Kern County recently ranked third among the nation's metropolitan areas in an economic analysis designed to distinguish regional job growth from the influence of national trends.

The ranking by Idaho-based Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. reflects job creation between 2010 and 2012.

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan statistical area placed first on the list, followed by the Texas MSA of Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos. Stockton's rank of 18th was the only other MSA to land in the top 20.

Verizon Wireless has expanded its 4G LTE network in Kern County with upgrades intended to improve service to its customers in Lost Hills, Grapevine and McKittrick.

The expansion, which took effect Nov. 15, was part of an expansion the company said would affect more than 440 markets nationwide. Verizon said its 4G LTE network is available to more than 250 million people in the United States.

In-Shape Health Clubs plans to open its 63rd California facility in Ridgecrest Nov. 30.

The fitness chain's newest location has cardio and weight training equipment, an indoor pool and spa, sauna and steam rooms and childcare with separate rooms for toddlers and older children. The gym is located at 930 N. Norma St.

San Joaquin Community Hospital's marketing department has won several awards for its work in communications.

The Society of Adventist Communicators awarded the department the Reger Smith Cutting Edge Award for an advertisement that featured local veterans dressed in clothing that combined their military uniforms with hospital gowns.

In the 2012 MarCom Awards competition, the department also won two platinum awards, a gold award and an honorable mention for work including the hospital's 2011 annual report.

The Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce is selling tickets for its annual business information luncheon, Bakersfield: The Next Five Years.

The event is to take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center. Scheduled speakers include Steve Murray of Murray Family Farms, John Kerschinski of PCl Industrial Services Inc. and Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green.

Tickets cost $38 for chamber members, or $75 for nonmembers. They can be purchased online at or by calling 327-4421.

Food 4 Less/Foods Co. has launched a checkstand fundraising program that allows customers to contribute spare change to local food banks.

The program began Nov. 11 and is scheduled to run through Feb. 2 in Southern California, southern Nevada and the greater Chicago area.

Separately, the Los Angeles-based supermarket chain said it has donated more than 600,000 pounds of perishable foods to food banks this year.