Funding Smart Business Ideas Outside Silicon Valley

Fresno, California, is a three-hour drive from Silicon Valley. You’re more likely to find acres of farmland there than you would a glut of smartphone app companies vying for attention. But the state’s fifth-largest city is in the Central Valley and therefore at the heart of something a bit more critical to life than hailing an Uber: Nearly 40 percent of all food consumed in the U.S. is produced there. And innovation is just as important.

Fulfilling this vital requirement means innovation is just as important in Fresno as it is in Cupertino.

“The city is very proud of the agricultural history and the heart of the farmland. But in the past, it’s been known as an industry with high-volume jobs that provide low wages,” says Irene Hsieh, who serves as a FUSE fellow in the Fresno mayor’s office.

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