60-acre site, granting an extension to the original Jan. 15 deadline.

Fresno’s WET-incubated companies raised $7M last year

One of the region’s best-known hubs for business startup assistance, the Central Valley Business Incubator has recently assumed a new title with a revamped mission focused on helping entrepreneurs in the water and energy sector.
Since its establishment in 1996, the Fresno-based organization has been providing startup and expanding companies with business consultation, education, access to capital and even office space to help them make their ventures profitable.

Economist: Fuel prices down, wealth up in ’14, beyond

Wells Fargo economist Gary Schlossberg spoke at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Fresno on Monday to give his assessment of what businesses can expect in the year ahead.
Rotary members look forward to the talk every year as Schlossberg, senior economist with Wells Capital Management in San Francisco, comes out each January to recap recent strides in the economy and offer predictions.