FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A free resource for businesses of all sizes in Fresno officially launched on Tuesday.

The Digital Empowerment Center (DEC) will provide support for over 1,500 local businesses and 5,000 micro and small businesses in Fresno. The center is a product of Bitwise Industries in Fresno.

“The idea is that no business is left behind. As our city and our economy grow, the larger businesses are seeing the benefits of that, but all of these small and micro businesses aren’t being able to leverage these digital services to grow their businesses as well so we’ll be offering them resources,” said Thilani Grubel, Vice President of Bitwise Fresno.

Grubel says that a lot of the need for a program like this stemmed from the experiences of COVID-19-related lockdowns in 2020. They realized that a lot of businesses in the City of Fresno didn’t have the knowledge or ability to use the digital services that were available.

Through workshops and classes, the DEC is designed to support micro and small businesses to recover, grow, and develop as they apply the knowledge and tools that they learn.

According to Bitwise, some of the services the DEC program will provide include:

  • Introduction to IT solution.
  • Digital development tools.
  • Navigating revenue-earning potential through internet tools.
  • Website and web application maintenance.
  • Processing digital payments.
  • Digital and web-based record keeping.
  • Custom digital infrastructure services in English, Spanish, Hmong, Punjabi, as well as ADA compliance.
  • Wrap-around support for business owners including transportation.

“We hope this program will be able to provide the much-needed support to local businesses that otherwise would have fallen even farther behind,” said Mayor Dyer. “Many of these businesses sell unique or traditional products that represent our region but don’t have access to the online tools that enable the use of technology within commerce. We encourage these businesses to leverage the digital empowerment center and access the information that can elevate their businesses.”

In a study provided by Bitwise, supporting businesses with digital tools can result in twice as much revenue per employee, nearly four times the revenue growth over the previous year, almost three times more job creation, and more than six times the average employment growth rate.

As far as what most businesses are lacking, Grubel believes that it’s one resource that is available to everyone.

“From my perspective, because I am a millennial I grew up with all this stuff. They are not leveraging social media in the way that they can. It is a free service that can grow their business exponentially if they can just think strategically and work on that”, said Grubel.

The DEC is funded by The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). While this funding is meant for a limited run of the program, Bitwise says they are looking for other sources of funding to try and keep this program running indefinitely.

Those looking to sign up can visit their website (click here).