Like many other cities, San Jacinto, Calif., has been hit hard by the recession. To mitigate losses to the local economy, the city is connecting local businesses to organizations that offer free or low-cost job training, financing and utility rebate programs, and other assistance. San Jacinto's businesses are surviving, but, as the city's Economic Development Manager Sharon Merritt puts it, "things are getting very scary." "We need to do everything possible to help our companies stay in business and retain their employees," she says

Therefore, in January, the city held a half-day workshop that gave an overview of services available to small businesses. Attendees learned about financing opportunities with Tech Coast Angels, a private investment group, and Southern California Reinvestment CDFI, a three-county banker's loan consortium program. They also met with business consultants from SCORE, Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship, and California Manufacturing Technology Consulting, and learned about energy conservation programs available through local water, gas and electric suppliers. The workshop was not designed to solve specific problems, but it gave attendees a clear idea of the amount of help available to them in difficult times.

The workshop required very little financial investment by the city, Merritt says. "All the speakers were free. Other than postage and printing, all we needed was staff for registration. It was a very low-cost effort," she says. "I cannot tell you how many attendees thanked me. They had no ideas these resources were available."

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