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Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program

December 12, 2014

Meeting the Mayor

EMP with Mayor Swearengin


By: Chather Phillips
“Don’t despise small beginnings” – Mayor Ashley Swearengin

The last EMP meeting of the semester took place on Friday in Fresno's City Hall. The students
had the pleasure of hearing from Mayor Ashley Swearengin. In the Mayor's conference room, they learned that Mayor Swearengin was a student of Dr. Stearns and later went to work for the Business Incubator in 1998. Through the Business Incubator, Mayor Swearengin helped small businesses get their feet off the ground. The Business Incubator instilled in her a love for entrepreneurism and economic development. Mayor Swearengin went on to discuss her family history and how being raised in a post-depression conservative home helped foster her strong work ethic and character. 

During the meeting with the Mayor, a main topic of discussion was the revitalization of downtown Fresno and the new plan to give Fulton mall a throughway street. Mayor Swearengin shared how even though the pedestrian mall was originally built with good economic intentions, the changing culture of transportation and Fresno's rapid northern growth decimated the downtown economy, leaving us with the Fulton mall we know today. She shared, "If you can't get your main street to
work, you can't get the surrounding economy to work." With the new street set to open in 2016, Mayor Swearengin hopes Fresno will restore its faith in downtown. 

Mayor Swearengin spoke with the students and shared valuable advice for young professionals starting off in the workforce. She told her personal testimony and explained how even though young college graduates can feel like they are far above menial entry-level jobs, they should power through and even value the work they do. She stated: "I learned more licking envelopes for lawyers than almost any college class. What you are learning in your current job is incredibly valuable. Don’t despise small beginnings and soak everything in because you’re going to need it when you start your own business. Learn to love what you’re hating!" Thank you for the great advice and wisdom Mayor Swearengin! We are incredibly grateful!