August 30, 2014

Business Beat: Turning the spotlight on Merced

I am pleased to announce the start of this occasional column, designed to highlight what’s happening with businesses in the Merced area.

I am pleased to announce the start of this occasional column, designed to highlight what’s happening with businesses in the Merced area.

First, a bit of background:

I have been writing the Business Beat column for The Modesto Bee for the past couple of years. It’s a popular column with a long history in The Bee, including a long stint in which now-Merced Sun-Star Managing Editor David W. Hill put it together each week with his own inimitable panache.

As for me, I have some history in Merced: I worked at the Sun-Star for some time a few years back, and my husband, Joe Cortez, is the former sports editor. We often find ourselves in town, either to visit Joe’s folks (an excuse, really, to stop at his beloved Pizza Villa) or to work in the Sun-Star newsroom. I was excited when Mr. Hill suggested we expand the column into the Sun-Star, and look forward to learning about the ups and downs of Merced’s business community.

Enough about me and the column. On to the good stuff:

The former Circuit City on R Street has been vacant since late 2008; the electronics chain went out of business in 2009. As my colleague Thaddeus Miller reported six months ago, In-Shape Health Clubs took over the space and started renovations.

That work is complete, and the new club is set to open Sept. 9. The site, at 3275 R St., has 18,000 square feet, more than twice as large as the In-Shape it replaces on Highway 59.

In a news release, the company described the site as a “Fit” center, “offering state-of-the-art equipment and amenities with a focus on creating a fun, easy fitness environment at an affordable price.”

Those amenities include cardio machines, flat-screen TVs (great for distracting yourself on those tedious treadmill runs), free weights and more. There will be group classes and personal trainers available, and something called Fitness on Request, a self-service kiosk where fitness enthusiasts can pick from a variety of group exercises.

“We are thrilled to open our new Fit location, giving Merced residents even more options to stay in shape,” In-Shape CEO Paul Rothbard said in the release.

On Sept. 9, the community is invited to an open house from 4 to 8 p.m. to tour the center, take part in demonstrations and give the equipment a try.

For more information, call (209) 725-8375 or stop by the club for a guest pass.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

The Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce is accepting applications for its 11th Junior Leadership Merced class.

The class is open to juniors and seniors in high school and is free to participants. The program is modeled after the Leadership Merced class. Participants will visit government agencies and businesses to learn more about how they operate. The chamber also is seeking sponsors for the class.

For more information, call the chamber at (209) 384-7092 or go online to www.merced-chamber.com.

And finally, it’s the Labor Day weekend, the traditional end of summer and start of fall, though the season doesn’t get underway officially for a few weeks. So, what better time to start thinking about the holiday season?

The folks at Hickory Farms are, and they are accepting applications for employment at the meat and cheese retailer’s kiosk to be set up at Merced Mall. More information and applications are available at www.mercedmall.com.

Here is the part of the column where I ask for your help. If you have a question about a commercial building you see being built, or a tip about a new store coming to town, or just want to say “Hi,” by all means please drop me an email. You can reach me at pguerra@mercedsunstar.com.

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