in Kings and Fresno counties
California’s Central Valley is the world’s seventh largest economy. The valley, which encompasses Kings and Fresno counties, is home to the majority of the United States’ agricultural production (as measured by dollar value) and is continuing to experience growth in agribusiness and food processing, health and wellness, manufacturing, distribution and logistics, energy and e-commerce.
Kings County lies in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, the richest agricultural area in the world. With that distinction also comes the challenges of an economy that has historically been dependent on seasonal agriculture and low wages. According to the Kings County Economic Development Corp., government is the largest employer, followed by agriculture; trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; and manufacturing.
Agriculture is the primary industry in Fresno County as well, and it is one of the most productive counties in the nation. According to the Fresno County Economic Development Corp., the county produces 13 percent of California’s agricultural output valued at $7.04 billion. The agricultural industry generated 47,300 jobs in 2015. Another leading industry was health care services, which generated 31,700 jobs. Jobs associated with area tourism generated 14,130 jobs as visitors spent $1.16 billion at area restaurants and food stores and on transportation, lodging, retail, and arts and entertainment.
Both counties have economic development corporations that provide resources to help local businesses prosper. The corporations’ websites have information and resources on business financing, site selection, local regulatory agencies, workforce development, the local labor market, local demographics and more. Visit the Kings County Economic Development Corp. at www.kingsedc.org and the Fresno County Economic Development Corp. at www.fresnoedc.com.
The median age in both counties is about 32 years old, meaning the workforce skews younger. Median household income in Kings County is $53,234 and $48,715 in Fresno County, according to U.S. Census. State income tax rates range from 1 percent to 12.3 percent. For more information, visit the California Franchise Tax Board at www.ftb.ca.gov.
Rail and Transit Access
Kings and Fresno counties are geographically positioned midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco with overnight delivery service conveniently available. The Burlington Northern & Santa Fe, Union Pacific and San Joaquin Valley railroads provide freight service for a variety of markets: coal and chemicals, food and forest products, automobiles and agricultural products. Amtrak also provides service in the area as well.
Major transportation corridors in the counties include Interstate 5 and State Route 198, as well as state routes 41, 43, 168 and 180. In urbanized areas, much of State Route 198 has been widened to four lanes. U.S. Route 99 runs adjacent to the eastern county line in Kings County and connects Fresno with Selma in Fresno County.
The valley, which encompasses Kings and Fresno counties, is home to the majority of the United States’ agricultural production. California has also been one of the nation’s most important oil-producing states for quite some time, with the San Joaquin Valley contributing to that production. The discovery of oil in the western part of Fresno County at the foot of the Coast Ranges brought about an economic boom in the 1900s, even though the field itself was known at least as early as the 1860s. Coalinga Oil Field, one of the largest fields in Fresno County, was the most richly productive oil field in California by 1910. In the 1920s, the Kettleman North Dome Oil Field in Kings County became one of the most productive oil fields in the United States. Coalinga continues to produce oil, and internationally known oil and gas companies in the region employ hundreds of workers in the nearby oil fields.
However, the state has ambitiously embarked on a path to shift its energy portfolio to renewable sources. Fresno County and the rest of the San Joaquin Valley have embraced California’s renewable energy industry with solar projects in particular. The region is of intense interest to renewable energy developers because of its temperate climate and world-class solar resources, but the development will need to balance these resources with highly sensitive wildlife habitats.