SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Bank of the West announced $300,000 in grants today to support small business growth and job creation in California's Central Valley.
Four nonprofits will receive $75,000 each to support entrepreneurs and small business owners and also spur regional job growth. The grants will directly fund programs that start, strengthen, and grow businesses from San Joaquin to Kern Counties.
"The grants will help foster an ecosystem for startups and existing small businesses in the Central Valley, where small business formation and job growth lag behind the rest of California's economy," said Jenny Flores, Head of Community Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility at Bank of the West. "Small businesses account for a large part of any community's economic activity. Through Bank of the West's investments, network of partnerships and technical assistance, we are committed to supporting the success and long-term sustainable growth of the region."
The nonprofits receiving the grants are:
- Access Plus Capital (Fresno) serving Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare Counties
- Community Action Partnership of Kern (Bakersfield) serving Kern County
- Stanislaus Business Alliance (Modesto) serving Stanislaus County
- Valley Small Business Development Corporation (VSBDC) (Fresno) serving Fresno, Kings and Tulare Counties
Earlier in the year, Bank of the West hosted community roundtables with participants from more than a dozen agencies including the Fresno Downtown Business Hub, Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, the Small Business Administration, and the City of Fresno's Economic Development Department to better understand economic needs and priorities specific to the Central Valley.
Fresno, Modesto and Stockton currently rank among the largest 100 cities in the United States, and Central Valley communities are projected to continue in the top 10 for population growth in California. Community development advocates highlighted the large number of families with young children and the Valley's diverse immigrant populations as a powerful economic market. At the same time, the seasonal nature of the region's agricultural jobs and the large number of non-English speaking immigrants add to the Valley's unique community development challenges. Nonprofits noted the importance of public-private partnerships and local investments to support the business growth, income stability, and asset building that are vital to the region's economic well-being.
The Bank-funded programs are expected to serve approximately 330 entrepreneurs and small business owners with direct services such as technical assistance, one-to-one professional counseling, financial record keeping, cash flow management, and workforce training.
Nonprofits were invited to apply for the $75,000 grants in October, and recipients were selected based on their track record of positive impact and approach to scaling programs or reaching rural clients who may not have easy access to small business services and technical support. The Central Valley Community Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation participated in selecting the final awardees.
"The Central Valley offers great opportunities for businesses and attracts talented entrepreneurs and companies from across the state. Investments and resources from community partners will continue to play an important role in building an infrastructure and economy that benefits everyone," said Dora Westerlund, CEO of the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation.
About Bank of the West
Bank of the West is a financial services company headquartered in San Francisco with $89.8 billion in assets as of September 30, 2017. Founded in 1874, Bank of the West provides a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services through more than 600 branches and offices in 23 states and digital channels. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, a leading bank in Europe, which has a presence in 74 countries with more than 192,000 employees. To learn more about Bank of the West, visit About Us via BankoftheWest.com.
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