Bakersfield-based property owner Eric Beard was looking for a place in Lemoore to set up his young business, Beard Motorsports, a few years ago. But a search of the area turned up nothing suitable. "That was when I got the idea to buy property in the industrial park and build something myself.”

Eric knew he was likely not the only small business looking for commercial space. He offered 2,400 to 4,800 square feet in a modern light industrial setting, building a 37,000-square-foot complex on 5.3 acres he bought at Enterprise and Commercial in the Lemoore Industrial Park. He filled it with six units of 2,400 square feet each and one 4,800 square feet space.

Now, the place is full with what he calls “a little bit of everything” including an electrical company, women’s fitness place, a wedding supply outlet, a racing hobby shop and a farm labor office. Now he is working with the city of Lemoore to build out the acreage with two new 33,500-square-foot buildings and expects they too will be leased out when they open in October 2018.

Across the street, the new PG&E complex is under construction.

As Lemoore seeks to spread its economic development wings, the city is lucky to have places for new start-ups and franchise expansions. Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms. Since 1995, small businesses have generated 64 percent of new jobs, and paid 44 percent of the total United States private payroll, according to the Small Business Administration.

Valadao’s water bill expected to pass the House

[Update: H.R. 23 was passed by the House on Wednesday]

Local congressman David Valadao’s water bill is expected to pass the House this week but faces an uncertain future in the U.S. Senate, similar to the last time the bill stalled. All 14 GOP congressmen from California applaud the bill, which is H.R. 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water (GROW) Act,  that Valadao says “addresses the underlying policy failures that contribute to increasingly severe drought in the Central Valley.” It would override control of current state policy over the interpretation of the endangered species act, a move critics like California’s two U.S. Senators say make it impossible for them to support.

Valadao vows to make it easier to build new water storage in California and to repeal the San Joaquin River restoration program, unpopular with farmers.

Senators Feinstein and Harris say: “We oppose Congressman Valadao’s bill to weaken California’s ability to manage its own natural resources. California’s Central Valley helps feed the world. It deserves sensible and responsible water solutions — this measure doesn't even come close to meeting that test. His legislation would preempt existing California environmental laws and regulations, giving the Trump administration greater control over water management in our state.”

Almond crop heading for a record

USDA is estimating that this year’s almond crop will hit a record 2.25 billion pounds, some 5 percent higher than 2016. Almonds are the Number 5 crop in Kings County, valued at $123 million in 2016. Acreage of the nut expanded in the county from 21,455 in 2105 to 23,131 acres last year.

However, the price per ton fell sharply from $7,570 to $4,820 per ton in 2016 according to the county crop report. USDA says the average price was about $2.44 per pound compared to over $4 in 2014. Almonds were not alone as walnuts too suffered a big drop in price last year.

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USDA says average almond nut set is estimated lower at 7.2 percent from last year at just over 5,700 almonds per tree. Nonpareil variety nut set is up about 2.4 percent over the previous year at nearly the same number of almonds per tree.

Heat continues but cow carcass emergency is over

Baker Commodities is up, running, and picking up cow carcasses again at local farms. Kings County Board of Supervisors ended the emergency proclamation Tuesday that they had signed a few weeks ago.

So far in July, the National Weather Service says it has been over 100 degrees every day this month but one - a trend that they expect will continue until the 25th and perhaps the rest of the month.

The heat has not just killed off cows, it has cut milk production and is expected to mean less butter produced as the CFB has reported. Butter production could eventually be affected by the June California heat wave. That’s the conclusion of an American Farm Bureau market analysis. Cows typically produce less milk — and less milkfat — during hot weather. The analysis says that could ultimately affect the amount of butter produced in California, which accounts for about 30 percent of the nation’s production.

No chocolate milk For SF school kids

Chocolate milk is off the menu for San Francisco school kids this coming fall as the district seeks to cut sugar use. Some kids grumble, the SF Chronicle reported recently, but most switched to white milk. Still, there are students who strongly prefer flavored milk and who might have nutritional deficiencies, a nutritionist said. It might make more sense to offer chocolate milk to such children to ensure they get the calcium, vitamin D and potassium they need, she adds.

“In 2011, the Los Angeles Unified District banned chocolate milk but now has reversed itself after a pilot study found offering chocolate milk again would increase milk consumption and reduce waste.” Today, chocolate milk is back in LA school cafeterias.

UCLA highlights resident doc here

After graduating from a UCLA program last year, Dr. Jose Javier Hernandez, from Oaxaca, Mexico, is now a first-year resident in the family medicine residency program at Adventist Health in Hanford, in rural Kings County,  says a UCLA news release. Spanish-speaking migrant farmworkers make up a large portion of the population, and the patient-to-doctor ratio far exceeds the 3,500-to-one ratio that defines a “shortage.”

“The need for medical care here is overwhelming,” Hernandez said. “So many of my patients have avoided the doctor for years because of language and cultural barriers. Now, they know there is someone who can care for them who knows the language, knows the cultures and shares their heritage. It’s so rewarding knowing how much of a difference I am making in their lives.”

Farmers express concern over electric-rate proposals

Proposed changes in time-of-use electric rates could pose challenges for California farmers says the Farm Bureau. Utilities have asked to revise their peak and off-peak times, when electricity prices rise or fall. Farmers and their representatives say changes could disrupt irrigation schedules and other agricultural operations. Three hearings will be held in July and August on a Pacific Gas & Electric Company rate proposal.

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John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at sierra2thesea@gmail.com

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