Weekly Issues

Texas native becomes Fresno brand ambassador

Alice Simons is on a mission to get the Internet community outdoors again.
As one of 14 new brand ambassadors chosen from across the globe last month by social media site At The Pool, the organic rancher from Reedley is the Fresno area’s new point person when it comes to connecting folks over common interests and organizing activities that longtime residents and newcomers can enjoy.

Darren Gold

What we do:  We provide post-secondary, career-oriented education and training to prepare adults for successful careers.  By doing so, we help transform the lives of our students, their families, and the communities we serve.  

Education: BA, Political Science & History, UCLA; JD, University of Michigan Law School

Age:  44    

Family:  Wife, three children (ages 14, 12, and 8)

Tell us a little about your career path to your current position.  
I spent a brief amount of time practicing law before transitioning to a career in business, beginning as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co. in Los Angeles.  I moved to northern California in 2000 to join a San Francisco based private equity firm, where I invested in privately held businesses, serving on the boards of those companies, and helping the businesses improve and grow.  In 2011, I began to focus on investing in the education sector and served on the boards of companies serving both the K-12 and college markets.  In early 2012, I stepped in to serve as the CEO of a large career college based in Virginia, which ultimately led to my current role leading Heald College beginning in the fall of 2013.  

Distilling spirit

Valley producers find a market in the hard (good) stuff

Craft distilleries have expanded Central Valley liquor manufacturing from production of red and white wines to spirits like whisky, rum, gin, vodka, brandy and some unique versions of classic Latin drinks.
It is part of the latest wave in production of small-batch distilled drinks sweeping the nation. “It’s part of a renaissance that includes beer, wine, bread and even gardening,” said Bill Owens, founder and president of American Distilling Institute in Hayward, which promotes craft distilleries. “People want to be part of their home grown community.”

Fresno Food Expo moved to July

Planners and participants in the 2014 Fresno Food Expo gathered at Fowler Packing in south Fresno Tuesday to encourage participation in what is expected to be a larger event with the move to July 24.
Previously, the expo was held in the spring and although processed foods were in good supply, locally grown fruits and vegetables were limited by the season. This year’s event promises to provide potential buyers with plenty of ripe summer fruits and vegetables, new packaging, juices, wines, beef and dairy products.

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.

Michelle Mastro

Michelle MastroExecutive Director
Valley Caregiver Resource Center

What we do:    
Valley Caregiver Resource Center and its affiliated programs, Caregiver Resource, OASIS, PALS, Ombudsman & HICAP, offer a comprehensive array of services designed to assist elders and their families master the challenges that accompany the aging process. As long-standing advocates and collaborators in preserving the health and quality of life of others, our aim is to promote personal and community well being. VCRC connects the over-looked with what they need most in life.

Banks report record profits in ‘13

Central Valley banks that have reported fourth quarter and year-end 2013 earnings so far had a good year. Most had record net income numbers.

Central Valley Community Bank
Central Valley Community Bancorp, parent company of Fresno's Central Valley Community Bank, reported 2013 net income of $8.25 million, or 77 cents per share — up nearly 10 percent from 2012.

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.