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published on February 5, 2016 - 12:34 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) is teaming up with UC Merced’s Small Business Development Center to expand services within the region. 


“Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development has a nationally-recognized and award-winning rural outreach program that aligns with the Small Business Development Center mission,” said Diane Howerton, regional director of the UC Merced center. “This will be an opportunity for us to continue to leverage and expand services throughout Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties, the four counties served by Fresno State.”

The two groups recently announced their expanded partnership and named Eduardo Gonzalez as the new full-time director for the Small Business Development Center at the Fresno campus. 

He previously served as program manager with OCED and provided support in planning, developing and facilitating grant-funded projects for the office, including the San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center. The project won a national excellence award for its efforts to focus on building a community-connected campus.  

“Gonzalez, particularly being bilingual and having background and experience as a small business owner brings a depth of talent and abilities to serve as the new director,” Howerton said. 

Gonzalez has years of experience implementing economic development activities and programs by connecting public agencies in underserved communities with experts who can provide specialized consulting. Target areas include business services, clean energy, economic development, health and human services, housing and nonprofit capacity. 

“We are very excited about this expanded partnership with UC Merced,” said Mike Dozier, executive director at OCED. “We have partnered on numerous successful projects and events in the past six years. The Small Business Development Center is a natural fit with the vision and mission of our office. We are familiar with the other outstanding centers in the UC Merced region and look forward to being part of their future success.”

The center is a nationally-accredited program assisting business owners and entrepreneurs while addressing issues of job creation and retention. It is largely funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

During the past five years, the Fresno State center, under the direction of UC Merced’s Small Business Development Center Regional Network, generated more than $43 million in new capital, aided in the creation and retention of 714 jobs with 258 new and expanding businesses and served 2,505 clients with 13,205 consulting hours. 


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