CED Students Named to Fresno Mayor's Development Team

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
SNHU Communications Office


Contact:  Reginald Chapple
Date:  January 26, 2009

Mayor of Fresno, California Appoints Two School of CED West Coast Center Students to the Downtown and Economic Development Team

LOS ANGELES – Two Community Economic Development Master of Science students have been appointed by Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin to top posts at the newly restructured City of Fresno Economic Development Department (FEDD).  Craig Scharton was named to the top post of Downtown and Community Revitalization Director.  Elaine McGraw will work on Scharton’s team as the Neighborhood Revitalization Manager.  Their appointments were announced by Mayor Swerengin at a press conference held on December 30, 2008 as a part of her restructuring of the FEDD.

Scharton will oversee a department more sharply focused on strengthening Fresno’s economy through an emphasis on downtown revitalization, improving urban neighborhoods and supporting locally-owned businesses.  Scharton is a former Fresno city council member who recently served as chief executive of the Central Valley Business Incubator, where he has raised $6 million in investment capital for locally-based businesses.  Previously, Scharton held executive director positions for successful downtown revitalization programs in Pleasanton and Hanford, California.

Robles-McGraw will focus on neighborhood revitalization engaging community members, developers, investors and government offices in a comprehensive strategy targeting Fresno’s most distressed neighborhoods, as well as, Downtown.  She was raised in Fresno’s Jane Addams neighborhood, near the area commonly called Motel Drive.  This neighborhood is part of an area identified as the most concentrated pocket of poverty in the United States of America by the Brookings Institution.  Ms. Robles-McGraw has been a strong advocate for this West Fresno neighborhood where her mother resides and is founder of the Jane Addams Neighborhood Empowerment Project (JANE Project).  Ms. Robles-McGraw has worked in administration for the Fresno County Probation Department for 19 years. 

Scharton and Robles-McGraw are both currently enrolled in the West Coast Center of the Southern New Hampshire University – School of Community Economic Development.  They will graduate with a Master of Science degree in May 2009.

Scharton is enthusiastic about the work ahead. “I have been fortunate to work on revitalization issues as a policymaker, a property owner, a revitalization manager and even as a teacher,” he said. “It is an honor to put these experiences to use on behalf of my hometown and our new mayor.”

The department’s early initiatives will include the enhancement of downtown signage, façade improvement projects and the development of sustainable funding for revitalization efforts.  In addition, the department will promote the expansion of local contracting for city business and encourage more business-to-business activities to keep dollars circulating through Fresno’s economy.

“The key to Fresno’s economic growth is supporting local businesses, empowering local entrepreneurs, and revitalizing our neighborhoods.  Craig Scharton and his team clearly understand this,” said Mayor Swearengin.


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