A Fresno business leader has been tapped to help small businesses throughout the state.

Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Tara Lynn Gray as director of the Office of the Small Business Advocate, under the Office of Business and Economic Development, aka “Go-Biz.”

Gray, 57, is currently the CEO of the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, a position she’s held since 2017. She will replace Isabel Guzman, who was recently confirmed as the Small Business Administration chief in the Biden Administration.

She wants to bring her experience to the state level.

“I’m an optimist. So I think that the outlook (for small businesses) is good. We’ve learned some things from the pandemic. Certainly the governor is doing everything he can to respond,” Gray said.

The state is offering nearly $1 billion in California Relief Grants in bi-partisan legislation supported by several Central Valley legislators.

Gray Supports Newsom’s Efforts

Gray says she supports Gov. Gavin Newsom’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including stay-at-home orders that shut down many small businesses. The Fresno Metro Black Chamber shut down — with employees working from home — its offices a week before the state orders.

“It’s a very difficult thing to do. None of us knew what this would turn out to be. The governor had to act to protect the people of our state,” Gray said. “Just because it’s the right thing to do, doesn’t mean that it’s easy.”

As the Small Business Advocate, Gray will work under Go-Biz director Dee Dee Myers.

“Dee Dee is an awesome leader and she has vast and varied experience that I think suits the governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development perfectly. It is rare to have someone with the depth and breadth of experience that she has had. I am very much looking forward to working with her right now,” Gray said.

Plans to Stay in Fresno

Gray said she plans to stay in Fresno for the time being.

“I’m sitting in my house in Fresno right now, and that’s where I see myself,” Gray said.

Gray starts at Go-Biz on April 26. She says the chamber is in the process of naming her replacement.

Her new position pays $175,644 a year and does not require state Senate confirmation.

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