Economic Development & Community Storytelling
Whitmer & Many Teams
The City of Fresno announced its support of homeownership education and down paymant assistance programs organized by the Fresno chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and The Realtist of Fresno County. Each program -- Llaves de tu Casa and FresnoCONNECT -- offers first-time homebuyer workshops, down payment assistance, financial literacy and counseling, and flexible mortgage projects. Participating partners include Union Bank and Self-Help Enterprises. While open to all, the program is designed to target Latinx and African-American households respectively. Each community significantly lags behind white counterparts in homeownership rates.
Supporting Brown and Black Homeownership
The City of Fresno announced a partnership with the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce (FMBCC) to launch a first-of-its-kind-in-Fresno “microfinancing” platform. The platform fills a much-needed gap in the city’s lending ecosystem, especially for businesses owned by women and people of color. The partnership was the result of my team's involvement with the National League of Cities (NLC) City Innovation Ecosystems program. I helped to recruit the FMBCC partner, organize this webinar with the Deputy Mayor and wrote the city's press release announcement. The city's role, moving forward, will be to identify donors for matching dollars and to amplify the marketing of businesses fundraising on the program.
Launch of a Kiva Financing Hub
In March 2020, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand approved an emergency ordinance to temporarily close all but essential businesses. These conditions would last in some form through mid-2021. To administer Round 1 of the Save Our Small Businesses program, the city used an external partner. By Round 2, we saved public funds by moving the process in-house end-to-end and launching a custom-built application front-end, back-end management tools and applicant data database. The data proved audit-proof and allowed us to generate a detailed report about our small business community. Rathering than distributing grants evenly across all City districts, we pioneered the use of Opportunity Zone addresses to steer funds towards distresed neighborhoods and a quantified improvement in equitable distribution of funds. I wrote all application user requirements and the Round 2 summary data report for the CARES Act Council Sub-Committee.
In late March 2020, the Fresno City Council approved the Save Our Small Businesses (SOSB) program, initially a zero-interest loan later converted to grants funded by the CARES Act. By the end of the year, our team had deployed $4.65M in grants to 735 small businesses representing 3,273 jobs, as well as $500K to 37 non-profits. I wrote the program eligibility guidelines for each of the three SOSB rounds, each with slightly different parameters to improve outcome targeting, as well as requirements for Save Our Non-Profits.
Save Our Small Businesses
The Opportunity Fresno website serves to explain the map of the 47 designated Opportunity Zones in Fresno County, 37 of them in the City of Fresno's sphere of influence. The project was sponsored by a coalition of entities with the objective of mobilizing private equity capital on behalf of a pipeline of "shovel-ready" development projects. I used the My Sidewalk data visualization platform to tell a data story about the region's potential and its challenges.
This was the last element in a three-year roadmap to create an end-to-end skills community. We white-labeled a Learning Management System that supported a blended learning approach with both on-demand and live online training. We launched with three topics and sold $5K of workshops in the first month, a strong proof-of-concept showing. I supervised the design and technical rollout as well as the content production team and created all product marketing collateral.
E-Learning for Makers
The challenge here was constantly shifting content needs as the production cycle advanced. The site sold tickets for the flagship U.S. events and helped a global audience discover a worldwide network of more than 200 events. This redesign focused on providing a varied toolbox of mix-and-match content production components for the marketing team. I oversaw design and engineering and collaborated on branding with the business stakeholders.
A from-scratch development of an online maker community built thanks to a $1M+ strategic partnership with Intel. A headless Drupal implementation, the site was later rebranded Make: Community. I was the product owner and managed the Intel relationship.
As a white-label of the Job Board.IO platform, this launch was technically simple but filled an important hole in Make:'s workforce development strategy by demonstrating a worldwide job market for maker skills. Paid job postings covered platform costs within six months of launch. See also the evolution of the Make: branding to combine the parent brand with service names; this pattern was repeated across the network in anticipation of eventual consolidation of all domains on Make.co. I vetted the platform and oversaw rollout in collaboration with the sales team.
Online Community + UGC
Getting Out the Vote
Launched in response to declining digital advertising sales, the Make: Membership program leveraged the existing library of digital magazines hosted on Blue Toad and discounted Maker Faire ticket sales to create a paid digital content offering. The primary challenge was SSO integration across multiple platforms and payment gateways. I managed all elements of the rollout including product marketing and revenue responsibility.
The challenge for this campaign was maintaining momentum after the 2008 presidential election. I started by first securing grant funding from the Carnegie Corp. and the Pew Center on the States. I was responsible for all voter outreach communications including emails, social, in-person events, print collateral and advocacy materials such as this case study.
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Reporting on a quirky annual local event and evolving maker culture in Vallejo, CA