Mayor Lee Brand (second from left) at a press conference at the UCSF Fresno auditorium regarding the launch of new city website listing Opportunity Zone projects. Brand was joined by Lee Ann Eager (first left) from the EDC, CPA and advisor Robert Wiebe (center), Preston Prince (second right) CEO of the Fresno Housing Authority, and Tate Hill (right) Interim CEO at Access Plus Capital. Photo by Frank Lopez
Written by Frank Lopez
Mayor Lee Brand hosted a press conference Wednesday, along with the officials from the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation, at the UCSF Fresno auditorium to announce the launch of a new city website.
Opportunity Fresno is a website that showcases the pipeline of investment-worthy business and development projects located in “Opportunity Zones” in Fresno and Fresno County.
An Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.
Local media, investors, and members of the community were invited to the press conference and allowed to ask questions during a Q&A session after.
“Opportunity zones are an additional tool to help the city achieve our goal of economic inclusion and community wealth building,” Brand said. “Our website is a one-stop shop for investors seeking opportunities in Fresno.”
One of the current projects listed is the Sierra Agra Opportunity Fund, which is hoping to get an equity investment of $1.9 million for a state-of-the-art-food solution and ag tech manufacturing facility in Reedley. The company uses Italian engineered equipment to process seconds, culls and imperfect produce into juices, extracts and purees.
Another project is the S.A.G.E. Biorefinery Plant, which is looking for $35 million to build in a Fresno County Industrial Zone a biorefinery that will provide innovative and patented technology to convert carbon-base waste materials into beneficial products.
The Fresno Housing Authority is looking for a $2.5 million investment to transform the vacant Econo Inn Motel in Downtown Fresno into multi-family rental housing for low-income families.
Shake Energy Collaborative is a company that develops community designed solar facilities to allow communities access to low cost solar energy.
The company recently moved its headquarters from Palo Alto to Fresno to benefit from the Opportunity Zones.
Shake Energy is seeking $1.5 million to develop a pilot project for Fresno in partnership with the neighborhood of El Dorado Park in the next three years.
The hopes for us as an early stage company is to get a project built this year,” said Austin Bushtree, co-founder and chief customer officer of Shake Energy Collaborative.