Fresh off a move from Washington state, a new face in Payson is ready to offer help to small business owners.
Ron Nielsen, the newest member of the Gila Community College staff, has filled the position left vacant for nearly eight months by the retiring Judy Miller, former director of the Small Business Development Center.
Nielsen, the former director of the Okanogan County Small Business Development Center in Washington, said his transition to Payson has been "surprisingly easy."
He said he has lived in towns very similar to the size and
demographic of Payson -- something he thinks will enable him to connect with business owners.
"Rural areas often share the same community interests and needs," he said. "This is a neat area and all the people I've been working with have been outstanding."
Nielsen will likely be working at the Payson campus three days a week and in Globe and San Carlos two days a week.
He said his main responsibility is to provide a resource for individuals looking to get started in business or for existing business owners in the community.
"I can provide experience to business owners and assist them in obtaining financing, with technology or in working with employees," he said. "I can help with a wide range of things."
Nielsen, who has been a business owner or general manager for 25 years -- most recently as the owner of a bowling alley and movie theater -- beat out 30 other candidates for the position, GCC Payson Dean Harry Swanson said.
Swanson said Nielsen's prior experience with a small business community development program gave him the edge over other candidates.
"The whole county needs the Small Business Development Center, because small businesses are such a large part of the community," Swanson said.
Swanson added that Nielsen, who started his new job Feb. 26, is fitting in very well with the community.
That quick comfort level in the Payson community came as a shock to Nielsen.
"It feels like I've come back home to where I came from," he said.
For more information on the Small Business Development Center, Nielsen can be reached at (928) 468-8039 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.