The University of California, Merced Small Business Development Center announced a new partnership with the Office of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State to expand services in Central California.

“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.”

Eduardo Gonzalez has been named as the new, full-time director for Fresno State’s Small Business Development Center. Gonzalez joined the Office of Community and Economic Development in 2011 as a program manager. He provided support in planning, developing and facilitating grant-funded projects for the office. He was instrumental in helping the office earn the national Excellence in Community-Connected Campus Award for its San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center.

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, finance, grant writing, health and human services, housing, nonprofit capacity, planning, project design and construction, trade development, transportation and water infrastructure.

“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.

“We are very excited about this expanded partnership with UC Merced,” said Mike Dozier, executive director for the Office of Community and Economic Development. “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 job creation and job retention program that assists business owners and entrepreneurs with growth-oriented business strategies. The UC Merced Small Business Development Center network is a nationally accredited program, largely funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The federally funded program is administered through the UC Merced Small Business Development Center Regional Network. During the past five years, the Fresno State center, working in Fresno, Madera, Tulare and Kings Counties, generated more than $43 million in new capital, aided in the creation or retention of 714 jobs with 258 new and expanding businesses and served 2,505 clients with 13,205 consulting hours.

For more information, contact: Eduardo Gonzalez at 559.278.0542 or, or the UC Merced center at 559.241.7413.

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