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Aguirre promoting Ceres as economic development manager
• Initial time spent getting to know business owners
Julian Aguirre
Julian Aguirre, a 14-year Ceres resident, is now the city of Ceres’ Redevelopment and Economic Development Manager. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Since being hired in December as the city’s new redevelopment and economic development manager, Julian Aguirre has spent time building a rapport with Ceres business owners and managers.

He aims to “bridge the gap” between City Hall and businesses.

His is an important position, charged with helping Ceres attract new business and industry as well as assist existing businesses in growing the local economy.

“My goal is to be more engaging with the businesses,” said Aguirre. “Since I got here I’ve been out to engage with several businesses to see how we can be supportive to them. A lot of their business is slow right now. ‘How do we get more business?’ is everybody’s question.”

Aguirre replaces Tamra Spade who was economic development manager from October 2022 until her dismissal in September 2023. Previously the position was held by Anthony Sims for five months and Steve Hallam for seven years.

Improving a business’s marketing strategies and physical appearances are among his goals.

Aguirre will be working with Opportunity Stanislaus, the Workforce Alliance and local Chambers of Commerce to create workshops to help small businesses.

“My job is to go out there, introduce myself, be the voice and then getting them connected to the resources that they need. It’s a team effort to grow the city of Ceres and its businesses.”

Aguirre also wants to facilitate growth in downtown Ceres. He also has been reaching out to those in the grocery industry to see about bringing a grocery store to the west side of Ceres in the Westpointe area.

To improve businesses, he’s also helping to organize the fourth annual “Bridging the Gap” event sponsored by the city of Ceres, Ceres Chamber of Commerce, Opportunity Stanislaus and Small Business Development Corporation. The event includes networking opportunities, exclusive workshops led by consultants, and provide valuable information that local businesses need to grow and succeed.

He plans to attend next month’s ICSC Conference in Monterey where the city is scheduled to have a “meet and greet” session with big businesses. Aguirre will be presenting business leaders with a list of lots available for commercial development. He believes that Ceres’ central location in the county being right on Highway 99 and the future site of an ACE train platform are plusses to attract future development.

Aguirre has spent 14 years living in Ceres and while he doesn’t come from a background of economic development, worked as a manager with the Stanislaus County Community Service Agency (CSA). During his tenure he collaborated with diverse entities such as the Public Defender’s Office, the CARE team (Homeless Outreach), In-Home Supportive Services and Adult Protective Services. He also managed the Modesto Hotel Shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aguirre earned a bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies which he said gave him the foundation for a strong understanding of the law and its implications in social service settings.

Before working for the county, he honed his skills and expertise working in both the private and public sectors. They include working for Health Net and Behavioral Health and Recovery Services; and as a program manager for I Community Housing and Shelter Services.

“I worked to create conditions for economic growth and improved quality of life by expanding the capacity of individuals, businesses, and communities to maximize the use of their talents and skills to support innovation, job creation, and private investment. These experiences have equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of social service dynamics and the significance of community support.”

Aguirre was born in Stockton and raised in Modesto.

“I love Ceres. My heart is serving the community, it’s what I do. I also am the administrator for Modesto Jubilee, which is a faith based organization.”

Aguirre says family is the center of his life as a husband, father to four, and grandfather to five.

“I cherish spending quality time with my wife, four children, five grandchildren, and our Miniature Aussie. These moments bring immense joy and fulfillment to my days.”