First bilingual incubator opens in Downtown Fresno

FRESNO, California

The "Downtown Business Hub" is the first bilingual incubator in the western United States.

Before a crowd of several hundred business and community leaders... the ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held Tuesday for the "Downtown Business Hub."

The incubator will provide support for high-potential business start-ups.

Ashley Swearengin said, "When you think about the history of our city and the history of entrepreneurship in Fresno California -- we were once, and I believe are becoming again, a beacon of entrepreneurship and innovation."

Attendees toured the new three-story facility, funded by the Fresno area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, PG&E... and the U.S. Department of Commerce-Economic Development Administration, which recently awarded the project a $1.7 million grant.

Thomas Guevara said, "By offering entrepreneurs the tools that they need to innovate and create jobs -- they are a key component in the regional strategies that help our regions recover, grow and become more competitive in the 21st century economy."

Congressman Jeff Dehnam says the project will be an important element in job creation for the Valley... especially in today's economic climate.

Rep. Jeff Dehnam said, "By opening an incubator hub like this, that will help us get those long-term jobs growing in our community, and revitalize parts of our community that so desperately need it."

What makes the incubator unique is that services will be offered in both English and Spanish, to help entrepreneurs who have struggled in growing their businesses because of language barriers.

Dora Westerlund said, "If we assist them in the first year and give them the right tools and the right information for them to grow their business then more than 80-90 chances, I believe, that they will be successful."

8-12 new start-ups will be hosted at the incubator and will receive a variety of business and technical support on a rotating basis.

And thanks to some big checks -- $80,000 from PG&E and $25,000 each from Walmart and Wells Fargo -- business owners will receive specialized training and mentoring during those crucial first couple of years.

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