Bank of the West gives $300,000 to support small businesses and jobs in California’s Central Valley

Bank of the West announced $300,000 in grants 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.

Bank of the West grant recipients
(from left to right): Salam Nalia, CEO, Access Plus Capital; Debbie Raven, President and CEO, Valley SBDC; Ralph Martinez, Director of Community Development, Community Action Partnership of Kern; Kurtis Clark, Director, Director Valley Sierra SBDC

“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.

E. & J. Gallo Winery Honored as One of the Best Places to Work in 2018

E. & J. Gallo Winery, the world’s largest family-owned winery, has been honored with a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award, recognizing the Best Places to Work in 2018. Gallo earned the number 14 spot out of 100 companies in 2018, a jump from number 47 out of 50 companies in December 2016.

The Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards program, now in its 10th year, relies solely on the input of current and former employees, who elect to provide feedback on their jobs, work environments and companies via Glassdoor. Additionally, Gallo works hard to provide the best candidate experience and in August 2017, received a Best Place to Interview Candidates’ Choice award by Glassdoor.

“Our employees continue to be our greatest asset. I am proud of our strong company culture and the commitment of our employees who make Gallo a great place to work. We are deeply appreciative that our employees and Glassdoor have recognized Gallo as a great employer,” said Joseph Gallo, Chief Executive Officer and President of E. & J. Gallo Winery.

Gallo’s culture is built on a foundation of innovation, collaboration, and trust that begins with the co-founders and extends throughout the entire organization, showcased by the numerous reviews posted by former and current employees.

“We know today’s job seekers are more informed than ever about where they go to work, researching everything from company culture to career opportunities to pay philosophy and more.

To help people find companies that stand out from the pack, the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards recognize employers that are truly Best Places to Work because they’re determined by those who really know best – the employees,” said Robert Hohman, Glassdoor CEO and co-founder.

“Employers where employees love to work continue to prove that they have a recruiting and business performance advantage. We’re proud to celebrate the 2018 winners as we mark our tenth anniversary of the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards.”

Tina Pollock named CEO of HealthSouth Modesto

Tina Pollock

Tina Pollack has been named chief executive officer of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Modesto, a 50-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital. She assumes her new position on Dec. 18.

Pollack comes to HealthSouth Modesto with more than 23 years’ experience in healthcare having served 16 of those years in leadership roles. Most recently, she served as the chief operating officer of a 423-bed acute care, Level II trauma center.

“Tina’s proven leadership and strong experience in the healthcare field make her an excellent fit to oversee our patient care and daily operations at HealthSouth Modesto,” said Jerry Gray, president of the West region for HealthSouth. “Most importantly, Tina understands our focus and commitment to providing the high-quality care that makes a difference in the lives of our patients.”

She earned a master’s degree in healthcare management from Regis University, a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Texas at Arlington and an associate degree in nursing from Grayson County College.

Law firm adds new attorney

Melissa Bocanegra

The Stockton law firm of Neumiller & Beardslee is pleased to announce the addition of Melissa Bocanegra as an associate attorney. Her areas of practice are business law, litigation, and public agency law.

In 2014, Bocanegra graduated from the University of the Pacific with a B.A. in Political Science and a double minor in Philosophy and Pre-Law. She joined Neumiller & Beardslee in 2017 upon earning her Juris Doctor, with distinction, from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

While at McGeorge, Bocanegra was selected to participate in the Sacramento County Bar Association Diversity Program, became a member of the Traynor Honor Society, and graduated in the top 22% of her class. She also received the Witkin Award for Global Lawyering Skills II and the Dean’s Commendation in Commercial Law. Bocanegra also participated in the Global Lawyering Skills II Oral Argument Competition and was named Top 16 Oral Advocate. In her last year of law school, Bocanegra was selected to join McGeorge’s Moot Court Program, as an Oral Advocate, where she co-authored the Second Best Brief for the Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition and was named Best Oralist Runner-Up for the National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition.

Bocanegra is a Stockton native. She graduated from Weston Ranch High School in 2010. She speaks fluent Spanish. Bocanegra enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her family.

Bocanegra was admitted to practice law in California in 2017. She is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of California.

Amazon Donates $15,000 in winter supplies and holiday gifts to Stockton Unified School District families, students in transition

Amazon associates from the nearby Tracy fulfillment center made the holidays a little brighter for some children and families in Stockton. Amazon partnered with Stockton Unified School District to donate $15,000 worth of holiday gifts for children and families enrolled Families in Transition program. This program helps children who are currently homeless, in transitional housing, or runaway/unaccompanied to ensure they stay in school through what can be a difficult and traumatic experience.

“The holidays can be a difficult time for families and individuals who are homeless or otherwise working to get back on their feet,” said Brian Fontenot, General Manager at Amazon’s Tracy fulfillment center. “We’re glad to have the opportunity to partner with the Student Support Services program through the Stockton School District that serves the community where our associates live and work.”

“This marks the highlight of my time as Acting Superintendent,” said Dan Wright, Acting Superintendent of Stockton Unified School District. “What a beautiful event and so important for our neediest students. This Amazon gift will indeed make a significant difference to many of our families this winter.”