For years the Small Business Development Center for our county was run by Bakersfield College. A cut in funding suspended services through BC three years ago.
Now, Cal State Bakersfield has taken over the operation.
Michelle Bicera says while empty store fronts may be a sign of economic hardship, she sees opportunity.
"There are so many landlords out there that are willing to negotiate," said Bicera. "You can get in on a great deal, lock it in for a couple of years, then get started."
After working in property management for more than a decade, Bicera branched out on her own.
"Many of the companies that work here either do commercial, or residential [property management]," she said. "It's very rare for them to do both."
Bicera created 'Total Property Management,' which offers both.
"We don't give them fish, we teach them how to fish," said John Pryor, the interim director of the Small Business Development Center.
"Everyone who has a dream or a vision about starting a new business has an awful lot of expertise," Pryor said. "But all too often they don't understand the management side of the business."
Public funding is matched by money from private sources and local businesses so the SBDC can provide consulting and training, free of charge, to anyone with a dream to be a small business owner.
"I'm a single mom, too. I have 2 little girls," Bicera said. "I really wanted the flexibility of having my own business."
Bicera calls the SBDC her 'guiding light,' helping her push through paperwork, and into the doors of a business she calls her own.
Bicera is the SBDC's first 'sucess story' since services were revitalized in January.
Services are also offered to those looking grow an existing small business.
For more information on the SBDC, visit the website: http://www.csub.edu/sbdc/