Entrepreneurs and innovators have a passion that cannot be dampened. Despite being creative and dedicated to the process of business building, successful entrepreneurs are recognized for both what they make and also for what they give. They inspire, guide and provide opportunity and hope to those who follow the same path. They take an idea from concept to commercialization and create jobs; an opportunity that benefits entire communities. And, while they are creative, passionate and dedicated, entrepreneurs and innovators never work in a vacuum. They rely on teams of experts and advocates who help shepherd their ideas and ventures. Just as they say, it takes a village to raise a child – so, too, does it take a community to cultivate and foster that culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Here in the Central Valley, we are fortunate to benefit from the vision and achievements of several entrepreneurs and innovators who lead by example; who have committed their efforts and resources to ensure the culture exists here that supports and encourages business success. The Central Valley Business Incubator – Small Business Development Center(CVBI-SBDC) is honored to recognize two outstanding individuals for their unique contributions to the Central Valley’s innovation and entrepreneurial environment: Dr. John D. Welty, President, Fresno State and Mr. Fred Ruiz, Chair Emeritus, Ruiz Foods. For his vision and stewardship in developing the idea that economic development through entrepreneurship and innovation can elevate and drive our communities, and also for building the foundation on which the future of the Central Valley can rely for continued growth, CVBI-SBDC is honored to recognize Dr John D. Welty with The Perpetual John D Welty Vision & Stewardship Award.
Since 1991, Fresno State has become recognized as one of the nation’s most engaged universities that has expanded minority enrollment, created an honors college, revised general education requirements, added new academic programs and institutes, and constructed $404.3 million in facilities including a new $102 million library. Fresno State has introduced service-learning into the curriculum and expanded community service opportunities for students. It has launched a major commitment to expand the use of information technology, and led the effort to build the Save Mart Center, while dramatically increased private fundraising and grant/ contract funding. The university has been actively involved in addressing issues in Central California and engaging itself with the entire region. Dr. Welty is widely recognized as a driver of entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development in the Central Valley and beyond. Through his efforts the Central Valley Business Incubator, the Regional Jobs Initiative, the Office of Community and Economic Development and dozens of other initiatives and programs designed to harness the innovative spirit of our region were created. His passion and perseverance has driven the many accomplishments of Fresno State. The Perpetual John D. Welty Vision& Stewardship Award has been created to honor individuals who provide vision, stewardship, tenacity, investment, and belief in the power of entrepreneurs. They must have charted the course so that others may succeed with stewardship for future success and growth. This perpetual trophy will be awarded to individuals who demonstrate the kind of leadership that is synonymous with Dr. Welty’s legacy throughout the Central Valley. Also presented at the Central Valley Stock Exchange is The Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award. This recognition is presented to an individual who demonstrates the passion to create with a tenacity and talent to turn an idea into a sustainable business.
The recipient embodies ambition, creativity, leadership, adaptability, positivity and tenacity. CVBI-SBDC is honored to recognize Fred Ruiz, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Ruiz Foods, Inc. as the 2012 Recipient of the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award. Fred Ruiz and his father, Louis, founded Ruiz Foods in 1964. In nearly 50 years, Ruiz Foods has become the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturing company in the United States. Corporate headquarters are located in Dinuba, California with three manufacturing facilities and two distribution warehouses in California and Texas. The dream of this father and son team was to establish a company that would generate $3.5 million in sales during their lifetime. Just a few decades ago, annual sales of their frozen Mexican food products such as burritos, tamales and enchiladas totaled $94 million– a figure has now more than quadrupled. Ruiz Foods is dedicated to premium quality, authentically prepared frozen foods selling to all channels of distribution: retail, convenience store, clubs, vending, industrial and food service. The Tornado brand, introduced just 5 years ago, has revolutionized the use of the roller grill in convenience stores with recent retail introduction. The El Monterey® brand is the market leader within the frozen Mexican food category and as the #1 Brand of frozen Mexican food in the U.S. Ruiz Foods employs over 2,700 Team Members in three facilities throughout the United States.