Weekly Issues

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.

A year of wins, losses on the political front

Throwing in some controversial measures, plans and an election year, it was a busy 2014 for government in the Central Valley.
Most recently the Fresno City Council passed a 2035 General Plan update that focuses more on infill development. The measure passed despite opposition from two members of the council as well as from local developers and even smart-growth proponents.

2014 Profiles in Review

As long as we are taking a look back at the year, here are some of the more colorful and insightful responses published as part of this year’s executive profiles.
— Editor Gabriel Dillard

Brick-and-mortar fruits of recovery

Several commercial, industrial and residential projects gained renewed momentum in 2014 as the Central Valley economy continued to recover from the recession.
One of the major commercial projects to pick up steam this year was The Square at Campus Pointe near Fresno State. The public-private partnership between California State University, Fresno Association and local developer Kashian Enterprises has been underway for nearly a decade, but it wasn't until this past February that construction crews broke ground on the retail portion of the mixed-use project.

Best Law Firm: McCormick Barstow LLP

Runners up: Dowling Aaron Inc.,
Baker Manock & Jensen

Just by numbers, no law firm based in the San Joaquin Valley comes close to McCormick Barstow.
With 91 attorneys working in 20 practice areas, the firm, founded in 1951 by attorney Chester Hansen, is the region’s leader in business and commercial litigation.
Several other attorney groups are also involved in employment law, taxation and estate planning and insurance coverage, among its numerous specialties.
And while the firm has been a stepping-stone for many to start their own firms or accept judgeships, the reputation left in their wake hasn’t wavered.
McCormick Barstow has more Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated attorneys than any other law firm in the San Joaquin Valley and the second highest percentage of attorneys in the state inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates, compared to similar size firms.
Additionally, the publishers of Law and Politics Magazine and San Francisco Magazine routinely select McCormick Barstow attorneys for inclusion in the Northern California Super Lawyers list.
“We take great pride in learning and understanding clients’ objectives and work to achieve those objectives to get the clients the best possible results consistent with the requirements and structures of the legal system,” said partner Timothy Buchanan.
The firm, which has offices in Fresno, Modesto, Cincinnati, Denver, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Seattle, is also known for its volunteerism, having supported dozens of local and national organizations over the years.

— Gabriel Dillard

Best Happy Hour: Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Runners up: The Elbow Room, Daily Grill

Ruth’s Chris Steak House was named the top business in the “Best Happy Hour” category by readers. The national restaurant chain is owned by Ruth’s Hospitality Group and while the first location opened in 1965, the Fresno location has only been open in the River Park shopping center since August 2008.

Best Bar to Entertain Clients / Best Restaurant for Conducting Business: The Elbow Room

Bar runners up: Five Restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Restaurant runners up: Daily Grill, Max’s Bistro

Sidle up to the bar at The Elbow Room and you are likely to see a who’s who of Fresno notables, including business owners, politicians and — when he still lived in town — Jerry Tarkanian.

Best Advertising Agency: JP Marketing

Runners up: Jeffrey Scott Agency, Catalyst Marketing

It was 20 years ago that Jane Olvera Quebe, an account manager at a small marketing firm, took on some faithful clients when the company folded and JP Marketing was formed.

Best Technology Company: BCT Consulting

Runners up: Bitwise Industries, J I.T. Outsource

In a way, BCT Consulting represents the long-term hope for a diversified economy.
BCT Consulting, founded in 1996, has grown into a nationally recognized technology company not from Silicon Valley, but the San Joaquin Valley. And while agriculture will always be the foundation of our economy, we can’t afford to miss the opportunities for growth in the tech sector.