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Event imparts advice to existing and budding entrepreneurs
Bridging Gap at CCC
Ceres Mayor Javier Lopez emceed Friday’s “Bridging the Gap” business event at the Ceres Community Center. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Approximately 150 people, mostly business owners and those who want to start up a business, attended the third annual Bridging the Gap event at the Ceres Community Center Friday morning.

Co-sponsored by the city of Ceres, Ground-UP Productions, Valley Sierra SBDC and the Ceres Chamber of Commerce, the event offered regional resources to those currently in business or pre-venturing into entrepreneurship.

The event opened with Ceres Mayor Javier Lopez interviewing Maria Rios, who with husband Luis Escobedo own A Professional Garage Door Service in Ceres. The mayor interviewed in both English and Spanish to accommodate the audience. Rios was asked about her experience starting a business and explained that it was scary at first since they didn’t know the first thing about how to start a business or how to get out the word. She mentioned how radio ads got the phones ringing.

The couple ran their business out of their Ceres home until 2022, when they attended last year’s event and had told the mayor that they were looking to expand into a commercial space. Lopez introduced the couple of Renee Ledbetter who found them a location at 1172 Marchy Lane in Ceres’ Miller Industrial Park within 60 days.

The Ceres couple has also developed a lubricant for garage doors that is now being sold in the Ceres Walmart Supercenter.

The event broke off into two sessions, one on marketing strategies hosted by Ledbetter and the other focused on business start-ups. The second sessions offered were on “Next Level Social Media” and “Business Leadership.”

Ledbetter spoke about the benefits of belonging to the Ceres Chamber of Commerce.

Irene Ortiz, owner of Ground UP Promotions and vice president of the Ceres Chamber, spoke about being a small business owner and how she and Mayor Lopez worked together to create this event.

Christopher Hoem, who is the city’s Community Development Director, spoke about how the city wants businesses to come to Ceres.

The event wrapped up when Mayor Lopez interviewed Maisie Silva of the Valley Sierra SBDC to share information on free consulting services to business owners. Businesses interested in those services can get in touch with Silva by emailing or calling 209-422-6423.