The Valley Economic Development Center has named a veteran construction industry executive as its first chief operating officer.

Alex Guerrero will be charged with helping manage the growth of the Sherman Oaks non-profit that does lending to small businesses and entrepreneurial training.

Guerrero joins the development group after many years at Tower General Contractors, a San Fernando firm whose projects include reconstruction of the Theme building at Los Angeles International Airport, renovation of Beverly Hills City Hall and overseeing construction of the Columbia Space Shuttle Museum.

VEDC has expanded in recent years to Nevada, Chicago and the New York tri-state area. As chief operating officer, Guerrero also will focus on strengthening the organization’s management structure to further expand its national footprint.

“Alex is central to our plan to grow to $100 million in assets in three years and firmly establish ourselves as the nation’s leading non-profit small business lender,” said VEDC Chief Executive Roberto Barragan, who is remaining with the group.