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NEWS FLASH - May 2011

Olam Opens New Headquarters in Fresno, CA

President/CEO Steve Geil was the Master of Ceremonies at the Olam Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

"Ag firm Olam locates West Coast HQ in Fresno"

The Business Journal: Written by Gabriel Dillard (May 5, 2011)

Olam International, the Singapore-based supplier of ag products from cashews to cotton, is setting corporate roots in the Valley with the announcement that Fresno will be its West Coast headquarters.

Olam is a truly global company that operates an integrated supply chain for 20 products in 64 countries. It began its expansion into the Valley in 2007 when it acquired cotton processor Anderson Clayton Crop. in Fresno after purchasing its parent company, Queensland Cotton Holdings of Australia.

Jose Antonio Ramirez, Firebaugh city manager, said having Olam's West Coast corporate headquarters in Fresno could open up more prospects for its Valley holdings, including an expansion of the products it processes as well as research and development. "The value-added opportunities that are going to surface from having its headquarters in Fresno and a plant in Firebaugh are going to be endless," Ramirez said.

In 2010, the publicly-traded Olam International reported sales revenue of about $8.53 billion, with about $292.2 million in net profit.

Attorney Carl Refuerzo, chair of the business department for Fresno law firm Baker Manock & Jensen, works with Olam on its various business dealings. He said Olam's representatives here and abroad are easy to work with, and that this is great news for Fresno and the Valley.

To read the full article, click here.

Thank you Bank of America!

On behalf of the Economic Development Corporation, Board of Directors, members and staff, we take this opportunity to express our sincerest appreciation to Bank of America for the award of $10,000 for Community Development and Neighborhood Preservation grant.  Their commitment to helping our local business community is sincerely appreciated!

It is through the support of corporations like Bank of America that we are able to continue to strengthen our programs and to develop new and innovative projects to serve our cities and the business community.

The EDC will continue to lead the charge in providing business services and education to businesses around Fresno County. Each year the Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County continues to advance its mission of being the Essential Connection for businesses. Through our programs such as the BEAR Action Network and Corporate Locations we have seen many companies locate, expand and grow in Fresno County.

The goal of the Economic Development Corporation is to continue to inform and assist the business community of Fresno County. With the help of grants from supporters such as Bank of America, we will continue to see improvements in Fresno County. Thank you Bank of America!

May 14th-21st was AmeriCorps week! It was a time to celebrate AmeriCorps volunteers as well as national service. AmeriCorps members help communities tackle pressing problems while engaging more than 80,000 men and women in intensive service each year through more than 14,000 nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. One branch of AmeriCorps known as VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), is a poverty-fighting program which was created in 1964 as part of the War on Poverty. VISTA members serve full-time for one year with project sponsors and focus on capacity-building opportunities and designing sustainable programs. For those of you who don’t know, AmeriCorps VISTA members are getting things done right here in Fresno County.

The EDC both hosts AmeriCorps VISTAs in our own staff and acts as a coordinating hub (intermediary site) for various sites and VISTAs throughout Fresno County. We currently have 8 VISTAs serving with the EDC in various faculties, working to alleviate poverty through economic and community development. Sites include the EDC, Fresno EOC’s Community Development Financial Institution, the City of Fresno, City of Clovis, City of San Joaquin, City of Mendota and Fresno County Economic Development Department. Projects range from the development of a regional credit union to implementing a low income energy efficiency program and facilitating the implementation of the County of Fresno’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.

AmeriCorps members make our communities safer, stronger, healthier, and improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. AmeriCorps service isn’t just nice, it’s necessary, and its impacts are proven and measurable. Please help us continue celebrating the AmeriCorps program by spreading the word on all the great work being done in your community!

View a brief video from your local AmeriCorps VISTAs here!

BEAR Action Network & The Enterprise Zone

The State of California has proposed the possible elimination or reform of the business tax incentive program, the Enterprise Zone. If you are not familiar with this program it can generate thousands of dollars in hiring credits for qualified hires, sales and use tax credits on qualified equipment, and much more.  Reform could alter the ability for employers to take advantage of the hiring credits so the EDC BEAR Action Network is urging Fresno County employers to at least learn the process involved with claiming these credits before any program changes occur.

The EDC offers this information through our Step 2: Cashing in on Tax Credits workshops available throughout all of Fresno County. A complete schedule of these informational workshops can be accessed here. You can also schedule a one on one presentation with EDC staff to learn more about this incentive if the workshop times listed do not fit your schedule. Our goal is to educate your company on how to qualify and capture these valuable credits as quickly as possible and it’s absolutely FREE

To learn how to capture these valuable credits or acquire possible cash refunds please contact Blanca Aguirre at (559) 476-2503 or or register online at and click on BEAR Workshops.

Also, if you are currently looking to expand, or are in danger of closing your business, we would also like to meet with you to talk about other services and information from our various BEAR Action Network partners that may be able to assist you. Such services and information includes:

  • Site Selection/Real Estate Assistance/Building Contracting/Construction
  • Workforce Development/Employee and Intern Recruitment/Layoff Aversion
  • Financing and Microloan Programs/Business Plan Development
  • Strategic/Marketing Plans
  • Other Tax Incentive Information: HUB Zone and Foreign Trade Zone
  • Utilities – Incentives, Rebates, PACE Program, and Energy Rate Analysis Assistance
  • Government Contracting Assistance/Small Business Certification
  • And much more…

The BEAR Action Network program focuses on Fresno County’s existing companies which represent the local economic base. Studies have shown that these businesses are responsible for up to 80% of all net employment.  The BEAR Action Network is a collaborative partnership program featuring a world-class business support matrix that has enhanced the stability and growth of existing businesses, resulting in increased job creation, more capital investment and has helped elevate the local tax base by connecting local businesses in Fresno County with public and private business resources.

Clean Energy Cluster: Get Involved Today!

Cluster Meeting: June 9, 2011

8-10AM: University Business Center, Fresno State Campus

The Clean Energy Cluster is a network of interconnected businesses and supporting institutions that work together to develop regional economic prosperity in the clean energy industry. By addressing issues that affect the industry as a whole, the Cluster is able to unite as one voice and make an impact on the clean energy industry in Fresno County. Visit the webpage for more information.

Join the Clean Energy Cluster for a meeting on June 9, 2011 where we will discuss issues that solar developers are currently facing, and a future event that will educate the community about local energy efficiency programs. Also, in collaboration with the Stanislaus Economic Development & Workforce Alliance, for a Workforce Investment Board Grant, the Cluster will host a Renewable Energy Business Forum where we will identify opportunities for renewable energy business growth. Click here for the meeting agenda.

Contact Kristen Kawaguchi at or 559-476-2505 if you are interested in attending the meeting.


FREE Educational Presentation: "PG&E Savings by Design and Customized New Construction" - June 7, 2011

The US Green Business Council - Fresno Branch is hosting a free presentation on June 7 at the Universalist Church (2672 E. Alluvial Ave, Clovis, CA 93611) to educate the public on rebate and incentive programs available from PG&E, the Savings By Design program, and how to apply and use the rebates and incentives. RSVP to

Family Dollar Expands to Fresno County

The following excerpts are from an article posted by the Business Journal about a company that the Economic Development Corporation's Corporate Locations Department helped to locate here in Fresno County:

Family Dollar plans more than dozen area stores

Written by John Lindt (May 12, 2011)

Family Dollar Stores, Inc. of North Carolina has set an ambitious schedule to open new locations in the Central Valley where population growth is strong.

The chain, with more than 6,800 stores nationwide, currently has no stores in the state, but has targeted more than a dozen Valley locations as potential sites, according to various sources in local municipal government.

The company has contacted city planners to build mostly new 8,000 square-foot stores in Avenal, Coalinga, Wasco, Hanford, Corcoran, Firebaugh, Sanger, Reedley, Parlier, Fresno, Kerman, Tulare, Woodlake, Exeter and Farmersville, for starters. The retailer prefers to build stand-alone stores, although in some towns they fill existing vacant space. In Sanger, the retailer is already remodeling an existing building, according to the planning department.

Sanger officials who attended a presentation by the retailer hosted by the Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County said the chain plans as many as 1,000 stores in the state, and is working on eight in Fresno alone, said Dan Spears, Sanger economic development manager.

The discounter sells apparel, beauty products, home goods and food. Approximately 90% of Family Dollar’s products cost less than $10.

Family Dollar has embarked on an aggressive growth strategy, with plans to open 300 new stores in 2011. Revenue in 2009 was $7.4 billion. Each store employs just 7 workers. Many of the new openings will be on the West Coast, where Family Dollar expects to build a new distribution center.

To read the full article, click here.

Firebaugh City Manager quoted in The Wall Street Journal

"California Farms Revive"

by Jim Carlton, The Wall Street Journal

California's farm economy is on the rebound after several years of sharp decline, with farmers gearing up to plant thousands of acres of idled fields, rehire laid-off workers and resume buying tractors, trucks and other equipment.

Behind the resurgence: The region's wettest winter since 2006 is allowing water officials to open crucial irrigation spigots after three years of sharply curtailed supplies. Plus, a global uptick in crop prices means the products of California's vast farm region are seeing growing demand.

Although unemployment in the Central Valley region remains among the highest in the state and nation, many farming towns report the early signs of a rebound. The upsurge is likely to help the economic recovery of the nation's most populous state, where seasonally adjusted March unemployment was 12.3% compared with the national average of 8.8%, despite pockets of prosperity such as Silicon Valley.

In Firebaugh, Calif., west of Fresno, sales-tax receipts rose 12% to 15% in the first quarter from the same period a year ago. A local tomato processor ramped up its employee head count to 1,100 from 800 over the same time period, said City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez. "It's a big trickle down effect going on here," he said. "The restaurants are busy, the auto parts stores are busy, everybody is busy."

Labor economists say the valley's unemployment rate, which normally tops that of most other parts of California ahead of the big spring growing season, is likely to drop significantly in coming months because of the new planting.

Read the full article here.

9th Annual "Developing Hispanic Leaders" Gala Night

Keynote Speaker: Mr. Frederick R. Ruiz, Ruiz Foods

Friday, June 10, 2011


The Grand 1401, 1401 Fulton Street, Fresno, CA 93721

Formal Black Tie Attire

RSVP 559-222-8705

Tickets $100 (FAHCC members). $120 (non-members)

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REMINDER! Due to budget cuts, the EDC Office will be CLOSED on Fridays.

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