Valley Works: Blue Tech Valley

May 13, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
In the Central Valley water is big business and it's not just related to agriculture.

Fresno State is taking the lead in water energy technology with the creation of its Wet Center.

Fresno State's International Center for Water Technology and the dozens of water tech companies in the area has those in the industry calling it Blue Tech Valley.

Officials are not only excited about the research taking place, but the jobs being generated by what's called the blue revolution.

Dr. David Zoldoske said, "We've been testing irrigation products for the last 30 years."

More recently, the university developed the International Center for Water Technology, which includes an 8,400 square feet water and energy lab. Dr. David Zoldoske says the focus on these industries came out of a study looking for ways to boost the economy in a region plagued with chronic high unemployment.

"What we do well is world class water technologies and the two largest drip micro companies in the world, their North American headquarters are located in Fresno, the largest pump company in the world is located in Fresno."

Zoldoske says the innovative work being done at the wet center is not only attracting companies to what is now being called Blue Tech Valley. But it is also providing opportunities for local businesses to sell their products in new markets, places like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico.

"We take local companies that have never sold outside the U.S., have them go down to South America. They've created lots of sales down there, "said Zoldoske. "We sell more products down in South America and Mexico, we create more jobs locally, simple as that."

The Wet Center also has its own on-campus incubator helping startup companies like AGH2O, owner Jim Anshutz sees opportunities in making older irrigation systems more efficient.

"I get the support and the assistance of a great staff," said Anshutz. "I am also in the center of exactly what's exactly king place. What's happened here at Fresno State the last five years is incredible."

The university is aware that not all are aware of the opportunities in water technology and is focused on trying to educate students about the career opportunities through its internship program.

Students like 22-year-old Zach Ross, an industrial technology major, who never thought he'd be working in Ag, testing irrigation equipment.

Ross said, "I knew there was a lot of Ag business in the Valley here, but it never really occurred to me that there so many different jobs under the big umbrella of Ag. I'm learning a ton and I really like the company I'm working with."

The center's director says they want to be known as the Silicon Valley of water technology.

Zoldoske says that kind of recognition will not only bring attention to the region but attract investment dollars and talent.


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