Weekly Issues

Michael Sigala

Michael Sigala


Sigala Inc.

What we do: 

Urban and regional planning, real estate economics and community development consulting for public, private and non-profit sector clients in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region  For example, we might help a city or developer determine feasible development options for senior housing, or serve as project manager for a planning effort across multiple jurisdictions.  

Industry cluster pushes clean-energy education for students

Coming together for the last several years to swap information and business advice, the San Joaquin Valley’s industry clusters are beginning to take a more active role in the region’s workforce development, starting with a helping hand to students interested in clean energy.

Since its inception, the Clean Energy Cluster, administered by Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED), has brought together more than 100 businesses to talk about solar power, biofuel, energy efficiency and other eco-minded commercial innovations.  

Planner: ‘Sustainability’ key word of Fresno’s future

Fresno is working toward becoming a greener, more sustainable city while finding ways to grow without breaking the bank.

It is a difficult challenge in tough economic times with limited funding sources for city improvement projects. Also, redevelopment project money is no longer available from the state.

So the city is more dependent on grants, utility company support and voter-approved measures for funding construction projects and energy-saving retrofits.

Around Town: Press Box, Milano partner on new Fresno eatery

Fresno-area restaurateur families the Ferdinandis and Millers will join forces to open a second Press Box Sports Grill in north Clovis on Oct. 1.

The 2,800 square-foot diner is located at 1785 Herndon Ave. in what was previously Pane Pronto, an eatery owned by the Ferdinandis' Milano Restaurants International.

Around the Valley: Hanford eyes safety tax

The Hanford City Council will hold a special meeting Oct. 29 to discuss implementing a sales tax measure to support public safety. Other Valley towns, including Visalia, have approved a similar addition to the sales tax by way of a vote. The city is preparing to welcome Costco to town — a huge sales tax generator expected to draw shoppers from out of town.

Fresno County distribution sector faces opportunities, challenges

Though lacking in industrial space, Fresno County is not short on benefits to developers and corporations prowling the state for a new delivery hub.


According to a recently released report by corporate locations consultant The Boyd Company of Princeton, N.J., the area is big on what large companies look for the most when siting a distribution center — cost savings.

The study compares 29 cities across the U.S. in terms of how much it would cost a corporation to operate a 500,000 square-foot distribution warehouse employing 175 workers.

Kings Co. blocking rail soil work

083013 TWO railThe Tulare County Board of Supervisors is being asked to approve a permit for California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) engineering contractors to do soil borings — geotechnical sampling — along county rights-of-way, mostly roads.
The work is already under way in Fresno County along the expected path of the proposed bullet train, part of the first 29-mile segment that appears closest to breaking ground.
A Tulare County staff report says that in Kern County, an application to do the same has been made from the Tulare/Kern county line south to near Bakersfield on what would be the third leg of the Central Valley 120 mile segment.
Kings County is a different story.

Jessica Smith Bobadilla

083013 Jessica-Smith-BobadillaNew American Legal Clinic


What we do:
The New American Legal Clinic (NALC) offers pro bono legal services to individuals in the San Joaquin Central Valley applying for legal permanent residency or citizenship in the United States. We also advise agriculture and other industries as to immigration consequences or options in various contexts as well as provide trainings on immigration law partnering with other community-based organizations and educational institutions.

To your health

083013 focus-rail

The majority of area small business owners plan to bypass the state’s health insurance exchange when it opens next month, according to an online poll conducted by The Business Journal earlier this month.
Sixty-one percent of respondents will not go to the Covered California exchange — created as part of the federal health care law — seeking coverage through its Small Business Health Options (SHOP) Program. Only 19 percent plan to use the exchange, while 20 percent are not sure either way.

Pacific Ethanol seeks granary partner for Madera plant

083013 MaderaplantThe Madera County Planning Commission has approved a tentative parcel map split requested by Pacific Ethanol in July allowing the sale of the granary next to the idle ethanol plant on Avenue 12 near Madera.
The granary has also been idled since the ethanol plant shut down in January 2009 after operating for less than three years. The whole acreage was a lumber mill that closed down in 1995.
In its parcel map application, Pacific Ethanol asked that the 137-acre parcel be split to allow the granary and the huge loop track that covers most of the property to be on one parcel and the 40-million-gallon ethanol plant on the other. Currently, a conveyor belt crosses the parcel. The train track infrastructure allows 100-car trains brimming with corn to be parked to unload at the feed mill. The granary will in turn feed the ethanol plant. But the granary units could do much more, the application says.