SELMA – If you’ve ever wanted to start your own business or help your current employees build their skills, where do you start? Business and Workforce Consultant Shawna Glazener came to City Hall on Nov. 16 to answer such questions during a small business workshop sponsored by the Selma District Chamber of Commerce.
Since the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board also operates the Workforce Connection One-Stops throughout Fresno County, Glazener also works with job seekers needing training or looking for work.
“We do a lot of different things and wear a lot of different hats,” Glazener said. She detailed the number of agencies she works with and free services they offer.
“We partner with 12 other community organizations focusing on the needs of a business. One of those is working with the Fresno4Biz partnership,” she said. “We focus on business incentives because we want companies to stay here and grow here and thrive here.”
Glazener said most business owners and potential employees are unaware of their services such as job candidate recruitment and hiring, coordinating with the Economic Development Center to bring companies to the area and operating such programs as the Upskill Training Program.
“Say maybe you have a cashier that you want to train for management, or train the cashier in another area of the business. We can help with that.”
A human resources hotline is also available so businesses can get help answering basic questions such as hiring and firing or OSHA questions.
“We have employers with one to two employees and others with hundreds of employees using the hotline. It’s completely confidential so they won’t share your information,” she said.
Glazener said even if a business decides to downsize or close, they can help with that process as well.
“Hopefully you never get to that point, but we have a layoff aversion and transition team. If you’re company is looking at downsizing or maybe you have to lay off people or close your doors, we have a rapid response team.”
Since there is a bevy of information on their website and on the Fresno4Biz website, Glazener said she’ll even help business owners find what they’re looking for if they need help tracking down information online.
Another program Glazener can assist employers with is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
“If you hire employees from a certain group, such as someone who’s been laid off and is receiving unemployment benefits or recently discharged veterans, you’ll get tax credits for hiring them.”
Workforce Connection can help job seekers fill out resumes and attend workshops such as financial management for when they’re laid off, she said. “Also, we train them on soft skills to make sure they’re job ready. We also provide a job readiness and skill enhancement workshops.”
Glazener said they work with both job seekers and businesses so that they can help the local economy thrive.
“Our business needs are what drives our job-seeker services because again, we want to make sure the businesses can stay here and thrive.”
Local business owners that attended the workshop said it was helpful to find out not only what resources are available, but to connect with each other and meet the people behind these agencies.
Congressman David Valadao’s Field Representative Eileen De Raadt also shared what their office can assist with at the federal level and Selma’s Administrative Analyst Frankie C. Olivares explained how he could help small businesses accomplish at the city level.
“We can help you obtain information from the Small Business Administration,” De Raadt said. “It’s a lot quicker for a Congressional office like ours to get in contact with these people. So if you don’t want to wait forever, then you can come through us. Also we can draft letters of support when applying for federal grants and loans,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t understand those resources are available to them.”
De Raadt said another key issue they can help with is when employees are working toward citizenship. “We can step in and help you work with any federal agency. Then we act like a liaison for you. People come to us when they’ve run out of options and have done everything they can. We try to get you answers.”
Olivares let the attendees know that he, too, can be a resource with the city of Selma as a business gets started, or looks to grow.
Early Childhood Discovery Centers owner Ken Herron also attended the workshop.
“You can tell that with these people, their hearts are really in it and they’re here to really help you.”
Herron is also a former banker and is looking to get into financial consulting. He said attending the workshop was eye-opening regarding training as it can be a challenge to hire quality employees.
“Hiring good people is a challenge and also trying to make people aware that we’re there.”
Irene Haro attended and said she’s applying for her business license and looking to expand her catering service.
“I’m always in the kitchen and I love baking and making tortillas and cooking, or I’m bored.”
Haro catered at the recent Tejano Concert and said that was a good way to get the word out about her business. And like many small businesses, it’s just family members helping out now.
“I’m going to file for my business name. I’ve got my insurance and I’m ready to go. It’s just my daughters' helping,” she said. “I’m going to call [Glazener] because I want to go to the Fresno State Small Business and get more doors open for me.”