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Worth noting in business: Tejon Ranch sells land for prefab housing factory, WattEV begins work on electric truck stop, footwear retailers opens at Valley Plaza

WattEV Inc

WattEV Inc. broke ground Thursday on an all-electric truck stop north of Bakersfield along Porterville Highway. The El Segundo-based company calls the project the nation's first such facility, planning to be built with private capital and grants from the California Energy Commission and complemented with a fleet of 30 Volvo electric trucks bought with grants from the California Air Resources Board.

Lebec-based Tejon Ranch Co. announced Thursday it has sold 17.1 acres north of The Grapevine to an Indianapolis developer for construction of a 270,000-square-foot custom housing manufacturing facility being subsidized by local government.

Buyer Scannell Properties bought the land for a partially automated factory that will be the biggest yet owned and operated by Plant Prefab Inc., which has facilities in Ontario and Rialto, where the company is based.

Scannell said in a news release the location gives PPI efficient access to interstate travel and presents a strategic site between the Los Angeles Basin and the Bay Area.

PPI expects to begin production at the factory in early 2023 and employ between 100 and 150 employees by the end of its first year of operation in Kern. Ultimately it may employ up to 440 people.

Under the terms of the Kern Advance incentive recently authorized by the county Board of Supervisors, PPI will receive tax rebates totaling $6.6 million over three years, assuming it hires at least 50 full-time workers by June 30, 2023.

El Segundo-based WattEV Inc. broke ground Thursday on a first-of-its-kind electric truck stop being located 1½ miles north of Merle Haggard Drive along Highway 65.

The 110-acre project, financed with the help of grants from the California Energy Commission, will be powered by electricity from a solar farm and on-site battery storage. Initially it is expected to charge 200 trucks per day, including 30 tractor-trailers purchased with grants from the California Air Resources Board.

WattEV's business model will lease electric trucks to transportation companies at a cost it estimates as being roughly equivalent to the cost of buying a diesel-powered semi. The company has said it chose the location based on the Central Valley's heavy truck traffic and its relative proximity to Southern California ports.

Open to anyone with a vehicle to charge, the facility's $10 million initial phase is expected to offer a dozen energizing bays within two years. Its two heaviest charging stations are expected to take about half an hour to energize a Class-8 truck capable of carrying an 80,000-pound load 320 miles.

Eventually the project is expected to cost $30 million and included more than 40 charging bays with a total capacity of more than 20 megawatts. The company hopes to power 12,000 heavy-duty trucks on California roads by 2030.

A footwear retailer operating in Visalia Mall since 1984 has opened a store at Valley Plaza.

Feet for Life specializes in so-called wellness footwear, including shoes by Birkenstock and UGG, designed to address common foot problems. The company says its healthful products have earned it countless physician referrals.

Owner John Parker said in a news release he's proud to have prospered at a time many malls have lost customers to online shopping.

"With the huge rise in e-commerce, coupled with economic uncertainties, it's rare to witness the continued success of a brick-and-mortar store like Feet for Life, for which I am extremely grateful," he stated.