Mike Graff

Back Photographer

By this person

Green Gas Grows

Capital Region biofuels reek of potential

A 2009 report from Pike Research in Boulder, Colo., forecasts the combined biodiesel and ethanol markets will reach $247 billion in sales by 2020, up from just $76 billion in 2010, or about 12 percent annual growth.

Sep 30, 2011 Robert Celaschi

Renovation Realities

One business owner's quest to get compliant

Kevin Straw can restore a car to its original state. He can fix a dent, smooth rough spots, put on a fresh coat of paint and make a clunker look new.

But over the next couple years, Straw will have to learn the ropes of another craft, using unfamiliar tools to restore his business, fix the dents inflicted by a legal attack, smooth over the rough spots of his shop’s accessibility to wheelchairs and paint blue stripes in the parking lot.

Kevin Straw can restore a car to its original state. He can fix a dent, smooth rough spots, put on a fresh coat of paint and make a clunker look new.

But over the next couple years, Straw will have to learn the ropes of another craft, using unfamiliar tools to restore his business, fix the dents inflicted by a legal attack, smooth over the rough spots of his shop’s accessibility to wheelchairs and paint blue stripes in the parking lot.

Sep 30, 2011 Anne Gonzalez

Reformation Nation

The pros, cons and political climate of federal health care reform

In a nation full of hot-button issues, few are as torrid as federal health care reform. More than a year and a half since its passage, the law — officially dubbed the Affordable Care Act but derisively called “Obamacare” by its critics — is still being fought in the courts, Congress and statehouses across the country. But for all the political and legal wrangling, the law is marching forward.

Aug 31, 2011 Rich Ehisen

Water Wise Man

Engineer David Ford gives unpopular answers to flood of questions

Being the bearer of unwelcome news rarely makes you the most popular person in town, particularly when it comes to flood control. But it doesn’t worry David Ford, one of the most trusted figures on California’s sometimes-contentious flood control scene and a man with a knack for speaking what Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Frank Hagar once called “the truth that men prefer not to hear.”

Jun 30, 2011 Rich Ehisen

Coupon Clicking

Sweet deals could sour for overeager business owners

With megasites Groupon and LivingSocial trumpeting daily deals that lure throngs of customers with up to 70 percent discounts on everything from dinners to skydiving lessons, it’s no surprise local businesses are signing up. After the deal is on, though, does the promise of new customers and more revenue add up?

Jun 30, 2011 Carol Crenshaw

Clean Bill of Health

Certifying green standards for medical facilities

In November, after seven years of work, the U.S. Green Building Council passed construction guidelines for health care facilities. Some local building experts say it’s too early to tell what this means for Capital Region architects and builders; others say it’s too much too late for the region.

Apr 30, 2011 Matt Perry

Hole in One

The business of smacking balls

Golf bag slung over his shoulder and a bounce in his step, a stocky fellow walks alone to his car in the Haggin Oaks parking lot. “I was crushing the driver,” he says, talking more to himself than anyone else. “Absolutely crushing it.”

Apr 30, 2011 Bob Burns

The Logistical Choice

Central Valley sees an upswing in industrial tenants

While the economy strangles commercial real estate throughout California, the greater Stockton area linking Interstate 5 and Interstate 580 is blossoming with industrial logistics centers that warehouse commercial goods for distribution throughout Northern California and the western region.

Feb 1, 2011 Matt Perry

Lending Competition

Weighing the pros and cons of bank size

In the Capital Region and beyond, some customers are switching from large financial institutions to smaller community banks, partially in response to columnist Arianna Huffington’s December 2009 “Move your Money” campaign, which encouraged consumers to do just that.

Dec 1, 2010 Ingrid Ahlgren

Green Teach

Preparing workers for tomorrow's jobs

When Californians went to the polls on Nov. 2, they did more than just select a slate of new Capitol denizens. With the eyes of the world upon them, voters emphatically rejected Proposition 23, the oil industry-backed initiative to block Assembly Bill 32, the state’s groundbreaking effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Dec 1, 2010 Rich Ehisen

Growing up Urban

The political climate of land-use planning

For decades, devising a clear solution for California’s suburban sprawl and ensuing car culture has been the Holy Grail for smart-growth advocates. One trip on any of the Golden State’s perpetually clogged roadways during peak hours shows how ineffective most of those efforts have been.

Oct 31, 2010 Rich Ehisen

Where the Green Hype Grows

The hazards of marketing eco-friendly products

As consumers fill their lives with reusable shopping bags, organic foods and energy-efficient vehicles, touting the environmental friendliness of goods and services has become an increasingly important marketing strategy for companies worldwide. This, coupled with vague government guidelines for green marketing claims, is causing challenges as competitors, consumers and environmental advocates demand standards and verification of these claims.

Sep 30, 2010 Christine Calvin

Air Conditioning

Emissions standards target key industries

If there is one thing a business owner hates, it is uncertainty. Planning for the future — or even managing the present — cannot effectively happen unless the person signing the checks knows the rules of the game. But when it comes to California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, uncertainty is about the only thing employers can count on right now.

Sep 30, 2010 Rich Ehisen
Mimi Nguyen, economic development director, Downtown Stockton Alliance

Taking a Chance

Stockton businesses invest in the long term

By the mid-1990s, it was fair to question whether downtown Stockton was on the path to decay. Crime and blight were major concerns that kept visitors and businesses away, and there was little to suggest a turnaround was in sight.

Sep 30, 2010 Bill Romanelli
Dr. Jan Nolta heads he stem cell program for the UC Davis Health System and directs the Institute for Regenerative Cures. 

(Photo courtesy of UC Davis Health System)

Stemming Out

UC Davis researchers deliver lab innovations

Dr. Jan Nolta is a whirlwind of energy, and this July morning she is blitzing through UC Davis’ brand-new Institute for Regenerative Cures, a state-of-the-art lab where scientists and researchers are working on breakthrough discoveries and stem cell therapies.

Jul 31, 2010 Josh Brodesky
The Firehouse Restaurant sommelier Paul Marsh and wine buyer Richard Macias agree - high alcohol or not, drink what you like

Big Red

Industry experts weigh in on high-alcohol vino

Bold wines are big sellers these days, and to meet consumer demand, winemakers across California are pushing their wines to the max by replacing white varietal vineyards with reds and allowing fruit to stay on the vine a little longer.

Jun 30, 2010 Christine Calvin
Grass Valley resident Kendra Delaney lives in a multigenerational household, which includes her son, Sam, and father, Jim

Multigenerational Mingle

Housing that suits the whole family

Like many couples, Grass Valley residents Kendra Delaney and Rob Riley are searching for the perfect home. They’d like the house to be fewer than 10 years old, have at least three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a spacious kitchen and room for Delaney’s 6-year-old son, Sam. One other detail: The house must also be able to accommodate Delaney’s 62-year-old father, Jim Delaney.

May 2, 2010 Samantha Bronson