All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

Fresno: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Agriculture is the backbone of the Fresno area, employing nearly 20 percent of the workforce and providing more than $3.5 billion for the local economy. More jobs are tied into the agricultural industry than any other industry in the Freso area; estimates are that one in three jobs in all are related to agriculture. A majority of America's produce is grown in California's Central Valley, and Fresno County is the number one agricultural county in the United States. By 2005 more than 7,500 farmers were growing 250 types of crops on 1 million acres of some of the world's most productive farmland. Major crops are grapes, cotton, cattle, tomatoes, milk, plums, turkeys, oranges, peaches, and nectarines. A large food processing industry has developed around the agricultural activity; a number of canning, curing, drying, and freezing plants are located in the area.

An Ernst and Young study also tapped Fresno as an ideal location for manufacturing and distribution, due to its proximity within one day's drive of 35 million people. Manufacturing concerns in this Port of Entry region produce farm machinery, metal products, transportation equipment, stone, clay, and glass products, lumber and wood products, furniture and fixtures, and electrical equipment. Government, services, and trade are also important economic sectors.

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

In 2002 the City of Fresno was one of just seven localities nationwide to be awarded a lucrative Federal Empowerment Zone designation. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will fund this program until December 31, 2009. Business that are located in the Empowerment Zone are eligible for significant incentives that will encourage expansion, including up to $3,000 per employee per year, tax deductions on property investment and capital gains, tax-free rollover of certain gains, and tax-exempt financing through state or local government bonds. The City of Fresno is specifically interested in attracting new businesses involved with flexible food manufacturing, irrigation and agricultural technology, agile industrial manufacturing, advanced logistics, smart commerce and customer services.

In addition to these programs, the city also has other programs such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the Fresno Redevelopment Agency (RDA) and its finance authority, that can be useful when considering Industrial Development Bonds. The City has also developed relationships with other agencies such as the Fresno County Workforce Development Corporation and the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation, which offer assistance to the developer and other companies considering a move to the City of Fresno.

State programs

The city of Fresno has one of the largest Enterprise Zones in California. Within the zone, the State of California provides business tax credits covering a wide range of hiring, financing, and capital investment activities. Among the advantages of investing in Enterprise Zones in 2005 was a Net Operating Loss carry-forward of up to 100 percent for up to 15 years; $31,544 or more in state tax credits to firms for each qualified employee hired; and sales tax credits to corporations on purchases of $20 million per year of qualified machinery and machinery parts. The State Loan Guarantee Program provides working capital loans, and Small Business Administration loans are available to assist in financing fixed-capital and operational expenditures. All programs are administered through the State of California Commerce and Economic Development Program.

Development Projects

The most significant development in recent years, the Save Mart Center on the campus of Fresno State University, opened in late 2003 as a venue for national touring concert acts, as well as Fresno State home basketball games. Several downtown developments have revitalized the area, including the Tower at Convention Center Court, an 11-story complex completed in 2003, as well as several other office towers. A new federal courthouse will be the tallest building in Fresno. These and other planned developments are part of the city's Vision 2010 that aims to bring residents back to the area.

Economic Development Information: Economic Development Department, Jeffrey Reid, City Manager, 2600 Fresno St (2nd floor), Fresno, CA 93721; telephone (559)498-4591; fax (559)488-1015; email [email protected]

Commercial Shipping

International freight shipments to and from the entire region flow through the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, a direct port of entry. The nation's largest parcel carriers, FedEx, UPS, and DHL, operate from there. Rail freight services are provided by both the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads. Nearly 200 truck firms are based within the Fresno County borders.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Fresno continues to diversify its economy toward non-agricultural industries. In 2002, two major manufacturers, Sinclair Systems and Rayovac Corporation, moved their headquarters to the Fresno area. Fresno's labor force is productive, motivated, flexible, and relatively young. Steady population growth has occurred faster than local business expansion or new business development. Unemployment rates fluctuate seasonally, due mainly to the high demand for agricultural labor at certain times of the year. A large number of immigrants, both regional and international, provide a continuous supply of employable people with diverse skills. Job availability is aided by a cooperative effort between business and government to attract new industry.

The following is summary of data regarding the city of Fresno labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 285,800

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 200

construction: 20,000

manufacturing: 27,400

trade, transportation and utilities: 55,800

information: 4,400

financial activities: 13,700

professional and business services: 27,300

educational and health services: 35,400

leisure and hospitality: 24,000

other services: 10,700

government: 66,400

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $12.14

Unemployment rate: 13.0% (January 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
Fresno County Unified School District 10,000
Fresno County 6,492
Community Medical Centers 5,500
City of Fresno 3,131
Zacky Farms 2,500
St. Agnes Medical Center 2,400

Cost of Living

Fresno boasts a cost of living that is low compared to other California cities.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Fresno area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $390,843

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 119.3 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% to 9.3%

State sales tax rate: 6.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales and use tax rate: 1.975%

Property tax rate: Limited to 1% of assessed value by state law. In some cases the local taxing body can add up to0.15%

Economic Information: Fresno Chamber of Commerce, 2331 Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93716; telephone (559)495-4800

views updated

Fresno: Recreation


The 67-mile Blossom Trail offers arguably the best look at what makes the Fresno area unique, with a plunge into some of the most productive agricultural land in the world. The annual Blossom Trail kickoff comes each February, and motorists and hikers through the farm country can come upon stunning displays of blossoming peach, nectarine, plum, orange, and almond trees in full bloom. The family-run Simonian Farms at the end of the trail cultivate more than one hundred varieties of fruits and vegetables and can be toured via a hay wagon.

Fresno is less than an hour away from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and three of the nation's most popular national parks. Yosemite, King's Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks offer spectacular canyons, waterfalls, and forests of 4,000-year-old bristlecone pine trees and giant sequoias, the largest trees in the world.

Downtown Fresno offers the Fulton Mall, a beautiful area of stores, restaurants, landscaped grounds, fountains, and sculpture that covers a ten-block area. It contains one of the finest collections of public art in the nation, arranged throughout the central business district. Roeding Park, two miles northwest of the downtown area, contains the Fresno Zoo, the third largest in California; Rotary Playground, a mechanical park for children; Chaffee Zoological Gardens; and Storyland, offering display and walk-through depictions of children's stories.

Arts and Culture

The William Saroyan Theater is the cultural center of Fresno. Luxurious seating for 2,300 people and near-perfect acoustics highlight the theater, home to the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Fresno Ballet and site of many cultural events throughout the year. Other venues for the performing arts are the Good Company Players Second Space Theatre, presenting comedy and drama; Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre; historic Tower Theatre, presenting touring performers; Theatre Three, presenting eight varied performances annually in a 107-seat facility; and Warnors Theatre.

The Fresno City and County Historical Society operates the Kearney Mansion and Fort Miller Blockhouse, two historical museums, extensive archives on the history of Fresno, and tours of the city's historic buildings. Meux Home, a restored historical structure in downtown Fresno, features a number of exhibits relating to the region's history, displayed on a rotating basis. Architecture buffs might wish to contemplate the futuristic design of the City Hall, located near the historic district containing Meux Home and St. John's Cathedral.

The Discovery Center is a hands-on science museum and outdoor education center; it features Native American exhibits, a cactus garden, worm farms, ponds, and a greenhouse.

The Fresno Art Museum is the only modern art museum between San Francisco and Los Angeles and has three main galleries, an exhibition concourse, and a unique "Child-space"; it offers art classes for adults and children. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Science, and History contains collections of European still lifes, tromp l'oeil oil paintings, and exhibits focusing on the cultural heritage of Central California, including exhibits dedicated to author and Fresno native William Saroyan.

Arts and Culture Information: City of Fresno Cultural Arts Office, telephone (559)498-1181

Festivals and Holidays

Fresno schedules a number of special cultural and ethnic events throughout the year. A variety of activities are planned by communities along the Blossom Trail to coincide with the peak growing season, beginning in late February or early March. A Renaissance Festival is held annually in March on the campus of Fresno City College. The Bob Matthias Fresno Relays take place every spring, as they have for more than 75 years. Beginning each June there are biweekly free concerts in Woodward Park. July brings the Obon Odori Festival, a Japanese carnival of crafts, games, food, music, and dance. The High Sierra Regatta at Huntington Lake is a prestigious yachting event held on two consecutive weekends in July. The Big Fresno Fair happens at the Fairgrounds in October.

Sports for the Spectator

The Fresno Grizzlies, a Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, play baseball at the new downtown ballpark, Grizzlies Stadium. The Central Valley Coyotes play professional Arena Football at 11,000-seat Selland Arena. Minor League hockey can be seen with the Fresno Falcons at the new Save Mart Center, and the Fresno Heatwave play ABA pro basketball at Selland Arena. The Fresno State University Bulldogs play basketball at Selland Arena and football at Bulldog Stadium. Men's baseball and women's softball teams compete at Beiden Field.

Sports for the Participant

A number of area lakes and reservoirs provide a full range of water recreation in the immediate Fresno area. But with three of America's great national parks within a 90-minute drive, Fresno offers arguably the greatest range of recreational options of any large metropolitan area in the U.S. Nearby Yosemite, Sequoia/Kings Canyon, and Death Valley National Parks offer flat, scorching desert vistas to high mountain streams and skiing, and everything in between. The numerous streams and rivers in the area offer some of California's finest trout and largemouth bass fishing, as well as rafting and canoeing. The hills and nearby mountains contain many campsites and hiking trails; snow skiing is less than 90 minutes away at Sierra Summit, while Lake Tahoe is just a bit further in the Sierra Nevada range.

More than 2,000 children age 3-12 play on 175 teams in the sports of baseball, basketball, and football, and participate in karate lessons. The city of Fresno operates 3 major regional parks, including the highly popular Chaffee Zoo, as well as 27 playgrounds and community centers, 14 swimming pools, 3 eighteen-hole golf courses, and tennis courts. There are 5 additional public golf courses in the immediate Fresno area.

Shopping and Dining

Fulton Mall, a popular sightseeing spot, is the major shopping complex in Fresno's downtown area. Other important shopping centers are the Fashion Fair Mall and Manchester Mall. The Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis contains several large retail outlets and a number of smaller specialty shops. Numerous smaller centers and antique shops are spread throughout the city. Of unique interest is the international gift shop in the Mennonite Quilting Center in downtown Reedley.

More than 500 restaurants in Fresno, many housed in historic buildings, offer a wide selection of dining experiences for every taste and price range, including hearty regional and western dishes, Mexican specialties, and European and international cuisines.

Visitor Information: Fresno Convention and Visitors Bureau, 808 M Street, Fresno, CA 93721; telephone (559)233-0836; toll-free (800)788-0836; fax (559)445-0122; email [email protected]

views updated

Fresno: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Fresno Unified School District is the fourth largest in California, with a 2004 budget of $869 million. A five-member, nonpartisan board of education hires a superintendent. Overall the district has underperformed due to a wide variety of problems including financial woes, mismanagement, and a highly diverse student population with large numbers of immigrant and non-English-speaking students, many of whom are impoverished. In 2005 more than 50 percent of the district's schools were scoring in the bottom 10 percent in California and the district as a whole was at the risk of a state takeover.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Fresno Unified School District as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 80,421

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 61

junior high schools: 19

senior high schools: 8

Student/teacher ratio: 20.6:1

Teacher salaries minimum: $34,326

maximum: $61,100

Funding per student: $8,351

Additionally there are 15 private schools serving K-12 students in Fresno, including several Catholic elementary and high schools, other Christian and religious schools, and secular private institutions.

Colleges and Universities

California State University at Fresno (commonly known as Fresno State), part of the 23 campus California State University system, is a four-year accredited university offering doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate degrees in about 100 fields to its more than 22,000 students. With 26 nationally accredited departmental programs, Fresno State is the largest post-secondary institution in the city and sits on a 327 acre campus and adjacent to a 1,083 acre University Farm in the northeast section of Fresno. Fresno City College is a 2-year community college with more than 21,000 students. California's oldest community college, Fresno City College offers Associate's degrees in more than 100 disciplines. Many are designed to transfer to four-year institutions. The University of California San Francisco School of Medicine operates a branch in Fresno that provides medical internship and residency training. Nearly two dozen other schools, including private colleges and universities, law schools, technical schools, and professional graduate schools operate in Fresno County.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Fresno County Public Library has a main library and 34 branches throughout the Fresno area. The system further links to the San Joaquin Valley Library system, a cooperative network of nine public library systems with shared information databases across six counties in the Central Valley. In addition to more than 1.1 million volumes, the Fresno County Library also offers nearly 2,000 periodical subscriptions, 1 million government publications, 47,000 video materials, and 87,000 audio materials. There are special services for the handicapped and visually impaired, as well as special collections on the Japanese and Hmong languages, Pulitzer Prizewinning author and Fresno native William Saroyan, oral history, and holdings of the Fresno Genealogical Society. Research activities in such fields as agriculture, forestry, irrigation, viticulture and enology, and information processing are conducted at centers in the Fresno area.

Public Library Information: Fresno County Public Library, 2420 Mariposa Street, Fresno, CA 93721-2285; telephone (559)488-3195

views updated

Fresno: History

Settlement of Fresno Delayed Until Arrival of Railroad

Fresno means "ash tree" in Spanish, and it was the name given by early Spanish explorers to a stretch of white ash trees along the banks of the San Joaquin River. These explorers did not settle the region where Fresno is now located, however, because they considered it uninhabitable. The site was in fact to remain undeveloped until the late nineteenth century. In the early part of the century, potential settlers were discouraged from staying permanently by the presence of the native population. Unlike other California cities, Fresno did not get its start during the gold rush, for prospectors simply passed through the area on the way to the Sierras. After the gold rush the land was used for cattle grazing.

The first permanent settlement is said to have been established in the 1860s by an immigrant from Holland who was joined by a few other people; but the cluster of dwellings was not actually considered a town. In 1872 the Central Pacific Railroad was constructed through the San Joaquin Valley; the railroad builders laid out a town, calling it Fresno Station for the name of the county, which had been taken from the grove of trees along river. A station was built on the present site of downtown Fresno.

The county seat at that time was Millerton, a town 25 miles to the south. In order to gain access to rail transportation, Millerton residents voted to transfer the seat to Fresno Station and the entire population moved. The town was rough and desolate, the countryside barren. The introduction of irrigation and grape-growing in the valley brought prosperity, however; Fresno was incorporated as a city in 1885. Soon vineyards were being planted by local inhabitants as well as Italian, French, and Swiss immigrants who had bought 20-acre parcels of land.

Development of Raisin and Fig Industries

When the dry white wine produced from the area's vineyards proved less than satisfactory, the grapes were cultivated for raisins, which were naturally produced by the continuous sunlight in the valley. Following an unusually large yield of more than one million pounds of raisins that drove the price down to two cents a pound in 1894, the Raisin Growers Association was organized in 1898 to protect the raisin industry. In 1886, Frank Roeding and his son began growing figs in the area; having experimented with caprification, the cross-fertilization of the Smyrna fig by the fig wasp, they started another successful industry.

By 1900 the population of Fresno had reached 12,470 people, and the city drafted its first charter. During the following decade agriculture continued to flourish, with cotton growing and sweet wine production emerging as new industries. Fresno became the residential and commercial center of an increasingly prosperous region. With the expansion of manufacturing along with agriculture, Fresno was by the end of World War II a major metropolitan area. Today Fresno County is the nation's leading agricultural county, producing more than three billion dollars' worth of crops each year; crops now include nuts, melons, grains, rice, and vegetables. The city of Fresno has become the center of trade, commerce, finance, and transportation for the San Joaquin Valley.

Historical Information: California History & Genealogy Room, Fresno County Library, 2420 Mariposa, Fresno, CA 93721; telephone (559)488-3195

views updated

Fresno: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 515,000

1990: 667,000

2000: 922,516

Percent change, 19902000: 38.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 67th

U.S. rank in 1990: 59th

U.S. rank in 2000: 53rd

City Residents

1980: 217,491

1990: 354,091

2000: 427,652

2003 estimate: 451,455

Percent change, 19902000: 20.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 65th

U.S. rank in 1990: 47th

U.S. rank in 2000: 40th

Density: 4,315 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 214,556

Black or African American: 35,763

American Indian and Alaska Native: 6,763

Asian: 48,028

Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 583

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 170,520

Other: 99,898

Percent of residents born in state: 61.7 (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 38,996

Population 5 to 9 years old: 41,584

Population 10 to 14 years old: 38,324

Population 15 to 19 years old: 37,027

Population 20 to 24 years old: 35,309

Population 25 to 34 years old: 63,085

Population 35 to 44 years old: 60,172

Population 45 to 54 years old: 46,932

Population 55 to 59 years old: 15,060

Population 60 to 64 years old: 11,589

Population 65 to 74 years old: 20,061

Population 75 to 84 years old: 14,302

Population 85 years and over: 5,211

Median age: 28.5 years

Births (Fresno County, 2002)

Total number: 14,766

Deaths (Fresno County, 2002)

Total number: 5,785 (of which, 102 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $15,010

Median family income: $35,892

Total households: 139,969

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 19,827

$10,000 to $14,999: 11,862

$15,000 to $24,999: 23,114

$25,000 to $34,999: 20,110

$35,000 to $49,999: 21,767

$50,000 to $74,999: 22,646

$75,000 to $99,999: 9,998

$100,000 to $149,999: 6,993

$150,000 to $199,999: 1,704

$200,000 or more: 1,948

Percent of families below poverty level: 20.5 (59.0 % of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 33,909

views updated


Fresno: Introduction
Fresno: Geography and Climate
Fresno: History
Fresno: Population Profile
Fresno: Municipal Government
Fresno: Economy
Fresno: Education and Research
Fresno: Health Care
Fresno: Recreation
Fresno: Convention Facilities
Fresno: Transportation
Fresno: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1872 (incorporated 1885)

Head Official: Mayor Alan Autry (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 217,491

1990: 354,091

2000: 427,652

2003 estimate: 451,455

Percent change, 19902000: 20.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 65th

U.S. rank in 1990: 47th

U.S. rank in 2000: 40th

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 515,000

1990: 667,000

2000: 922,516

Percent change, 19902000: 38.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 67th

U.S. rank in 1990: 59th

U.S. rank in 2000: 53rd

Area: 99.1 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 328 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 62.5° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 9.86 inches

Major Economic Sectors: Agriculture, trade, services, manufacturing, government

Unemployment Rate: 13.0% (January 2005)

Per Capita Income: $15,010 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 33,909

Major Colleges and Universities: California State University, Fresno; Fresno City College; Fresno Pacific University

Daily Newspaper: The Fresno Bee

views updated

Fresno: Transportation

Approaching the City

The Fresno Yosemite International Airport is served by 11 local and national air carriers and offers scheduled service to more than 25 of the nation's major cities.

State Highway 99 runs through the center of the city and connects with Interstate 5, the major north-south highway in the state. State Highways 41 and 168, running north and south, and State Highway 180, running east and west, connect the city with the Sierra Nevada Mountains and western California.

Amtrak provides daily passenger rail schedules through Fresno County with connections to northern and southern California. Fresno County is poised to maintain its dominant rail position in California as the state continues with plans for high speed rail service, which will connect the Central San Joaquin Valley with San Francisco and the Los Angeles basin. The proposed rail service would transport passengers at more than 200 miles per hour and move 68 million passengers annually by 2020. Transcontinental bus service is also available.

Traveling in the City

Most of Fresno is laid out in a grid of streets running east-west and north-south. West Avenue is the dividing line for east and west designations, and Whites Bridge Avenue and Kings Canyon Road divide the city north and south.

Fresno Area Express has 18 fixed-route bus service lines and Handy Ride Para transit service with a fleet of more than 100 buses.

views updated

FresnoMano, piano •Arno, boliviano, Bolzano, Carnot, chicano, guano, Kano, llano, Locarno, Lugano, Marciano, Marrano, meccano, oregano, Pisano, poblano, Romano, siciliano, soprano, SukarnoRenault, steno, tenno •techno • Fresno • Pernod •ripieno, volcano •albino, bambino, beano, Borodino, Borsalino, cappuccino, casino, chino, Comino, concertino, Filipino, fino, Gino, keno, Ladino, Latino, Leno, maraschino, merino, Monte Cassino, Navarino, neutrino, Pacino, palomino, pecorino, Reno, San Marino, Sansovino, Torino, Trevino, Valentino, vino, Zenominnow, winnow •Llandudno • Gobineau • domino •Martineau •lino, rhino, wino •tonneau • Grodno •Livorno, porno •Mezzogiorno •cui bono?, kimono, Mono, no-no, phono •Bruno, Gounod, Juneau, Juno, Uno •Huguenot • pompano •Brno, inferno, journo, Salerno, Sterno

views updated

Fresno: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

One daily newspaper serves Fresno readers: The Fresno Bee. Fresno Business Journal is published weekly. Four other special interest papers are published in Fresno. Of the eleven magazines published in the city, six focus on agriculture.

Television and Radio

Cable television is available throughout Fresno. In addition, major network broadcast television (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and PBS) are available locally. As expected of any mid-sized American city, a wide variety of radio programming is available from 17 FM and AM stations.

Fresno Online

California Mission Studies Association. Available

City of Fresno Home Page. Available

Fresno Bee. Available

Fresno Chamber of Commerce. Available www.fresno

Fresno Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available

Fresno County Economic Development Corporation. Available

Fresno County Library. Available

Fresno Unified Public Schools. Available

Selected Bibliography

Burnett, Brenda Preston, Andrew Davidson Firebaugh and Susan Burgess Firebaugh: California Pioneers (Rio Del Mar, Calif.: Rio Del Mar Press, 1995)

views updated

Fresno: Geography and Climate

Fresno is located in the fertile San Joaquin Valley in the central part of California, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The terrain in Fresno is relatively flat, with a sharp rise to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains about 15 miles eastward. The weather is usually sunny, with over 200 clear days each year. Summers are typically hot and dry, while winters are mild and rainy. Spring and fall are the most pleasant seasons.

Area: 99.1 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 328 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 39.6° F; August, 94.1° F; annual average, 62.5° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 9.86 inches