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– April 19, 2014

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Latest Local News

Written on 04/18/2014, 2:04 pm by Business Journal staff
Fresno County's unemployment rate for March was 13.8 percent, with the professional and business services sector posting the largest year-over-year jobs...
Written on 04/18/2014, 11:26 am by Business Journal staff
United Security Bancshares, parent of Fresno-based United Security Bank, announced net income of $908,000 for the first quarter, down from $1.075 million for the same quarter in 2013. Annualized return on average equity for the three months ended March 31 was 4.77 percent, compared to 6.20 percent for the same period last year. Annualized return on average assets was 0.55 percent for the three months ended March 31, compared to 0.68 percent last year. On a year to date comparative basis, changes in income were the result of an increase of $722,000 in non-interest expense, partially offset by a $148,000 decrease in interest expense, an increase of $198,000 in non-interest income, and a $57,000 increase in total interest income. Dennis R. Woods, president and CEO, stated: "We continue to see improving trends with growth in loan demand, positive net earnings, increased capital, and reductions in non-performing assets. During the first quarter of 2014, we have grown our loan portfolio by $16.4 million and look forward to strengthening our core earnings during the remainder of 2014." Shareholders' equity at March 31, 2014 was $77,440,000, up $897,000 from shareholders' equity of $76,543,000 at December 31, 2013."
Written on 04/18/2014, 11:12 am by gabrieldillard
Sierra Bancorp, parent company of Porterville's Bank of the Sierra, announced a regular quarterly cash dividend of 8 cents per share to be paid on May 15. The dividend will be paid to shareholders of record as of May 1. Bank of the Sierra has paid regular cash dividends to shareholders every year since 1987. The dividend reflects "capital strength, robust net income, and a favorable trend in nonperforming assets" for the quarter ended March 31, according to a news release.
Written on 04/18/2014, 9:40 am by Business Journal staff
Fresno developer and property manager Lance-Kashian & Co. has earned LEED Platinum certification for the second time for the Offices at Palm Crossing in north Fresno. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, established by the U.S. Green Building Council in 1998, recognizes buildings with features that reduce energy consumption, offset waste and accomplish other eco-minded goals.   Earning platinum certification under its new construction rating system, the Offices at Palm Crossing scored more than 80 points out of a possible 110—84 total—for a number of built in strategies related to water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.   Located at 677 W. Palmdon Drive at the corner of Palm and Herndon avenues in Fresno, the 40,000 square-foot building was constructed using local materials, much of them from recycled sources.   Low-impact paints and coatings were applied to the walls, while large windows and a number of other day-light strategies help cut down on energy use.   Motion sensors in all the offices reduce energy usage by turning lights on and off automatically and a solar array over the parking lot generates power for all common areas of the building.   An extremely efficient air conditioning system was installed as well and a water conserving fixture installation results in a dramatic reduction in water use in the building, which also reduces the burden placed on the local water treatment facility.   Lance-Kashian also purchases power from a wind farm, earning carbon credits to offset some of the building’s environmental footprint.   "Lance Kashian & Company has always been concerned about the environment and its tenants, so it only made sense to pursue Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification for our office building and reduce our overall impact", said Tracy Kashian, vice president of marketing and public relations for Lance-Kashian, in a release.   The latest certification follows another LEED Platinum award to the company for the Tower in The Village at River Park office building last July under the existing building: operation and maintenance rating system.   Fresno’s Tutelian & Company also earned LEED Platinum certification under the commercial interiors rating system last April for the General Services Administration center housed in the Park Place office building in north Fresno.
Written on 04/17/2014, 4:38 pm by Business Journal staff
For the third consecutive year, Fresno State was named by the Princeton Review as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada. The Princeton Review's Guide to 332 Green Colleges is based on a survey of colleges on sustainable initiatives  like recycling, renewable energy and conservation programs when profiling colleges. Fresno State, one of 332 colleges included in the annual publication, scored points for its 1.1 megawatt solar system installed on parking structures to provide 20 percent of power needs for the campus. Another distinction came from a new water conservation plan announced recently that includes measures like micro-sprinklers, drought-tolerant plants and non-potable water systems in new buildings to reduce campus water usage by 59.8 million gallons next year. Next year, Fresno State will unveil the Valley's newest electric vehicle charging station with two stalls delivering a full charge in two to three hours and two rapid charge stalls that can do the same job in under 30 minutes. Now in its fifth edition, the 216-page guide can be downloaded at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide.aspx.
Written on 04/17/2014, 2:03 pm by Business Journal staff
Homes sales increased throughout the San Joaquin Valley in March although activity was still sluggish compared to last year. According to a new report from the California Association of Realtors, home sales increased 16.6 percent in Fresno County during the month but dropped 19.1 percent year-over-year. The price of a median home in Fresno County stood at $202,100 in March, up 10.9 percent from $182,270 the prior month and 25.9 percent from $160,510 a year ago. Sales in Tulare County climbed 30.5 percent in the month but fell 15.1 percent compared to last year. The county's median home price inched up 1.3 percent to $165,380 over January's $163,330. That's also up 20.2 percent over $137,560 a year ago. Kings County made even more progress. Sales grew 38.6 percent in March but slipped 4.8 percent from last year. The median home price in the county stood at $179,230 in the month, down 1.8 percent from $182,500 in February but up 22.8 percent from $146,000 a year ago. Madera County saw its sales drop by 18.5 percent in March and 21.4 percent from last year. However, home prices in the county picked up in the month to $190,000, up 28.8 percent from February's median price of $147,500 and 39.7 percent from $136,000 in March 2013. Fresno County's unsold inventory index, or number of months to deplete the supply of homes at the current sales rate, stood at 5.2 months in March, down from 5.8 months in February but up from 3.8 months a year ago. Tulare County's index dropped to 4.7 months compared to 5.9 months in February but picked up from 3.2 months in March 2013. Kings County's inventory stood at 3.2 months in March, down from 4.4 months in February but a little better than 2.7 months a year ago, while Madera County home supply improved from 3.9 months in February and 3.5 months a year ago to 4.3 months in March. Statewide, home sales totaled 367,000 units in March, up 1.4 percent from 361,790 in February but down 12.3 percent from 418,310 a year ago. "While the demand for housing was up from February, the market is taking a hit from lower housing affordability compared to a year ago, which led to a decline in home sales from last year," said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown. "Moreover, concerns over tighter lending standards and increased borrowing costs are also contributing factors to the sluggish market as they both negatively impact the bottom line of home buyers who obtain financing through mortgages."
Written on 04/17/2014, 1:58 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — Tens of thousands of spring-run Chinook salmon are being released into the San Joaquin River, marking a major milestone in the federal plan to restore native fish populations to the state's second-longest river. The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 54,000 hatchery-produced salmon into the river from a site near Fresno on Thursday. Though environmentalists are celebrating the release, federal water managers say the state's drought means not all of the fish will return to spawn. The San Joaquin River carried the continent's southernmost salmon run until the Friant Dam was built above Fresno to capture its water for crops. The restoration effort is the result of a 2006 legal settlement that ended a decades-long legal tussle between farmers, environmentalists and the federal government.
Written on 04/17/2014, 1:48 pm by Business Journal staff
Central Valley Community Bank increased its earnings by nearly 50 percent in the first quarter over the same period last year. The Fresno-based bank reported revenues of $2.62 million, or 24 cent per share, for the three months ended March 31. That's up 46.7 percent compared to $1.78 million, or 18 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2013. The bank attributed much of the increase to a higher net interest income in 2014 due to the collection of non accrual loans totaling $1.62 million, which resulted in a recovery of interest income of $721,000. Net interest income before the provision for credit losses during the first quarter of the year was $10.09 million compared to $6.85 million the year before. The bank also increased its assets from $870.42 million in the first quarter of 2013 to $1.13 billion in the latest quarter. Non-performing assets decreased 35.93 percent over the year to $4.98 million. Deposits increased 33.89 percent from $735.73 million to $985.05 million, while loans were up 31.6 percent from $390.67 million to $514.38 million. Shareholders' equity increased by 5.1 percent since December to $6.13 million President and CEO Dan Doyle said asset quality ratios have continued to improve with the reductions in non-performing loans and the overall increase in total loans from the bank's recent acquisition of Visalia Community Bank last July. He added, however, that the bank continues to feel the impact of low loan demand and a low interest rate environment driven by the Federal Reserve's influence on the control of interest rates, as well as strong competition for loans throughout the San Joaquin Valley. "The current concern for the Central Valley's food and agriculture-related industry is the reduced supply of and demand for affordable water," said Doyle, who retires at the end of the year to be replaced by veteran banker James Ford. "This is the third year with below-average snow and rainfall, which is negatively affecting agribusiness as a whole, including those employed directly or indirectly in the service business supporting this critical industry in our region."Established in 1979, Central Valley Community Bank has 21 full-service branches from Sacramento to Visalia. The bank also operates commercial real estate lending, SBA lending and agribusiness lending departments.
Written on 04/17/2014, 1:45 pm by Business Journal staff
The Fresno metropolitan area had some of the highest home price and inventory increases in the country, according to a report by Realtor.com. The National Housing Trend Report for March 2014 showed the median list price of a home increased 5.3 percent in March over the year before, going from $189,800 to $199,000. Out of 146 metros evaluated in the report, the Fresno metro had the eighth highest increase in the country. Prices increased 17.4 percent in the area over the last year from a median price of $195,800 to $229,900. That's behind metros like Houston growing 18.5 percent, Denver at 20.1 percent and No. 1 Stockton-Lodi at 38.9 percent. Housing inventory also grew over the year before, rising 9.5 percent nationwide to 1,841,844 homes listed on Realtor.com. Going from 1,946 homes listed on the website in March 2013, the Fresno area has since climbed to 3,049 listings in the latest month. That's an increase of 56.7 percent, just sixth behind Nashville, Tenn. (56.8 percent), Orlando, Fla. (56.8 percent), Bakersfield (57.3 percent), Orange County (63.5 percent) and Stockton-Lodi (68.6 percent). The median age of inventory increased 22.9 percent across the country over the last year with homes now 102 days on the market on average. In the Fresno metro, the increase in inventory meant homes spent an average of 61 days on the market in March. That's up 45.2 percent from a year ago, 12th behind areas like Springfield, Ill. increasing by 57.3 percent, Stockton-Lodi by 60 percent, Oakland, Calif. by 80 percent and Rochester, N.Y. growing the most by 98.4 percent. According to Realtor.com, a real estate listing service offered by Move, Inc., home sales activity remains sluggish but added inventory may mean more affordable prices in many markets for the first-time and move-up homebuyers alike. "Bidding wars in many markets last year frequently elevated offer prices beyond the reach of first-time buyers who could scarcely save for the down payment," said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, in a release. "While inventory is still low, the continuing annual lift in the number of homes on the market that we've seen over the first months of 2014 is an indicator that buying conditions this year may be notable improved from the frenzied pace of last spring."
Written on 04/17/2014, 11:25 am by Business Journal staff
The rightful leaders of the tribe that runs the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold is still in doubt pending an order today by the Interior Board of Indian Appeals to have an administrative judge weigh in on the years-long dispute. The decision follows a letter by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in February stating that it would work with the tribal council elected in December 2010 to administer housing funds, operate federal service programs and carry out government relations with the tribe. Reggie Lewis, chairman of that tribal council and current head of the Chukchansi Economic Development Authority tasked with overseeing the casino's finances, praised the position. However, another faction led by Tex McDonald now running the day-to-day operations at the casino quickly sought to reverse the decision through the Interior Board of Indian Appeals, referencing the latest Dec. 7 election as its claim to tribal leadership. The IBIA's order delays the immediate effect of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' February decision until an administrative judge sorts out the merits of each council and decides which group of the Chukchansi Tribe the federal government will conduct business with. Leadership of the tribe has been in dispute since a December 2011 tribal election, leading to two factions laying claim as the rightful council.

Latest State News

Written on 04/18/2014, 8:28 am by FENIT NIRAPPIL, 
JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press
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Latest National News

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