Boosting economy

As thousands of Fresno State students graduate this month, most of them will be faced with the same predicament – finding a job in Fresno County, where the unemployment rate has risen into the double digits.

A campus-based organization may soon help decrease Fresno County’s 11.1 percent unemployment rate by providing vital statistical information to the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) serving Fresno County.

Through a partnership announced April 25, the Center for Economic Research and Education in Central California (CERECC) will provide research that could help the EDC draw companies to the Valley and help local businesses create more jobs.

“The problem the EDC was facing is that many of these companies, before moving or expanding in the area, need to know more about the area,” said CERECC research director Antonio Avalos, Ph.D., said.

EDC will refer outside research projects to the center and CERECC will provide them with customized research on everything from income level to consumption behavior.

“We don’t know what industries are expanding and contracting or what type of jobs are increasing in number, so these are some of the key things we are trying to find out,” Avalos said.

Avalos, who is also chair of the Department of Economics, said the partnership will also allow for more students to work in the center and gain the experience of working with applied economic research.

The agreement mandates that the center contribute “$25,000 in-kind annually in products and services designed to assist with the economic research needs of the EDC.”

“The role that the university through CERECC is going to play is providers of research and the mission of EDC is to bring business,” Avalos said.

The CERECC office is located in the Peters Business Building and was launched over a year ago as an ancillary unit of the Department of Economics.

It also provides economic analysis for local business, community groups and policymakers, and it provides educational material to local educators.

Dean of the College of Social Sciences Luz Gonzalez ,Ph.D., helped bring CERECC to campus and said that one of the center’s most important goals is to help improve the quality of life in the San Joaquin Valley.

“We are an engaged university,” Gonzalez said. “The College of Social Sciences is constantly assessing the needs of our community and finding ways to partner with the private and public agencies.”

The mission of CERECC is to integrate and utilize the expertise of the economics department on a broader regional basis and to enhance economic development in the region.

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