Fresno area part of Global Cities Initiative to boost trade
Date: Thursday, February 12, 2015
Source: ABC KFSN-TV | By Gene Haagenson | SANGER, Calif.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) —
A stream of baby food jars shooting down a conveyer line at the Initiative Foods plant in Sanger are a small example of the Fresno areas growing importance in the global economy.
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said, “We are so pleased to announce that Fresno the San Joaquin Valley has been designated a Global City participant.”
Mayor Swearengin announced Fresno’s selection in the program. It means agencies like the Fresno Economic Development Corporation will get money to help market valley products overseas.
The corporation has already helped Initiative Foods of Sanger expand and sell its baby food to the Asian market. Company President John Ypma said exports are about 20% of the company’s business.
“We have two major export markets one is to Asia and one is to Canada,” explained Ypma. “Canada is way up this year well over 100% and the Asian business is brand new for us so there is no comparison we’ve got five active customers right now and looking to bring two or three more on board.”
Initiative Foods has been producing organic and natural baby food products under a variety of labels for 12 years.
The China business just started, after the economic development corporation brought a Chinese group to the plant two years ago. As result, business is up, more workers have been hired, and more are expected.
“The more business we have the more shifts we put on.” Ypma said.
And nearly all of the baby food comes from crops grown in the Central Valley.
Becoming part of the Global Cities Initiative will help the Economic Development Corporation help other businesses.
Initiative Foods Finance officer Jeff Jankovic explains how they helped his company.
Jankovic explained, “They sort of push you on the stage, if you are kind of standing wondering how to get started they get you going in the right direction, meeting the right people.”
The officials at the press conference said the ultimate goal is expanding business to put more local people to work. The effort is being kicked off by a $300,000 grant from JP Morgan Chase.