Biz Buzz: Grant will allow Cuesta College business center to expand

The Business Assistance Center at Cuesta College recently received a $205,000 annual renewable grant to expand its services beyond San Luis Obispo County to Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Effective July 1, the center will change its name to the Business and Entrepreneurship Center (BEC), and it will serve as the headquarters for targeted projects and services to address the particular small business needs of the region.

“This is huge for the college,” said Israel Dominguez, director of the Business Assistance Center, adding that the statewide Business Entrepreneurship Center initiative is modeled after the Business Assistance Center program created at Cuesta College in January 2009.

The BEC will work primarily with established businesses and larger business organizations, such as chambers of commerce, to increase jobs and sales. It will provide advanced business technical assistance; research, plan and hold entrepreneurial conferences, workshops and seminars; and help facilitate partnership and collaborations with business, industry, education and government.

Cuesta College is one of seven colleges in the state to receive the grant, which is one of 10 initiatives supported under the California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development program.

— Julia Hickey

United Way of San Luis Obispo County is seeking nominations for the Innovation Award, a $5,000 cash award that recognizes a local nonprofit organization for creative and effective approaches to meeting critical social needs in education, income and health. The award is sponsored by Chevron, Don Maruska & Co. Inc. and IQMS. The deadline for nominations is May 14. Award criteria and a nomination form are available online at www.unitedwayslo.org.

The Innovation Award, which will be given for the eighth year, is separate from the United Way’s annual Community Impact Fund grant awards. For details, contact Charlene Rosales at 541-1234, ext. 14, or crosales@unitedwayslo.org.

— Julia Hickey