California Desert Oasis

The alfalfa farm in the middle of the Mojave Desert earned Curt Jahnke a good living, but it’s the water beneath his Oasis Ranch in aptly named Water Valley 65 miles north of San Bernardino, Calif., that will fund his retirement.

The 640-acre ranch’s water rights are expected to bring bidders to an auction of the rare ranch, according to Schrader Real Estate & Auction Co. Five wells on the land are producing an estimated 10,000 acre feet of water per year, but water consultants estimate it’s capable of producing 20,000 to 30,000 acre feet of water a year.

That first 10,000 acre feet of water comes with the bid price, but the rest will cost extra, based on production above the 10,000 acre feet. The deed also includes surface, mineral, and oil rights.

Hot Home Prices for Phoenix

Phoenix home prices can run from hot to cold and then back to hot as dramatically as desert temperatures vary from night to day. But in 2012, the market logged the largest gain in home prices in the country, climbing by 22.5 percent, according to Zillow.

Zillow cautions consumers not to get too excited about the value increases: “Buying a home should be a long-term decision, and these swings between a deep housing recession and higher-than-normal appreciation rates can give consumers whiplash and cause some to lose sight of that.”

IT Finds Home in Atlanta

Atlanta will benefit from GM’s move to bring most of its information technology work in-house to the U.S. The automaker is moving one of four new U.S. centers to a former UPS logistics building in Roswell, Ga.

The operation will include an investment of $26 million and employ about 1,000 information technology workers, including software developers, project managers, database experts, and business analysts, the company says.

It was Atlanta’s “location, universities, and quality of living” that earned it the center, said GM vice president and chief information officer Randy Mott. GM also has announced similar centers for Austin, Texas, and Warren, Mich.

Virginia Data Center Growth

Corporate Office Properties Trust has bought a 34-acre site in Northern Virginia where it plans to build a multimillion dollar data center with Amazon as its anchor tenant, the Washington Business Journal reports.

It would be the latest addition to the county’s expanding data center market, which includes RagingWire Enterprise Solutions, Equinix Inc., and DCT Industrial Trust.

Michigan Nouveau

This can’t be Michigan: A mid-February jobs fair to help hire 40 to 50 new manufacturing employees a month through August; a $100 million plant expansion that will bring 500 new jobs by the end of 2013; and union concessions.

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings is beefing up its Three Rivers, Mich., manufacturing plant through 2013, adding new product lines, including a special axle that will disconnect all-wheel drive when not needed to maximize fuel economy.

During the recession, layoffs at American Axle decimated the Three Rivers plant’s workforce. After an 87-day labor strike in 2008, union members made concessions during contract negotiations, and the workforce dropped from 790 to 465, Michigan Live reports. The new hires will boost the plant’s workforce to 1,300, the largest since 1994.

“We believe the best force for social change is a well-paying job,” says Tim Terrentine, president of Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA, Phoenix, AZ.