High Speed Rail works to attract help from Valley businesses

FRESNO, California

The California High Speed Rail Authority is working to get local businesses to cash in on the project.

The message is high speed rail is coming, and instead of fighting it, local businesses are being encouraged to get a piece of the pie. That's what Debbie Hunsaker is trying to do. Her business, Alert-O-Lite is right in the path of the train, and will have to move. An early critic of the project, she's now decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

"I'm a firm believer in making lemonade out of lemons and, I'd rather be proactive than reactive," said Hunsaker. "The more prepared I am the more likely I am to get a piece of this project."

And she is now encouraging other local businesses to get busy.

Hunsaker added, "It's going to impact us it's going to transform us, my prime interest is to make sure the businesses in our community get a piece and are able to participate."

And by law, small businesses are being given an inside track.

Leann Eager of the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation explained, "With the first section there's about $1.8 billion coming to the Central Valley and 30% of that has to be to small businesses. So that's $800 million coming to small businesses in Fresno."

Robert Padilla, the Small Business Advocate for the rail authority says all businesses will benefit. The high speed rail authority projects the first section of work will provide about 20 thousand jobs in the Fresno area, for at least five years.

"The project itself is going to bring a lot of people to this area," said Padilla. "Construction crews, these construction crews are going to live here, they need homes, they need apartments they need shopping centers, dry cleaning, they are going to the movies they are going to buy food the small businesses will feel that impact in a big way."

Groundbreaking is now projected to take place in July. Businesses interested in providing a direct service to the project can find information on how to register and get certified on the California High Speed Rail Authority website at www.calhighspeedrail.ca.gov

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