Updates on a vacant downtown building, college costs and a county vendor policy were discussed at the May 1 Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council meeting.
Local business World Wind & Solar recently purchased the vacant St. Vincent de Paul building at 122 S. Green St. and will renovate the space into a coworking area and cafe called The Village, said Nikki Cummings, president of the company.
Cerro Coso Community College students are taking full advantage of the Cerro Coso Promise, a scholarship to help full-time students pay for college. Students may qualify for up to $1,000 per semester for two years to help pay for tuition, books and other needs and must maintain a 2.0 or higher GPA.
“Cerro Coso wants to do our part in alleviating some of the financial burden on our students,” said Lauren Falk, program manager of foundation and institutional advancement for Cerro Coso.
She added, “Whether they get their certificate and go into the workforce or go straight to a four-year university, we really try to work with students.”
Falk said student loan debt in the U.S. is more than $1.5 trillion and growing every year.
More than 50 students from Tehachapi applied for the scholarships and received assistance.
“We really see a peak interest and many students in Tehachapi are taking advantage of it and it's our fastest-growing campus,” Falk said in an interview. “You have to credit the local staff. They are absolutely amazing.”
The community college was awarded a $1.5 million state grant that will reduce students' cost for tuition and books in 2017.
Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner said a review of the county’s local vendor preference policy was in the process for all districts in Kern County.
“We are discussing ways to improve and drive county contracts to local businesses. It would be very helpful for us to have your input,” Scrivner said.
In Kern County, there are 660 registered local vendors in the county’s database of 7,570 vendors. In fiscal year 2017-2018, 65 percent of all purchase orders, totaling $50 million, were issued to local vendors. Nine bids that were awarded to local vendors and that could have been awarded to non-local vendors kept $960,248 local, according to documents from the April 30 Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting.
A local vendor is a business that has a fixed office or street address in the county for at least six months, holds a required business license, employs at least one full-time or two part-time employees, or if the business has no employees, shall be at least 50 percent owned by one or more people, according to ordinance 2.38.131.
- Michelle Vance, who is leaving her position as manager of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District, received a standing ovation at the meeting. Multiple community members wished her well in her new job in Colorado.
- South Street Digital was awarded the Small Women Owned Business of the Year Award from the Central California Small Business Development Center. This is out of eight categories that will be recognized this year.
- Laura Lynne Wyatt will be joining the team of Supervisor Scrivner.
- The recent Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley Foundation fundraiser dinner raised $189,000 in one night. "We live in a community that comes together," said Christina Scrivner, AHTV's foundation manager.