Weekly Issues

Local IT company acquired

Local information technology company Innovative I.T. has been acquired by San Luis Obispo-based TekTegrity.
“We’ve already been in the Central Valley for quite some time,” said Russ Levanway, TekTegrity CEO. “Merging the companies expands the organization’s talent pool and increases the services available to all clients.”
Innovative I.T. CEO Brian Horton said all of the company’s employees will be retained through the merger and leadership teams from both companies will be meeting with Innovative I.T. clients as the transition takes place over the next year.

Food Commons Fresno: Matchmaker of produce, people

Local nonprofit Food Commons Fresno has big plans for 2015 as the organization seeks to address the plight of neighborhood food deserts, protect farmland from commercial development and spur economic growth in previously neglected parts of town.
The organization is part of a pilot program currently being tested in Fresno and Atlanta, and is being led by investment advisers from around the country, including several from the Bay Area.

Welcome to water year 2015

A recent California Department of Water Resources report paints a grim picture for farmers dependent on underground water resources for farming, including production of the Valley’s highly valued almond crop.
It states that 350 new wells were installed in Fresno and Tulare counties during 2014 and the lack of consistent monitoring of the San Joaquin River and Tulare Lake basin resulted in a falling water table and ground subsidence. The report noted that 1.7 million acres of cropland has been fallowed in the Valley because of water shortages.

Biz owners readying for health mandate

Local small businesses are gearing up to meet a slew of new employer mandates this year, including the new health care law that took effect on Jan. 1.
Originally scheduled to go into effect last year, the mandate — requiring employers with more than 100 full-time employees to provide health insurance to a majority of workers — was postponed after the failed debut of the health care marketplace’s 2013 open enrollment period. Since the delay, many local chambers of commerce have been keeping an eye on what the new law means for their member businesses.

Law firms consider office space options

Since the latest recession, many law firms have grown more mindful when it comes to office space, realizing that every square foot represents a piece of their bottom line.
Because of the need for confidentiality and other special client accommodations, law firms have long required spacious offices offering each attorney their own work areas along with large conference rooms and opulent lobbies, all housed in towering Class A buildings in metropolitan centers with long-term leases.

Derrel’s newest Visalia location a decade in the making

With its 55th facility under construction in Visalia, Derrel’s Mini Storage of Fresno further cements its reputation as the largest self-storage company in the Central Valley.
Sited on 10 acres at the corner of Goshen Avenue and Demaree Street, the Visalia facility will encompass around 200,000 square feet of storage space.

Stephen Varvis

Screen Shot 2014 12 31 at 1.55.40 PMProvost/Senior Vice President, Professor of History

Fresno Pacific University

What we do: As a Regional Master’s Level University, Fresno Pacific University transforms people, families and communities through higher education that stresses solid academic preparation and a strong ethical foundation. The face of our student body is the face of the Valley—we are a Hispanic Serving Institution and are committed to offering opportunities to first-generation students. And we are successful! FPU has the highest four-year graduation rate of any Central Valley college or university, is one of the top 10 HSIs nationally in graduating Hispanic students and is ranked in the top tier of our category by U.S. News & World Report. We are also accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). For us, being the region’s only comprehensive Christian university is all about living out our tagline: “Empowering leaders. Transforming lives.”
Education: Ph.D. History, Claremont Graduate University
B.A. History and English, California State University, Fresno
Age: 57

Family: Teri (wife) who teaches in Clovis Unified, Nathan (son) a student.

Caren Myers

Screen Shot 2014 12 31 at 1.48.34 PMGeneral Manager

Fresno Lexus

What we do:  Lexus Sales and Service

Education:  Attended Nebraska Wesleyan University

Age:  69

Family:  Husband Bill, 6 Children, 12 Grandchildren and a Golden Retriever Gigit Myers.

How did you come to your position as General Manager at Fresno Lexus?
I had recently sold my Saturn dealership and was doing automotive consulting on an interim basis. RJ Romero, owner of Oremor Automotive Group, contacted me to interview for the Lexus general manager position in Fresno. This family-owned auto group based in Ontario, California is one of the most respected and successful in the automotive business. He owns several auto dealerships in Southern California and although each store operates independently, the standards are set at the very top level for professionalism, productivity, community involvement, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. It was the right opportunity at the right time for me and an honor to be selected to be part of this team.     

A rising tide in the Valley

While not the Mecca of software developers and innovators that made the Silicon Valley famous, the Central Valley fostered its own underground of ambitious and tech savvy entrepreneurs in 2014.
One company that attracted a lot of attention was Bitwise Industries. Since opening its first office at San Joaquin and L streets in downtown Fresno last summer, the group has provided a space for dozens of software developers to hone their coding and create useful products for the app-hungry community.

Casino closure leaves hundreds unemployed

Central Valley sports and entertainment isn’t a news category where much changes from year to year. But 2014 proved to be an outlier, and perhaps the year’s biggest stories involved the Valley’s entertainment landscape.
One of the year’s biggest stories is definitely the closure of Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold. The casino has been closed since the beginning of October when a group of armed men led by one of the tribe’s leadership factions violently stormed the casino complex in search of documents.