– October 31, 2014

If restaurants raised prices 10% to pay for higher minimum wages, would you dine out less?


gordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

Latest Local News

Written on 10/31/2014, 5:08 pm by Business Journal staff
Entrepreneurs in the Central Valley will soon get additional support through a new program started up between the Lyles Center for Innovation and...
Written on 10/31/2014, 2:06 pm by Business Journal staff
The Sanger City Council voted this week to approve a project to widen and improve Academy Avenue between 11th Street and North Avenue. The city will receive nearly $2.9 million in Measure C funding and almost $2.3 million in federal funding for the project. Improvements will consist of partial widening, overlaying and reconstructing Academy Avenue, the primary arterial through Sanger, Construction is slated to begin in June 2016 after engineering and right-of-way work is completed. "Academy Avenue is the southeast transportation corridor ferrying residents and commerce through Sanger," said Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell in a release. "This section of Academy is the last remaining segment to be improved. Getting to this point required the creativity and hard work of a number of people interested in the future of Sanger and Fresno County." A project to reconstruct and widen Academy Avenue from Church Avenue to 11th Street was completed in 2012 using $4 million in Measure C money.
Written on 10/31/2014, 1:39 pm by Business Journal staff
Produce container company IFCO Systems will rejoin the Fresno community Nov. 5 with the grand opening of its new 204,000 square-foot warehouse on Elm Avenue. The Tampa, Florida-based supplier of reusable plastic containers and pallets operated in Fresno once before. Now, the company is capitalizing on the growth of the Central Valley's fresh food sector with a newly leased facility at 2855 S. Elm Ave. in south Fresno. The Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County will be helping the company celebrate the new location with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 5 at 2:30 p.m. That will be followed by a tour of its service center at 3 p.m. and a cocktail reception at 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public but those interested in attending should make reservations by sending an email to With more than 180 million reusable plastic containers in circulation and more than 210 location worldwide, IFCO Systems is the leading provider of reusable plastic containers to the fresh food sector worldwide. Established around 20 years ago, IFCO Systems is owned by supply-chain logistics company Brambles Limited based in Sydney, Australia.
Written on 10/31/2014, 11:14 am by Business Journal staff
Fresno County will receive special recognition Tuesday for having the lowest error rate in the state for payments under the CalFresh food assistance program. In fiscal 2013, Fresno County had an error rate of 0.34, lowest in the state and well below the state's average error rate of 3.63 percent. An award will be presented to the Department of Social Services at the next Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting Nov. 4. The Food Stamp Act of 1977 requires a payment accuracy measurement to ensure the proper spending of federal funds on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is known as CalFresh in California. Between April and June this year, 96,161 Fresno County households participated in the program, helping feed some 230,299 individual participants. The average amount of CalFresh benefits received per household in the state is about $200 per month. Delfino Neira, director of Fresno County's Department of Social Services, said in a statement: "This award is in recognition of DSS’ ongoing professional excellence in accuracy and service. I would like to recognize our management team for their support and the hard working county staff who daily ensure accuracy and customer service.” Fresno County previously received the reward in fiscal 2009.
Written on 10/31/2014, 10:40 am by Business Journal staff
The Fresno Regional Foundation has awarded $600,000 to four organizations supporting children aged 0 to 8 and their families for success by third grade. The focus on children in that age group stems from the fact that 60 percent of Valley children are not reading at grade level by third grade, leaving them more likely to drop out of high school, according to the Fresno Regional Foundation. The following four community-benefit organization received the following "High Impact" grants: Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County: $200,000 for Family Literacy Project 2.0- the Pathway to Reading Through this grant Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno is serving children K-3rd grade and their families for achievement in reading at grade level by 3rd grade. Three hundred children and 80 parents in southwest, central, and southeast Fresno will be served thanks to a partnership between Boy & Girls Club of Fresno County, Reading and Beyond and Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE). Reading and Beyond: $200,000 for Family Navigators. Through this grant Reading and Beyond is supporting the Birth to 3rd Grade portion of our Promise Neighborhood (PN) cradle-to-career pipeline, specifically supporting the expansion of the Family Navigators (or Promotoras) approach and providing capacity-building on the use of Reading and Beyond’s longitudinal database management system among partners. Woodlake Family Resource Center: $150,000 Through the Path to Literacy grant the Woodlake Family Resource Center along with its Consortium Partners is working to align services, close gaps, and remove barriers to children's success in those early critical years leading up to and through third grade. Fresno Area Strive/Fresno Compact: $50,000 Through Fresno Area Strive 0-8 Success grant the Fresno Area Strive is convening and coordinating with Fresno metro school districts and community partners to improve third grade literacy levels by connecting multiple local 0-8 educational initiatives.   “Supporting families and children 0 - 8 for success by 3rd grade is a way to help families carve a pathway out of poverty, ultimately benefitting the whole Valley.  As a board member, I am very impressed by the deliberative, focused process that is utilized to select the organizations to receive funding,” said Celia Maldonado Arroyo, Board member and High Impact Advisory Committee member in a statement.
Written on 10/31/2014, 9:44 am by Business Journal staff
Kaiser Permanente Fresno Medical Center has retained its top grade  of "A" for patient safety in Leapfrog Group's bi-annual safety report. In May, Kaiser Permemante Fresno also earned an "A" grade from the group.  Scores are awarded based on the latest publicly reported data available on patient injuries, medical and medication errors and infections at hospitals throughout the country. This is the third year the nonprofit has issued Hospital Safety Scores.  "We are proud to be recognized as one of the top hospitals for patient safety once again," said Jeff Collins, Kaiser Permanente Fresno's senior vice president and area manager, in a prepared statement. "These scores truly reflect the world-class treatment being provided to our patients." In addition to Kaiser Permanente Fresno, 16 other Kaiser Permanente Northern California facilities were awarded "A" grades includingg those in Sacramento and Modesto.  Leapfrog Group uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to determine letter grades from A to F for hospital safety ratings. The group is a coalition of public and private purchasers of employee heath coverage and was founded in 2000.  To see more hospital scores and how they compare locally and nationally, visit 
Written on 10/30/2014, 5:02 pm by Business Journal staff
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced that bond rating agency Fitch Ratings revised the city's credit rating outlook from negative to stable. “This is just more proof that the tough choices we've made to pay off our debt, begin to build our reserves and stabilize our labor contracts were not only the right things to do, but also a smart strategy for improving the city's credit outlook," said Swearengin in a release. "However, we know that our future success depends on maintaining fiscal prudence so that Fresno can continue its recovery and build a strong, vibrant platform for a growing economy." According to Fitch’s, the change in outlook reflects the recent positive news in Fresno's economy, as well as the City of Fresno’s improved financial performance. The stable outlook also reflects Fitch’s expectation that the City of Fresno will continue its commitment to balance its budgets and rebuild its reserves. Fitch Ratings also affirmed the city's outstanding BBB+/BBB/BBB- bond ratings. Last month, Moody's Investors Service also revised its outlook on the City of Fresno's long-term ratings from stable to positive.
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:15 pm by Business Journal staff
Clovis was named the top city in Northern California for young families while Sanger took the top 14 spot, according to a new list by personal finance site NerdWallet. NerdWallet considered such factors like public school excellence, home affordability and growth and prosperity when compiling its Best Cities for Young Families in Northern California list. Of the 138 cities evaluated, Clovis was the No. 1 pick with an overall score of 68.07. The rating had a lot to do with Clovis schools, which made up 40 percent of the score. GreatSchools gave Clovis area schools a rating of 8 out of 10, while the city's high schools achieved a graduation rate of 92.6 percent for the 2011-2012 year compared to the statewide graduation rate of 78.5 percent. Clovis also excelled economically. Accounting for 30 percent of the overall score, the city's median income grew 51.32 percent from 1999 to 2012 to $63,983. Median home values, making up 15 percent of the score, were reasonable as well at $259,000 in 2012, while another 15 percent was in median monthly homeownership costs standing at $1,981 that year. Clovis was also praised for its 285 acres of parks and trails, proximity to three national parks and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and family-friendly activities like Friday night farmer's markets in the summer, Big Hat Days in April. At No. 14 on the list, Sanger achieved an overall score of 59.67. The score took into account a GreatSchools rating of 7 out of 10 and a 2012 median income $40,761, which is 27.09 percent higher than 1999. Sanger residents also enjoyed median home values of $162,300 in 2012 and median monthly homeownership costs of $1,508. While not cracking the top 20, other cities included in the list were Reedley at 49, Chowchilla at 56, Fresno at 66 and Dinuba at 101.
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:05 pm by Business Journal staff
The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce will host a financial and technology workshop for businesses at the Tulare Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 6.  The Financially Ready, Internet Smart and Technology Savvy (F.I.T.) event is free and will be held from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at 220 E. Tulare Ave. in Tulare. The workshop is the third installment in the F.I.T. series and will focus on helping small, diverse and minority businesses improve their marketing techniques.  During the workshop, information and resources will be provided to help entrepreneurs and small business owners learn how to prepare financially and technologically.  For more information on the workshop series or to register visit or contact Chasitie Neal at (559) 441-7929. 
Written on 10/30/2014, 10:36 am by Business Journal staff
A few months after launching a revamped website, the Madera County Economic Development Commission has become even more user friendly with a new mobile app to help businesses and travelers find information about the county. With the app, which is free on iTunes, Google Play and the Windows Phone store, users can find available commercial and industrial properties in Madera County. There is also information on county demographics, tourist attractions, economic incentives, community highlights and contacts for local resources. The app, which received a four-star rating from Google Play users, targets site selectors, real estate brokers, business managers and owners, entrepreneurs and the general public to learn all the perks of living and working in Madera County. "This app carries our message to a new platform and being the first EDC in the state to offer an app shows that we are very aggressive in trying to reach all target audiences," said Bobby Kahn, Executive Director, Madera County EDC, in a release. “We want to be accessible and available on all web driven platforms including social media, mobile devices and website." The Madera County EDC App can be downloaded at the following links: • iTunes:• Google Play:• Windows Phone: The MCEDC is tasked with recruiting companies to the county and helping existing ones expand by connecting them with labor, financial incentives and available properties in the county.

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