By David Benda, Record Searchlight, October 2011

Mike Frank moved from Santa Barbara to Redding two years ago, intending to retire.

The former executive, who helped build such companies as Disney and Frito-Lay, figured he could run his consulting business on an as-needed basis.

“When we came up, people kept seeking me out again, bringing in business plans to me, looking for advice,” said Frank, 57.

“It started to occupy a huge part of my day up here.”

Pretty soon, Frank’s wife, Robbie, suggested he officially come out of retirement and turn his consulting business into a sort of remedy for the area’s sick economy.

So the Franks came up with the idea of a camp for individual and startup companies, a three-day gathering that would bring in executive instructors who would give attendees an unvarnished opinion on their ideas.

The first Entrepreneur Bootcamp took place last spring. Five businesses were launched from that inaugural class.

Entrepreneur Bootcamp II started Thursday at Simpson University and runs through Saturday.

“We love to see a number of companies get started out of this, but frankly, we make them drink some hard medicine in terms of reality and success,” Frank said. “We are not pumping sunshine, we’re not blowing smoke at them. We’re really challenging
their assumption.”

Bottom line, he says, the goal is to turn around the north state’s economy, which he characterizes as being in a “chronic malaise.”

“We need to step up and do the right thing, which is invest a little time, a little energy and a little wisdom into the next generation,” he said.

Frank is a member of a growing fraternity of young business people and retired executives who came to Redding for Bethel Church and its School of Supernatural Ministry.

“When I came here, all of a sudden a bunch of other senior level executive guys started showing up, and we all found each other,” Frank said. “I think families have decided there is much more to life than the rat race in some bigger cities.
Families move here because it’s a small town, and another reason is the spiritual community that feeds them.”

Mark Lascelles, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Shasta County, said the large revival church is having a positive impact on the area’s workforce.

“There is a lot of value that Bethel offers, and their contribution can only make us a much stronger, more advanced community,” Lascelles said.

Domenick Nati, 32-year-old president of Nati Celebrity Services, said Redding would probably be the last place he’d pick to move his talent agency.

But two years ago, Nati started listening to Bethel worship music online from his home in North Carolina. The more research he did, the more he became enamored of the church’s message.

So Nati sold his house in Charlotte, N.C., and moved to Redding with his wife and son in 2009.

“Everything can be reproduced, your housing situation, your employment, but Bethel is unique,” said Nati, whose biggest client is the rapper DMX. “It is interesting how God is bringing these people together, so it has been a pleasant surprise.”

Bethel and its impact on Redding was on full display in August during an EDC-hosted event on innovation and technology at the Shasta Builders Exchange.

Many of the featured speakers — including Frank and John Wiese, who cofounded a technical licensing software company in Silicon Valley — came to Redding because of Bethel.

The luncheon was capped with the announcement that AirCover Integrated Solutions, a drone aircraft manufacturer, will house its research and development team in Redding.

John Swope, AirCover’s chief technology officer, said afterward that Bethel Church played a role in his decision to move to Redding.

“I think it is something the community is going to have to get used to,” Lascelles said. “Bethel is bringing more value to the community, but they are also bringing their belief system with it, and God is going to be part of the conversation.
We may have to adjust to that and decide that part has a real value to us.”