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Valley Strong pledges $1 million endowment to CSUB in support of B3K

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Valley Strong Credit Union President and CEO Steve Renock, left, stands next to Cal State Bakersfield President Lynnette Zelezny. The Bakersfield-based credit union has pledged $1 million to fund a research fellowship in support of the B3K economic development collaboration.

Valley Strong Credit Union has committed to giving Cal State Bakersfield a $1 million endowment that will pay for a research fellowship supporting the B3K regional economic development collaboration.

The pledge, announced in a story posted late Tuesday afternoon to CSUB's website, will pay for a university faculty member to provide information helpful to the collaborative's goal of creating quality jobs across Kern County.

The research position will be funded by interest accrued on the Bakersfield-based credit union's donation. A committee will use a competitive process to select a new faculty member to fill the position every three years, and that person will be assigned a student helper. Faculty from all academic disciplines will be eligible to apply.

“Valley Strong Credit Union’s generous gift will unlock the ingenuity and imagination of our students and faculty to move our economy forward into new frontiers,” CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said in the post.

B3K, an abbreviation for Better Bakersfield & Boundless Kern, launched in February 2020 in response to threats facing local industries such as oil and agriculture. It has since put out a local market assessment and formed committees that are now brainstorming strategies for local economic development.

“This endowment we’re creating is going to help research that’s being done specifically to find ways to aid the economic development of the county,” Valley Strong President and CEO Steve Renock said in the post.

“For us at Valley Strong to be so closely tied with the university for this kind of project means a lot for both the things we support at the university and for the community," he stated.

Zelezny said the region needs new thinking and research-based ideas to make the most of local economic opportunities.

"Valley Strong Credit Union gives us the power to actively apply economic research to grow prosperity in our community," she said.

Coronavirus Cases widget

  • Positive Cases Among Kern Residents: 158,270

  • Deaths: 1,828

  • Recovered and Presumed Recovered Residents: 150,950 

  • Percentage of all cases that are unvaccinated: 92.04

  • Percentage of all hospitalizations that are unvaccinated: 92.62 Updated: 12/3/2021.

  • Source: Kern County Public Health Services Department