Weekly Issues

Connections rule at Fresno Food Expo

The organizers of this year’s Fresno Food Expo are celebrating the 5th anniversary of the event with an acknowledgement of the connections forged there throughout the years.
To illustrate that point, the City of Fresno, which hosts the expo each year, held a bus tour Tuesday for local media and other officials to hear from business owners who have made key connections at the event, which runs July 22-23 at the Fresno Convention Center New Exhibit Hall.

Walmart opening new Fresno supercenter January 21

More than a year after initial renovations began on the building, Walmart is finally ready to open the doors of its latest store in Fresno.
The Walmart on Ashlan and Blackstone avenues will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 21.
Since Mervyns closed in 2008, the 107,000-square-foot space has remained vacant, and Petco and Ideal Furniture Gallery had anchored the shopping center in central Fresno. Now, Walmart is expected to draw customers from all over the neighborhood and increase business in the area.  

Senior facilities prep for ‘silver tsunami of baby boomers’

Local senior housing groups and retirement homes are busy making plans to meet increased market demand as the baby boomer generation quickly approaches the 65 and older age designation.
“The silver tsunami of baby boomers is coming and we want to be ready for it,” said Jessica Lopez, executive director with The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens in Fresno.

Robert H. McKellar

Screen Shot 2015 01 16 at 4.11.01 PMChief Executive Officer

McKellar Agricultural Group

What we do:
When asked, my favorite answer is “we raise citrus and people.” We do raise oranges and mandarins (Cuties) and we are involved in several forms of agritourism.

Education:
I graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, with a double major in animal husbandry and ag journalism. My degree is in animal husbandry.

Age:
83

Family:
My wife Ann Shidler Mehrten McKellar, daughters Shawn Hodges, Kerin McKellar Terri Jeske and sons Mark and Craig McKellar.

NEO evolves to connect Fresno County employers, workers

Fresno County is ready to make a big marketing push for its New Employment Opportunities (NEO) program that subsidizes the cost of certain new hires for businesses in the county.
The Economic Development Corp. serving Fresno County is the organization tasked with marketing the program, which is funded with $9 million through the Fresno County Department of Social Services.
While the latest iteration of the program kicked off in April 2014, the program traces its roots to 2011, when it was developed in wake of another wage-subsidy effort — the 80/20 Program.

Zachary D. Darrah

Screen Shot 2015 01 09 at 2.08.24 PMExecutive Director

Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries (FIRM)

What we do:  FIRM serves the refugee population in Fresno through working towards our mission of “Sharing Christ’s love to build communities of hope with new Americans.” This includes such things as mental health services, community gardens, youth programs, early childhood education programs, workforce development, health care access work, advocacy and much more! We seek to meet the needs of the refugee community both on a physical and spiritual level.

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.