Chris Rosander has helped launch astronauts into space and told presidents what to do with their budget. But helping local folks realize their dreams gives him the most satisfaction.
“I’ve had an exciting career,” he said. “But none of it compares to what we do here; we help people day after day.”
As director of UC Merced’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Rosander and his team help small businesses by providing technical and management assistance. Whether it’s outlining a business plan or filling out trademark paperwork, employees from the SBDC’s seven centers throughout the Central Valley walk budding entrepreneurs through the step-by-step process of starting up or expanding a business.
“Most people start a business without knowledge of what it takes to make it work, and the failure rate is dismal,” he said. “They come into our offices and hopefully leave with a better understanding.”
After working at Boeing, as a legislative assistant in the United States Congress, and as a budget examiner with the White House Office of Management and Budget, Rosander put in nine years as owner and operator of two start-up companies.
Then, a year after UC Merced was awarded the Small Business Administration grant to support the growth of small business in the 15-county region of Central California, Rosander became the SBDC’s regional director.
The center aims to create 400 new businesses and 3,500 new jobs in the Central Valley, said Rosander, a Fresno native.
“One of the university’s goals is to foster economic development in the Valley. The SBDC is a conduit of that goal and will provide an immediate impact,” he explained.
The impact is already being felt in the region. One of Rosander’s proudest SBDC achievements is Fernando Rodriguez’s story.
Rodriguez owns Merced’s Carniceria Vallarta, and with help from Mike Souza at the local SBDC service center, he expanded his small market into a full-scale grocery catering to the area’s Hispanic population.
“Every single day, there’s a success story,” said Rosander. “Our motto is, “your success is our business.”