Weekly Issues

Experts: Valley groundwater banking needs boost

Area water experts seem to agree that the best way to ensure a stable water supply for the Valley is to grab as much as possible during wet, flood-prone years and then store it in large underground aquifers throughout the region.
That means building new reservoirs or enlarging the ones in use in order to catch more water. And it means percolating as much water into the ground during wet years as what is being taken out in dry periods like we are currently experiencing.

Market ‘reboot’ fortifies multifamily housing interest

Concern about rising interest rates and reductions in pricing have fortified interest in Fresno-area multifamily housing, including apartments, hotel room rentals and condos.
“Interest rates rising creates a sense of urgency,” said Robin Kane, founder of RCK Organization and senior vice president of Hendricks & Partners in Fresno. “The market is still good. The rise in interest rates is net positive.”

Valley peaches, nectarines flown to Australia

California peaches and nectarines can now be shipped into Australia, thanks to efforts by HMC Farms of Kingsburg and the California Grape & Tree Fruit League.
HMC Farms, a major peach, nectarine and plum grower-shipper, was the first to take advantage of the export program to the “Land Down Under.” Other area growers recently began shipping to Australia including Sun Valley Packing of Reedley, Warmerdam Packing of Hanford and WesPak /Rivermaid Trading Co. of Dinuba and Lodi.

Tony Cabrera

Area Manager
Bank of the Sierra

What we do:  
Bank of the Sierra is passionate about helping the people of the Central Valley. As a full-service bank, we offer a wide variety of competitive products and services including commercial loans, ag loans, checking and savings accounts; but our purpose and passion goes much further than that. We strive to reinvest in our customers and communities. Our Sierra Grant program gives local non-profit organizations $100,000 annually and our employees log many volunteer hours. We believe this ongoing commitment to the people of our valley is what community banking is all about.

Education:
Fresno State

Age:
38

Family:  
I been married to my very supportive wife Michele for 8 years and we have a wonderful son and daughter.

What brought you to the Fresno area?  
I moved to the Fresno area in 1993 from Manteca (San Joaquin County) to attend Fresno State.

Piccadilly hotels bounce back from bankruptcy, update image

It’s been more than two years since financial hardship broke up one of Fresno’s most recognized hotel enterprises and sent three of its properties into foreclosure.
Now under new owners, the Piccadilly Inn brand has bounced back from bankruptcy and updated its 1970s-era image.

The Business Journal returns to KMJ Mondays

Dear readers,
The Business Journal is once again partnering with KMJ (580 AM) to bring our leading business news and information to the radio airwaves.
Starting Monday, KMJ will begin airing “The Business Journal Live” at 6:52 a.m., when I will speak live about the week’s biggest stories from our Friday print edition and website. It will be a weekly feature every Monday at 6:52 a.m. during the station’s prime morning-drive hours.

Fresno County striving to save cash with wage cuts

John-Navarrette1John Navarrette, Fresno County chief administrative officer, told the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Council Wednesday that savings from reductions in employee salaries would mean better service for consumers and a gradual restoration of the county workforce.

Energy efficiency program extended to Fresno businesses

For several years now, the City of Fresno has been providing home energy assessments and upgrades for its residents in an effort to shave money off their utility bills.
Now, it’s extending those same services to businesses within the city as it expands a program with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to carry out lighting upgrades, more efficient ventilation systems and other building improvements.

Hot market drives demand for empty lots

As the home market slowly rebounds, properties zoned for residential construction are getting a lot of attention in the Fresno-Clovis area, real estate agents and brokers report.
They point out that demand for vacant residential lots is much greater than demand for vacant retail, office and industrial properties.

The Amazon

Valley could see boost from same-day shipping trend

There is certainly one big thing brick-and-mortar retail has over shopping online — you can take the purchase home with you right now.
Now firms like Amazon, Walmart and others are investing billions of dollars to offer a higher level of service to Internet customers — same-day delivery that feeds our basic need for instant gratification.
That, in turn, drives the number, technology and location of warehouse distribution centers that companies are building closer to big population centers.
California industrial park developer Pat Daniels of MSJ Partners, who has been marketing a 150-acre site in the Visalia Industrial Park, said the “Amazon Effect” is real and offers “both challenges and opportunities for Visalia.”
Daniels anticipates a future where more of our basic needs are served via the Web.
“We see Internet sales of products going from about 2 percent today to 25 percent in the next 15 years,” Daniels said.
That includes new trends like shopping for groceries online — a category where instant gratification is already the standard.
Daniels said the term comes from supply chain consultant Jim Thompkins, who projects uber-retailer Amazon adding 44 million square feet of fulfillment space through 2016. The company sells 35 million different items.
Like many trends, the Amazon Effect started in California. After nationwide pressure over tax fairness succeeded, Amazon agreed to start collecting sales tax on purchases made through their site in this state last September. With resolution of the sales tax issue in California, Amazon wasted no time and has now built or is building almost four million square feet of distribution centers  — two on the edge of the Bay Area and two in Southern California.
Prior to this, Amazon sited its fulfillment centers in low-cost, far away places, including Nevada and Arizona.
While the state and Amazon were at loggerheads over the tax issue, local developers felt they were getting the shaft.
“We lost a lot of business before the tax agreement,” said John Brelsford, Fresno industrial developer, who said the myriad of companies that supply Amazon “set up away from California to avoid the taxes.” But now they are coming back to the state. He counts 14 such companies.
“Our fourth quarter of 2012 was the best we’ve had in five years,” said Brelsford, whose Fresno-based Diversified Development has sprawling warehouse industrial parks in Fresno and Visalia.
Last October, Amazon opened its first fulfillment center in California in San Bernardino, employing 700. The company is also building a site in Patterson that is expected to open in late summer. Amazon also announced a new fulfillment center in Tracy that Brelsford said “has 1 million square feet and a 1 million square-foot mezzanine.” Now there are reports the big Internet seller will locate its fourth California distribution center in Rialto in the Inland Empire.
For Amazon, the goal is not to just compete with rivals on price but on how quick you can supply the purchase.
The trend is not lost on existing retailers such Macy’s that now are investing in ship-to-store capability — taking online orders and routing them to local stores. Customers can either pick up their purchase from the store or have it delivered to them.
Daniels expects Amazon to get into groceries, where quick transactions are required. They are already doing it in the Seattle area.   
Daniels added that Visalia — some 190 miles from Los Angeles and 230 miles from San Francisco — can supply both areas from one location but may be at a disadvantage for same-day service.
Brelsford said he sees the Amazon Effect offering smaller companies with less than a million square feet of distribution space a chance to supply the state from Fresno or Visalia.
Competition from city-edge places like Patterson and Tejon Ranch may have a small advantage a few hours closer to the dense population centers. Tejon, at the foot of the Grapevine, landed a Dollar General center, Caterpillar, Camping World and IKIA. A nearby logistics park in Shafter, owned by billionaire Stewart Resnick, is a tough competitor and recently added a new 1.7 million square-foot Ross Stores distribution center and 1,500 jobs.
But Daniels sees Visalia as a place that can offer a statewide location to resupply the edge-city centers with the heavy presence of both FedEx and UPS.