About the Economic Development Division

College of the Canyons
Economic Development Division

A smart choice for growing your business

What does it take to start and grow a business successfully? It takes determination and the right resources at the right time.

College of the Canyons Economic Development Division is a smart choice for businesses – from start-up to growth. Our team of experts offers a comprehensive network of services, tools and resources to support any stage of business development.

Our team of experts understands what it takes to be successful in a global marketplace and your need to continually:

learn — about your competition, new strategies that support your business, and new ideas and skills.

compete — stay ahead of market trends, assess your competitive edge and take advantage of tools and resources to be successful.

grow — no matter where you are on the spectrum, start-up or large company, every business wants to work smarter and continually grow their profits.

Why choose us?

  1. We maximize your potential to succeed through three core value propositions:
  2. We are experts in convenient, cost-effective business solutions to help you and your organization learn, compete and grow.
  3. We are deeply committed to our mission and will work with your organization every step of the way to ensure successful implementation and quantifiable results.
Our instructors and consultants are hired based on industry knowledge and expertise, and have strong skills and knowledge.

Meet the Team

Jeffrey Forrest, Vice President - Economic Development

Mr. Forrest received a Bachelors of Science in Finance from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), and an MBA from Lindenwood University.  Mr. Forrest started his career as a financial analyst for McDonnell Douglas Corporation, which was once the largest aerospace company in the world.  He has also experience working in the non-profit and private business sectors.
In 2004, Forrest became an adjunct professor at St. Louis Community College, which ignited his interest in working in higher education. “After the first semester, I was hooked, not only on teaching, but on the mission of the community college,” said Forrest. “I knew from that moment that I wanted to spend the rest of my professional career serving in some capacity in higher education.”
For the past four years, Forrest has served as Interim Dean of the Business and Human Development Division at St. Louis Community College. In this capacity, he developed relationships with local companies, managed grants, and built advisory committees for the college’s Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and served as Co-chair of the Diversity Council, and was participated on the College’s Strategic Planning Initiative.   

John Milburn, Executive Director - Employee Training Institute

John Milburn is a native Californian who has lived and worked across the state.  He has owned and operated several businesses and has been a training and development specialist for more than 13 years.  John has a wide-ranging background in economic development having helped many organizations and thousands of employees with organization and professional development. He has more than 4,000 stand-up hours delivering training and facilitation services for private, public and nonprofit organizations. As Director of ETI, John develops and delivers training programs targeted to assist local employers respond to changing markets, technology and the skill development needs of their employees. John holds a Psychology MA in Organization Development from Sonoma State University and BA in Business Administration from California State University, Bakersfield.
Paula Hodge, Deputy Sector Navigator - Information Communication Technologies and Digital Media

As Deputy Sector Navigator for the Information Communication Technologies and Digital Media, Paula brings 23 + years of extensive experience in information technology. Prior to joining College of the Canyons, she was the IT Director of a major educational nonprofit. Under her leadership, she applied technical and business acumen to steer the organizations technical advancement in data, voice and infrastructure.

Paula will serve as EDD’s liaison for bridging the gap between industry and education within the IT and Digital Media sectors. She will be leveraging opportunities that will benefit business, students, and the California economy.
Catherine Grooms, Director, Small Business Development Center
As Director, Catherine manages a team of 21, including 18 professional Business Advisors and directs all services of the SBDC including delivering results, marketing, managing finance and budgets, sponsor and partnership relationship management, developing events and managing grants.  She specializes in assisting clients with accounting, business planning, financing, startup, general business, management and operations, sales and marketing, and growth strategy. Catherine has been with the SBDC since 2006, as Business Advisor, Assistant Director, and Director.
Prior to joining the SBDC, Catherine gained 21 years of experience in domestic and international business leading and managing teams with an emphasis on
financial management and operations, in a range of industries.  The industries include manufacturing, construction, entertainment, and a major utility.  The companies ranged from privately held to public, employees from 20 up to 1000s, and revenue dollars from a few million up to billions.  Her broad experience working with companies both large and small on the East Coast, Midwest and in California in a variety of industries enables Catherine to effectively work with sponsors, partners, and clients to achieve economic impact and strategic goals.
Catherine has a BBA in Accounting from Howard University and an MBA (Accounting/Management Concentration) from the University of Baltimore. She is a graduate of the Leadership Development Program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Executive Education; and the Leadership Development Program at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

Mike Bastine, Center for Applied Competitive Technologies

Mike is a native Ohioan and received his BS degree in Mathematics from Ohio State University.  While as an Air Force officer he earned an MBA and ultimately retired from a Space Operations career while being assigned to Vandenberg AFB.  He then worked in the aerospace industry as a Senior Systems Engineer in Redondo Beach and performed nationwide engineer recruiting for TRW, before beginning his career with the California Community Colleges in 1999.  He has served as a faculty member on the academic senate, as well as an administer collaborating with business communities on various workforce development initiatives.  His college management experience has included a variety of categorical funded programs involving - Adult Education, internships, work based learning, contract education, career services, and the statewide production of Braille textbook.  Currently, as the Director of the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, Mike evaluates emerging manufacturing and engineering technologies and assists companies in deploying these technologies within their organizations to enhance their competitive position in a global economy.

John Cordova, Statewide Director - Health Workforce Initiative

With 15 years of experience in the community college system, John's skills include policy/advocacy, workforce scans, curriculum development, simulation program implementation and grant writing. He promotes regional collaboration in allied health programs and serves regional health care providers thru information dissemination, training and consulting. John is a Registered Nurse and holds a baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN) with a particular interest in public health nursing and case management. He has experience in the classroom, working with community-based organizations, grant writing, curriculum development and is Developing a Curriculum (DACUM) certified. ‚Äč


Partners and Sponsors

Hats Off to Our SBDC Sponsors

The COC Small Business Development Center and our business assistance programs are made possible in part by the generous financial support from many public and private sources. We wish to thank our sponsors:

SBDC - Partners/Sponsors
SBDC - Other Sponsors
SBDC - Banking Sponsors
SBDC - Chamber and Economic Development Partners
SBDC - Location Partners
SBDC - Public Sponsors