University Economic Development Association

Mike Dozier,
Executive Director
Office of Community & Economic Development
CSU Fresno

California’s Central Valley, otherwise known as the San Joaquin Valley is significant to our nation’s agricultural sector appropriately identified as the “breadbasket” of our nation. Mike Dozier has worked in helping diversify and sustain it for nearly 30 years in a variety of roles in his work with community and economic development, housing and redevelopment agencies. His passion for the Central Valley has lead him to a role in helping align the resources of California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) in support of competitiveness and prosperity of the Central Valley. Mike is dedicated to the Central Valley. It shows as he is figuratively up to his eyebrows in programs, projects and services, from serving officially on a variety of local, regional and statewide committees in support of economic development to volunteering his time to improve this part of the Golden State. He shares his insights on the unique efforts and achievements of the University’s initiatives and partnerships.

What is the Mission of the Office of Community and Economic Development at the University?

The Office of Community and Economic Development is an on-campus division, it is dedicated to aligning the university’s intellectual capacity and innovation-driven economic development initiatives to improve the competitiveness and prosperity of the region. It does so through a variety of ways including: economic development innovations, community development and connecting the University and the community. In addition, the Office works to:

  • Increase Economic Innovation throughout the eight-county region comprised of Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare
  • Develop effective systems that promote Business and Industry Strategy
  • Enhance Public Policy in favor of the eight-county region
  • Create strategic partnerships focused on Community Development
  • Develop educational programs that empower the Leaders of tomorrow

Additionally, our role is to link, align and leverage the University and its resources to the needs of the community, which is done through numerous programs and initiatives such as:

  • The California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley
  • Smart Valley Places
  • San Joaquin Valley Broadband Consortium
  • San Joaquin Valley Housing Collaborative
  • Rural Development Center
  • Fresno State Connect
  • Cal Valley Tech iHub
  • San Joaquin Valley Industry Cluster Analysis

Also the Office of Community and Economic Development is a partner in the Cal Valley Tech iHub; We also manage the Fresno State Connect program that links community businesses and non-profit organizations to the University schools and faculty; partners with the California Association for Local Economic Development and the California Academy for Economic Development to conduct the annual course “Introduction to Economic Development,” Certificate Program, such as “Learn the Keys to Successful Economic Development,” course. We also operate the San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center and manage the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) serving Central California through a subcontract with the Central Valley Business Incubator.

Who uses the resources of the Office and why?

We try to remain comprehensive in our approach to providing resources to the San Joaquin Valley. The Partnership has ten work groups that deal with just about every issue the Valley faces. Our strength is to connect, collaborate and advocate. We do that by assembling a great number of partners from the private sector, public sector, non-governmental, and education. We are the connector/collaborator and our partners are the experts. We rely on them to bring the resource when needed. We are then able to identify the need and the resources and deploy them accordingly.

Do other campuses in the California State University system or campuses in the University of California system have similar offices or is the Fresno State program unique?

We are fairly unique. Our friends at Chico State do an excellent job at community and economic development, but they don’t have the regional collaboration focus that we do. There aren’t many in the country doing what we do. CSU Fresno State President Welty has a strong community engagement philosophy that allows us to address these issues with his blessing. Otherwise, I’m not aware of any other CSU campus that has anything close to our type of office. We are able to do what we do with a funding from the University leveraged 6 to 1 with grants from state, federal agencies and a state foundation.

Where do you see the Central Valley economy in 5 to 10 years and why?

We have been hit by a number of economic issues but housing was the real killer. We sold our collective soles to growth without thought to the future. I think that has changed and we will be better for it in the future. We know that housing by itself will not make us prosperous. We should start to realize that retail is not a panacea either.

We need more better paying wages. I’m not talking about paying someone well without skills to go along with that pay. I’m talking about having higher skills and better jobs. We should be taking advantage of our biggest strength – Agriculture. We need more value added agricultural jobs. We need more production and exporting. I think we finally get that and there are several entities working together in all sectors, as we speak. Value Added Ag is a focus of the Partnership. We held a Regional Economic Summit in March and laid out our action steps. I’m happy to say that there is a lot of work taking place in this area.

I think the Valley has the opportunity to really explode in economic prosperity, but it will require collaboration.

Where do you see the services of the Office in 5 years, 10 years and why?

I hope the office is still here at Fresno State working with the region on issues common to the Valley. There needs to be an objective office that can coordinate resources and experts. Every orchestra needs a Conductor. I see us playing that role for some time.

Identify a quote that best describes your work ethic.

Sorry, I need two:

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit” Harry Truman 34th President of the United States

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need” Mick Jaggar Singer/Songwriter Rolling Stones

Were you born and raised in California? If so, where? If not, what brought you to the Golden State and when?

I was born in Pennsylvania. I moved to Georgia at the age of 15. I went into the Air Force at the age of 20. I was stationed in Texas (training), Mississippi and England. After the Air Force, I was going to play football at a small NAIA school in New Mexico. I stayed one day and kept going west. I ended up in Merced with $25 and an empty gas tank (my third car of the trip). I took roots in Merced. I graduated from Merced College and CSU Stanislaus. I got married and had a kid. My first job was at the City of Livingston as Assistant to the City Manager/Planning Director. I migrated south over the past 30 years. People who grow up here tend to complain about the Valley. I have lived a number of places. I like it here better than any of the other places I have lived. If the air quality was better, this would be an even better place to live.

What or where is your favorite location in California to visit?

I really like going to San Diego. The weather is great. There is a lot to do and see. Downtown is a great example of what redevelopment can do for a city. Every time I go there it seems to get better. I like the Bay Area as well. I loathe LA! Name one thing that you like best about your job I get to work on projects that benefit the Valley over the long haul.

What keeps you awake at night?

Occasionally I have a cat that likes to sit on my face at night, but otherwise there is nothing keeping me up at night. I sleep very well.


For further information, contact the Office of Community and Economic Development at CSU Fresno at 5010 N. Woodrow Avenue, Suite 200 M/S WC 142 Fresno, California 93740 Phone: 559-294-6021 Fax: 559-294-6024