published on December 29, 2017 - 3:24 PM
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Perhaps the biggest story of 2017 when it comes to Central Valley economic development is the major e-commerce fulfillment center.

In the space of only a few months in the spring and summer, Ulta Beauty and Amazon announced plans to open e-commerce fulfillment centers in Fresno, in an area near East and Central avenues that is quickly becoming a hotspot for new industry.

It was a major rebound for efforts to land these sort of heavy employers. In 2016, Nordstrom backed off of plans to open a similar facility, with Fresno and Visalia competing to get hundreds of new jobs.

Today, Ulta Beauty and Amazon are working to complete more than 1.5 million square feet of combined e-commerce space that could eventually house more than 2,000 workers.

A longtime Fresno business, Valley Wide Beverage, is also completing a facility near Ulta and Amazon that will nearly double its existing space.

When it comes to high-tech manufacturing, Los Angeles electric car startup Faraday Future turned a lot of heads when it announced in August plans to open a new manufacturing plant in Hanford in the former Pirelli tire plant. As many as 1,300 jobs could be created at the facility. It’s also expected to open up millions of dollars of potential supply contracts for local firms.

Despite the green startup’s well-reported financial and internal staffing problems, local economic development officials are confident Faraday’s plans to open by the end of 2018 will come to fruition.

On another green front, recreational cannabis — passed by California voters in 2016 — is expected to generate new industry in the local municipalities that are rolling out the red carpet. Tulare County towns including Farmersville and Woodlake are set to welcome new marijuana cultivation operations, along with Hanford in Kings County and Coalinga in Western Fresno County.

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