Face of High Speed Rail

Tom Blackburn

Growing Throughout the State

March 22, 2017 – Over the last three years, Tom Blackburn has dispatched a small cadre of environmental professionals to assess parcels lying in the pathway of the high-speed rail project. He owns Blackburn Consulting, a certified small business that has geotechnical and geoenvironmental experts determining the level of contaminants on properties the Authority may be required to purchase.

Blackburn Construction worker

Workers use several methods to complete property evaluations—desk audits of properties, interviewing property owners, researching regulatory records, reviewing aerial photos and deploying drill rigs to determine the most effective way to remove stop leakage and remove contaminants.

In addition to doing geotechnical work in the Central Valley, Blackburn’s team provides independent assurance testing and environmental site assessment services to multiple construction packages.

Blackburn has offices in Auburn and West Sacramento and recently established a location in Fresno. He attributes the firm’s expansion to its work on high-speed rail. “Working on the high-speed rail project has been rewarding,” Blackburn said. “It has helped us get established in Fresno.”


Donn Ross-Jones of Transition Music Corporation

A Private Office in Fresno

March 6, 2017 – Leevel Tatum says it’s always a good day when he’s sitting eight feet high over the highway. “I like it because it’s my own private office and it’s a challenge,” Tatum laughed. He is the owner of BBL Tatum Truck and drives oversize wide load tractor trailers—hauling steel rebar, granite tile roofing material and other equipment for high-speed rail construction sites throughout the Central Valley. Tatum landed his initial contract on the project in March 2016. Since then, he’s signed two more contracts and has jobs on multiple construction packages.

Tatum opened his Fresno-based firm 16 years ago. Certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and a Disadvantaged Business Entrepreneur (DBE), high-speed rail is his first government contract. “This has been a financial blessing for my family,” said Tatum. “I may be able to purchase another truck and hire another driver.”

“High-speed rail will transform downtown Fresno and increase jobs by bringing in more people. They’ll either be traveling through and stop here or make their home here and work elsewhere. Either way, it will help the economy.”


Donn Ross-Jones of Transition Music Corporation

Expanding with High-Speed Rail

February 15, 2017 – Tucked away near the Tuolumne Street Bridge in downtown Fresno, Val Print has served as the Valley’s top choice for creative marketing solutions since 1951. The graphics and printing company recently expanded its printing and distribution capabilities, thanks to high-speed rail.

Born and raised in Fresno, Val Print President and CEO Jack Emerian has watched the downtown area change dramatically. He recalls hearing about high-speed rail construction planned for downtown Fresno. He notes, “Fresno needed a good shot in the arm and I thought this was one of them – and we need a modern transportation system in this state.”

As work moved forward on Construction Package 1, Emerian learned his G Street warehouse and all of his firm’s distribution products would need to be relocated. With the help of the Authority’s right-of-way team, he soon came across a building on F Street, less than a mile away. “I hadn’t thought about going anywhere outside of downtown Fresno because we’re pretty much entrenched here,” Emerian said.

Read more about how small businesses are benefiting from high-speed rail in our Small Business Newsletter.


Donn Ross-Jones of Transition Music Corporation

Music Sets the Mood for Success

February 7, 2017 – With the right rhythm and sound, a video can deliver a message that moves people. Music supervisor and media producer Donna Ross-Jones realized there was an underserved market needing music to accompany video content. “Music is such a major part of our lives,” she notes, “but few people outside of the music industry have real access to the power of music and the best the business has to offer.”

In 2011, Ross-Jones started Transition Music Corporation (TMC) which currently provides music for 8 networks and over 20 television series. Added up, her firm’s unique sounds play a role in more than 250,000 broadcasts across the nation and more than one million performances worldwide.

Audiences started hearing the unique beat of TMC’s music on high-speed rail videos when the firm landed a contract and starting working with the Authority’s multimedia team. She has received many other awards for her success as a female entrepreneur, including being named one of the “Fifty Most Influential Women in Entertainment” by the Hollywood Reporter magazine and “Media Firm of the Year” by the city of Los Angeles and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

For more small businesses taking part in the high-speed rail program read the latest Small Business Newsletter.