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A 'Digital Empowerment Center' aims to bring Fresno businesses into digital world

 Bitwise Industries offices in downtown Fresno, Calif.
Esther Quintanilla
Bitwise Industries offices in downtown Fresno, Calif.

Read the transcript for this report below.

ELIZABETH ARAKELIAN, HOST: The City of Fresno and Bitwise Industries are partnering together to support small businesses. KVPR’s Esther Quintanilla tells us what the “Digital Empowerment Center” aims to do.

ESTHER QUINTANILLA: The center’s main goal is to bring small and micro businesses in the city into the digital world.

Thilani Grubel is the vice president of Bitwise Industries in Fresno. She says the initiative was envisioned for small businesses that suddenly had to turn to digital outreach at the start of the pandemic.

THILANI GRUBEL: I mean, think of your local taqueria that has a small running that these are the people that we're looking to serve. These are the people that were affected when we all shut down in 2020.

QUINTANILLA: The million dollar grant was provided through funds the city received from the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021. Grubel says the grant’s investment in the community will boost Fresno’s economy.

GRUBEL: That's why that funding's coming here because we have so many small and micro businesses that are overlooked. So this allows us to serve those folks.

QUINTANILLA: The center is expected to help more than 15 hundred Fresno-based businesses over the next year. Some resources include mentoring, website building and other informational workshops - all of which are free to small businesses. For KVPR News, I’m Esther Quintanilla

Esther Quintanilla reports on diverse communities for KVPR through the Central Valley News Collaborative, which includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.