Small Business Development Shines In Truckee

Small Business Development Center is Part of BlueTechValley

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

The BlueTechValley Initiative was established in Fresno in 2011. It strategically leverages the region’s resources and assets to create a fertile environment for entrepreneurs to turn vision into real world solutions. The initiative has spread through an innovation cluster: the 7 hubs collectively serving 39 counties covering two-thirds of California’s geographic areas.

One of those areas is the Sierra Small Business Development Center in Truckee, CA. California Ag Today met with Chelsea Walterscheid, a program manager for the Sierra Business Council, which runs the Small Business Development Center, to talk about the center.

Walterscheid said that they are looking for people with ideas, whether they have products or just a thought.

“They might want to come in and get some help as far as pitching their ideas. And so we’re here to help in a number of ways, and to reach out to people who might have some technologies,” she said.

There are ideas, of course, in the ag water and energy fields.

Kristin York is the vice president of business innovation at the Sierra Business Council. She appreciates Fresno State’s efforts in putting together the Blue TechValley Innovation Cluster.

“The resources and the support that they offer, especially for a rural region of the state, because rural regions are often overlooked, and I feel like we have a true partnership with Fresno State,” she said.

Humboldt State Looks for Entrepreneurs to Save Energy & Water

BlueTechValley’s Northern-Most Hub Seeks Innovation

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Humboldt State University is among the northern-most hubs of the BlueTechValley Innovation Cluster. It’s part of the interconnection of multiple incubators, or entrepreneurship programs spanning the state serving 39 counties. The solid goal of the BlueTechValley initiative was established at Fresno State, and it’s all about managing water and energy resources in agriculture and other industries.

Lonny Grafman

Lonny Grafman teaches in the Environmental Resources and Engineering Department at Humboldt State, and he’s also the Humboldt State managing director of the BlueTechValley hub there.

“It’s a new program, so that’s pretty exciting,” Grafman said. “BlueTechValley has had a lot of success in Fresno, and what we are is their far northern Californian north coast arm. So, we’re seeking to have the type of success that they’ve had in Fresno,” Grafman said. “Specifically, we’re looking for entrepreneurs, inventors, businesses that are working on agriculture, energy and water efficiency projects.”

The university is looking for entrepreneurs and startups that can address saving water and energy.

“Any start up that has the chance of saving California electric rate payers’ money, we want to talk to them and see if we have resources that could help them to bring their product to market. That is that sweet spot that we’re trying to fill, “Grafman said.

BlueTechValley’s all about entrepreneurs, startups, computer hackers.

“It can be an energy project, it can be an agriculture project, it can be a water project, and it can be something at the nexus of all those things. We love those types of projects,” Grafman said. “As long as we can bring it back to how it saves California rate payers’ money, then we’re excited to explore all types of innovative ideas.