FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce awarded six small businesses at their first ever Central Valley Small Business Awards Breakfast.
These Fresno-based businesses were honored for the employment growth they have provided to the community.
The youngest winner was 14-year-old entrepreneur Jalen Bailey.
He shares, "Jalen's Bakery started when I was 8 years old. I was thinking of a way to buy me and my mother a house."
Jalen started his online business in 2016. Since then, he has shipped hundreds of cookies worldwide.
Director of California's Office of Small Business Advocate, Tara Linn Gray, is motivated by Jalen's story.
"To me, it underscores the importance of entrepreneurship training, the importance of parents planting seeds and telling their children that they really can do anything," says Tara.
There are 4.2 million small businesses in California -- a state that itself is the fifth largest economy in the world.
Keynote speaker Dee Dee Myers was Press Secretary to President Clinton. Now, she works to drive economic development in California.
"Hundreds of thousands of small businesses here that really keep the economy turning, and we the state of California and the office of business and economic development really wanted to support those businesses, particularly in the wake of COVID," says Myers.
A diverse crowd of nearly 100 at the event included members of the local Hispanic and Hmong Chambers of Commerce.
"When we recognize and honor our small business and the commitment that they have to our community, we are helping to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to step up and do the same," says Kaya Herron with the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce.
The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce plans to hold the Central Valley Small Business Awards for years to come.
14-year-old entrepreneur awarded at Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce's Awards