EMP is Down with Downtown Fresno!

Written by: Sarina Hernandez

The Entrepreneur Mentor Program made a trip to downtown Fresno this Friday and were led on a tour of the Fulton Mall by Craig Scharton. Craig is the owner of Peeve’s Public House and Local Market located on the Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno, where the food, drink and products in the pub and market are 100% local. He is also the interim CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, an organization dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Fresno by improving the physical environment, strengthening business and engaging the community. Craig is also currently teaching the Urban Entrepreneurship course at Fresno State. Previously, Craig served as the Director of the City of Fresno’s Downtown and Community Revitalization department, was CEO of the Central Valley Business Incubator and represented District One on Fresno’s City Council at the age of 25.

On our Fulton Mall tour we learned about the different buildings and the history of each. We saw many vacant storefronts for sale or rent with a potential for an entrepreneurial business. We visited a few Fulton Mall businesses including, Peeve’s, Fulton shoes, The Little Bean Café, Saigon Deli, and later toured the Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company with their North Valley sales rep and EMP alumni, Forrest Miller.

Craig explained to us how the Fulton Mall is in the middle of change and how entrepreneurs should be taking advantage of the change. He talked about how Fulton Street is in the process of being developed for traffic which will open in about 2 ½ years. Developers and business owners tend to go where they are confident they will make money and in Fresno that isn’t the Fulton Mall. He told us “Why aren’t you doing what everyone else does? Because you’re an entrepreneur,” encouraging us to look at downtown Fresno in terms of its future success for business.

Craig talked about his decision to open Peeve’s on the Fulton Mall and his success so far. His idea was to run a business to help spur revitalization, build a community and help support other local businesses. We learned you can succeed in a place where not many others are being successful. Craig expressed how as entrepreneurs we have to do different things and have fun to succeed. He said, “Jump in where no one else is jumping, that’s what makes life fun as an entrepreneur.”

The opportunities downtown Fresno provides are endless. Craig told us to look for people who are missing opportunity and use their opportunity as an entrepreneur. “You can’t do the same thing everyone else does,” Craig said about doing business in a downtown. He told us how important it is for businesses in downtown Fresno to have a niche and be transparent.

As future entrepreneurs, being able to see downtown Fresno and all of the opportunity it provides was refreshing and inspiring. We learned from Craig how to look for opportunity in places where no one else does. We learned how as an entrepreneur creativity is essential to success and doing something different that has not been done before. It was inspiring to see how the revitalization of downtown Fresno is happening right now and soon downtown Fresno is going to be the place to be. After our trip to downtown and tour with Craig we are definitely down with downtown Fresno!

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