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Saturday News Briefs

By Doug Caldwell
Central Valley Business Times
August 20, 2010

•  State tracking down tax-delinquent businesses

•  Fresno offers help to small businesses

•  I R 40, the plate said

•  And a lot more….

Recalled bread (see eighth story in Briefs)

State’s jobless rate may not be as bad as it looks


The July jobless numbers, released Friday, weren’t as bad as they may have looked, say economists with Beacon Economics of San Francisco.


California lost a total of 9,400 jobs between June and July -- but essentially all of those losses were associated with the ending of the 2010 Census, their report notes. Thousands of temporary Census workers have been hired and had their jobs end in the past 4 to 5 months -- sometimes masking the real direction of the state's labor markets.


Fundamentally, all of the state's month-over job losses occurred in government employment, which fell by 23,100 jobs and of those, 20,100 were federal government jobs and directly related to the end of the Census, says Beacon. Private employment gained 13,700 jobs, offsetting most of the government job losses.





State’s jobless rate is just as bad as it looks


California's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 12.3 percent in July, making it one of 18 states that experienced no change in their unemployment rate. Another 18 states saw decreases in unemployment, while 14 saw increases.


The problem -- and solution -- are clear, says the president of the American Small Business League of Petaluma.


"Small businesses are the backbone of California’s economy and an engine for job creation in the state. If we are going to bolster California’s economy, as well as our nation’s economy, we must stop the diversion of billions of dollars a year in federal small business contracts to corporate giants,” says ASBL President Lloyd Chapman.


Every year California’s small businesses lose out on billions of dollars in federal contracts, he says.


The solution, he says, is kicking around in Congress: H.R. 2568, the “Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act.”


Mr. Chapman says if it were passed, it would redirect nearly $1 billion a month in addition federal spending to California’s small businesses and create more jobs in the state than any legislation or policy to date.


“It is time for Governor Schwarzenegger and California’s congressional delegation to support H.R. 2568 as a means of saving California’s small businesses and its jobs," Mr. Chapman says.





Bullet train’s Bay-to Central Valley EIR ready


The California High-Speed Rail Authority has made available a “Revised Final Program Environmental Impact Report” (EIR) for the Bay Area to Central Valley portion of the state’s proposed high-speed train system.


In March, the Authority circulated a draft of it to comply with a court judgment in litigation challenging the its final program EIR for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act. The Authority held two public hearings in April and got more than 3,700 comments, it says.


The Revised Final Program Environmental Impact Report includes revised text, copies of public comments, responses to comments and the full text of the Authority’s 2008 Bay Area to Central Valley High-Speed Train Final Program EIR.


See link at bottom of the Briefs to get to the posted EIR


The Revised Final Program EIR will be considered by the Authority’s Board of Directors at its meeting Sept. 1-2.


Then, on Sept. 2, the board will consider certifying the EIR and make a new decision on a preferred network alternative for the high-speed train system to connect the Bay Area to the Central Valley.





Franchise Tax Board looking for unpaid business taxes


The state is contacting more than 40,000 California businesses that have not filed their 2008 state income tax returns with the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).


The notices inform the businesses that they have 30 days to file a return or show why there is no tax filing requirement. Businesses that disregard the notices could face tax assessments that may include penalties, interest, and fees, the FTB warns.


FTB annually reviews more than 5 million income records received from the Internal Revenue Service, the state Employment Development Department, the state Board of Equalization, financial institutions, and other business entities, then compares that data to tax returns already filed to identify noncompliance. Last year, FTB collected approximately $38 million from non-filing businesses the agency notified.


California faces an annual “tax gap” of $6.5 billion per year. The tax gap is the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid.





Small business, job seekers get help in Fresno


Thousands of additional job seekers in Fresno are now covered by through the expansion of a program providing tax incentives to businesses that hire them.


Expansion of “Targeted Employment Areas” by the city of Fresno and Fresno County means inclusion of previously ineligible homes and apartments. The change improves the job prospects for unemployed or underemployed residents locally and increases the number of eligible workers for businesses located in city and county enterprise zones, the city says.


Due to a technicality, residence addresses in TEA census tracts falling partially within the jurisdiction of another municipality were excluded from eligibility. This meant that a significant number of households, which otherwise would have qualified, were left without TEA designation. As a result, Enterprise Zone businesses had no financial incentive to hire individuals residing in these areas.


But the city and county were successful in getting the state to allow the inclusion of previously ineligible census tract addresses into the County of Fresno TEA.


“This successful partnership is another significant step in the effort to bringing unemployment numbers down in Fresno,” says Craig Scharton, city of Fresno downtown and community revitalization director. “It helps qualified applicants market themselves better in this highly competitive environment while encouraging businesses to reinvest in themselves and the community. It’s definitely a win-win for all involved.”





Personalized license plate program turns 40 today


Forty years ago, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed legislation authorizing California to issue “environmental license plates” – special interest plates -- on Aug. 21, 1970.


“Since 1970 when California issued the first personalized plate with the word “AMIGO,” these plates have become part of the rich California history,” says DMV Director George Valverde.


Based on the success of the program, the state expanded on the concept of using license plates to fund special programs, such as the California Arts Council, the Coastal Commission, and various organizations that comprise California’s 11 special interest license plates.


California charges $38 annually to renew the personalized plates ($49 the first year). Californians have expressed themselves on 1,030,000 registered motor vehicles.


California’s specialty plate program has generated approximately $630 million for a wide range of causes. Special Interest License Plates, such as the Arts, Kids, Coastal, Lake Tahoe, and those supporting Veterans’ Organizations, can also be personalized.





Fresno State wins third consecutive ‘Tree Campus USA’ recognition


For the third year in a row, California State University, Fresno has been designated a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation – one of just 74 colleges and universities across the United States to win the recognition in 2010.


The designation recognizes the university’s urban forest that helps cleanse the air for the general community, provides shady refuge from summer heat and is one reason the 388-acre campus is a state-designated arboretum.


Together with the 1,011-acre campus farm, a substantial portion of which is planted to a broad variety of fruit and nut trees, Fresno State forms the biggest green belt within the urbanized Fresno-Clovis metro region.


Tree Campus USA is supported by a grant from Toyota.





Milton's Baking recalls some bread in Central Valley


Milton's Baking Company of Calsbad is voluntarily recalling “Milton's Multi-Grain Bread” which was distributed to locations in Northern and Central California, Arizona and Nevada. The company says it’s taking the “precautionary” step because the loaves contain milk, an undeclared allergen, which may pose a potential serious and life-threatening health risk to milk-allergic individuals.


The company advises that anyone who has eaten the bread and has had an allergic reaction should seek the advice of a health-care professional.


This recall affects only Milton's Multi-Grain Bread, 24oz, UPC 06541-92038 with the Plant Code 250 sold only in Northern and Central California, Arizona and Nevada. "All Best if Purchased By" dates through Aug 26 are included in the recall.


The product is sold in both single loaf 24 oz packages and in overwrapped double loaf packages. The plant code is printed on the front of the package under "Best if Purchased By" on the second line immediately after the date.


No other Milton's products are included in this voluntary recall.

Source: http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=16070










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