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Merced's economy has been in a free fall since the housing bubble burst and the recession began. Businesses have been laying off workers and cutting hours to stay afloat. Others have been forced to shut down. The biggest blow came earlier this year when County Bank, arguably one of Merced's most important institutions, collapsed and was handed over to Westamerica. Some businesses have entered the local market to fill the void. But that's only filling what left. There hasn't been much, if any, growth.
To understand the current business climate and what is needed for the local economy to rebound and grow, "Off the 99" brought together Merced Economic Development Director Frank Quintero, Bill Anderson who manages Merced's Alliance Small Business Development Center and David Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Electronic Systems.