Labor Day tradition became food for thought

FRESNO, Calif.

The 26th Annual Labor Day Pancake Breakfast - hosted by the Central Labor Council - offered a chance for both workers and elected officials to talk about the economy.

Putting food on the table. It's also a daily struggle many families face in the central valley.

Right now the unemployment rate is hovering around 16% in Fresno County and surrounding areas. And while the focus of this event at the Fresno Fairgrounds was to honor working families - those in attendance couldn't help but talk about the need to create jobs.

"Get the public works projects going," said Tony Flores. "That's how we got out of the last depression. Roosevelt did it and that's the only way we're gonna get out of this one. Put money in the working man's pocket."

Former president of the Plumbers and Pipe Union Tony Flores believes high speed rail is the way to go. "That would create a lot of jobs."

But Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea has another idea. "Right now we have 27 applications that are in play in Fresno County to create solar farms and the net value of all of those farms is over 6 billion dollars."

Perea believes the solar power industry is the wave of the future and is currently working on an initiative to bring jobs to the Valley.

Henry Perea said, "These really are high tech types of operations that require not only maintenance people to keep the panels clean, but electricians... in inputting to the grid."

In two weeks Perea plans to visit Paso Robles - to tour a facility built by Gestamp Solar out of Spain. He says if the company were to come here - it would create hundreds of jobs. And he says Fresno County already has the space to support a large scale facility.

Perea said, "We're looking forward to expanding the base and using non-productive farmland on the westside, particularly, and turning it into productive land for solar and for jobs."

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