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Placer County Economic Development Awards


William Jessup University, Sierra College, the college's grant development director and a local wine-industry association were honored with awards at the 19th annual Placer County Economic Development Summit Wednesday.

Also recognized with awards were the chief executive officer of a Roseville company that recovers parts from old servers, printers and other electronic devices for reuse, and three allied businesses in Colfax: Fox Barrel Cider Co., Basement Wines and Main Street Pizza.

The summit is an annual breakfast meeting sponsored by the Placer County Economic Development Board. About 215 people attended Wednesday’s summit in the Orchard Creek Ballroom at Sun City Lincoln Hills.

At the annual summit, the board honors outstanding public-sector and private-sector contributions to the county’s economic well-being.

This year, the board also bestowed a new Education Award upon William Jessup University. The university’s rapid expansion since it moved from San Jose to Rocklin in 2004 has been a major contributor to economic growth in Placer County.

Private-sector awards were handed out to:

    * The three Colfax businesses for contributing to the local tax base, creating jobs, supporting downtown revitalization, helping promote tourism and aiding historic preservation efforts; and
    * Steve Fassler and his fast-growing his company, Tech-Ed Networks, for their contributions to the economic growth of Placer County and for a track record of community involvement that includes donating refurbished computers to emancipated foster youths attending Sierra College.

Public-sector awards were given to:

    * The Placer County Vintner’s Association for the commitment and dedication its members have displayed to promoting the county’s burgeoning wine industry;
    * Sierra College’s new Solar Energy Technician Program for helping fill the need to have a skilled workforce in the rapidly growing energy field.
    * Sandra Scott, the director of grant development and career technical education at Sierra College, for her effectiveness serving as a liaison between the college and both the business community and local government agencies.


The three businesses were nominated for their awards by 5th District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery.

“I believe this small-scale, cooperative model is worth looking at, evaluating and rewarding,” the supervisor said, noting that the award winners are not large businesses that employ dozens of people. “However, this model is clearly one that will drive not only their own economic success, but will assist the county and the city of Colfax in economic recovery.”

On hand to receive the awards were Bruce Nissan of Fox Barrel and Leed Shahin of Basement Wines and Main Street Pizza.

Supervisor Montgomery noted that Fox Barrel merged with a Minneapolis-based firm recently to increase sales, production and staffing. The Shahin family opened Basement Wines about six years ago and added the restaurant last year.


Fassler is founder, president and chief executive officer of Tech-Ed, a company created in 1992 to provide support services for trade shows. A growing part of its business is asset-recovery work in which its extracts parts from servers and other electronic devices; tests and recertifies them; and packages them for reuse.

“Tech-Ed is a shining example of an entrepreneur starting a company with a specific niche and then expanding his company to fulfill a need in the electronics industry,” explained Roseville Councilman John Allard in nominating papers he filed for the company.

Fassler told the audience Wednesday that he is particularly proud of his company’s donation of refurbished computers to emancipated foster youths attending Sierra College.


Last year, the university completed construction of a state-of-the-art, 192-bed apartment complex that doubled its supply of on-campus housing. The project was the first step in a three-step expansion program planned by the university.

“As it continues to expand, the university’s role as a catalyst for academic, cultural, social and civic growth in Placer County will also increase,” explained Steve Nichols, this year’s president of the Economic Development Board.

“The university has helped to enhance the city of Rocklin and South Placer County by bringing smart and talented students to the area, students who will soon be contributing to the success of Placer County.”

President Bryce Jessup accepted the award on behalf of the university.


The association was nominated by Executive Director Jan C. Decker of the Placer County Visitors Bureau, who noted the association is new, but its members have been working for many years to promote their businesses and industry.

“Through their association, the wineries and vintners have supported each other in perfecting their produce, as evidenced by their competitiveness in several regional and distinguished wine competitions,” Decker wrote. “These efforts have additionally brought regional exposure and recognition to Placer County as a desirable wine destination.”

He noted the wineries have produced a wine trail map and that wine trail signs have been posted along Interstate 80 and Highway 49. Association members worked with the county on a winery ordinance that was adopted in 2008.

Association President Stewart Perry and Vice President Phil Maddux accepted the award.


The college began offering classes in the program during the fall of 2009.

“This course curriculum was developed in response to hundreds of projected new, well-paid local jobs for photovoltaic solar panel installers, inspectors, technicians and business-development specialists,” Nichols said.

“This course will enhance Placer County’s long-term development and competitiveness by having a skilled workforce and local training opportunities in the renewable energy field.”

Sierra received grant money through the California Community College Chancellor’s Office for the program.

Nichols presented the award to Dr. Leo Chavez, the president of Sierra College.


Councilman Allard gave Scott her award, telling the audience that she was a driving force behind Sierra College’s successful bid to get grant funding for the Solar Energy Technician Program and serves a liaison between the college and the business community in developing training programs.

“She supports the college’s effort to make education relevant for students, increasing the number of local residents who find meaningful employment and advising local economic developers on the value of Sierra College to our community,” Allard said.

He noted that Scott also serves on the Golden Sierra Workforce Investment Board and made significant contributions to both the Placer County and city of Roseville economic development strategies.

Scott is the education representative on the Economic Development Board.

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