Business & Economy

Business news

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Residents of Bakersfield breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation, thanks to a confluence of vehicle exhaust, industrial operations, and stagnant valley air. In an effort to combat pollution, air quality advocates are now targeting a potential source of emissions that, at the moment, is not even operating.

Ride your bike along the Kern River just west of downtown Bakersfield, and you pass joggers and people walking dogs. To one side of the trail, families play Frisbee golf in the grass. To the other side, a symbol of Kern County’s economy looms silently.

Almond, bees
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Beekeepers flock from all over the country to California every February and March for bloom. During this time of year over 80 percent of the nation’s commercial bees buzz around the central part of the state pollinating almond trees. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports an advancement in almond breeding could decrease the need for these bumbling insects.

Billions of honeybees are gathering nectar and pollen from almond flowers around the state to feed their colony’s young.


Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

It’s the second day of the World Ag Expo in Tulare. People from around the globe come to the three day event to experience the latest in agricultural technology.  All these farmer types get hungry and that’s why food is a big deal at the show. Think giant steak sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and beer.  FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that for some community groups all those hungry people make for a big fundraiser.

Nancy Hammel’s peach cobbler sold at the World Ag Expo is baked on site.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio / White Ash Broadcasting

The World Ag Expo began its three day run in Tulare Today/Tuesday. FM89's Ezra David Romero reports this year’s show is as much about software as it is farm equipment.

There are plenty of new tractors this year at the World Ag Expo. But it's not companies like John Deere and Caterpillar stealing the limelight. It’s rather groups that make products that fit in the palm of a hand. Marisa Carpenter is a spokesman for the expo.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California farmers sold crops worth a record $54 billion, according to new numbers released from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The annual crop report is for the 2014 year. The numbers show a 5 percent increase in crop value versus the previous year, despite the drought. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Americans come into contact with cotton every day. It’s a staple we use for clothing, food products and even cosmetics. But not all cotton is of equal quality, much of what's grown Central California is of the highly prized Pima variety known for its softness and high price. But many times higher grade cotton fabrics have been laced with inferior fiber. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on how the cotton industry discovered the problem and how they’re fighting back.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Small could be the new big, at least when it comes to houses. The so-called "Tiny House Movement" has taken off in the last year with numerous shows and even a popular Netflix documentary about living in homes of just a few hundred square feet. For one local company, tiny homes are huge business.

At a time when many potential homeowners are going big, a small but growing number of people are downsizing into homes that are smaller than your average garage.

That is where Nick Mosley and his father Pat come in.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Arno Smit isn’t a household name in the valley.

But starting in the 1990’s the South African immigrant pulled off a scam the likes of which the valley hasn’t seen before or since. The story of this self-fashioned cattle baron who was actually running a ponzi scheme is the subject of a new piece in the California Sunday Magazine by journalist Tessa Stuart. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Drive anywhere in Central California and you’ll see fields of almonds.  Some people wonder if the growth of the almond industry is sustainable. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the price of the nut just may have met a slippery slope.


Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A shuttered casino in the hills near Coarsegold may come back to life this spring. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports.

A little more than a year ago the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino was forced to close its doors after a violent takeover.  Today, the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians reached a settlement with the National Indian Gaming Commission.  Claudia Gonzalez is on the tribal council.

GONZALEZ: “We’re one tribe, we’re looking to move forward in a positive way and we’re in the middle of a healing process."