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Collaborative Efforts in California Turn Wildfire Devastation Into Economic Growth

Exterior, Calaveras Business Resource Center Susan Weatherby, owner of Mokelumne Hills Nuts, Mokelumne Hill, CA

Like the Phoenix rising from the burning flames to restore and make anew, so have local efforts in California help turn destruction into prosperity.

In 2015, the Butte Fire destroyed 70,868 acres. In the aftermath, a partnership between the Calaveras Chamber of Commerce, Calaveras County, and the California Association for Local Economic Development led them to reach out to EDA with a plan to rebuild and restore.

As a result, in 2016 EDA awarded a $250,000 grant to the Central Sierra Economic Development District to help staff, equip, and implement workshops at the Calaveras Business Resource Center (CBRC). A building owned by the county was offered as the local match.

In April 2017, the CBRC opened its doors to the public. This “One Stop Resource Center" provides educational opportunities to start a new business, sustain an existing business and grow a local business’s customer base beyond the county. It also connects business owners through networking and collaboration and provides professional support that helps businesses navigate operating a business in the county.

The CBRC, to date, has worked on over 30 substantive projects with business owners, assisting them with business financing, planning and hiring. Over the past two years, assisted businesses created 24 jobs, retained 54 jobs, and made $181,500 in private investment.

“Through the support of the EDA, the creation of the CBRC fostered a culture of collaboration that has been the catalyst for economic development in Calaveras County,” Staci Johnston, CEO Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce said.

The CBRC has become a model for other rural California counties who are establishing their own business resource center.

In 2018, EDA received $587 million in supplemental funding available for disaster recovery grants in areas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and wildfires and other federally declared natural disasters occurring in calendar year 2017.

For more information on this current disaster funding opportunity, including FAQ’s and how to apply, please visit our Disaster Supplemental Funding page.

Tags: Disaster

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