Freedom Plaza

Freedom Plaza, with the Tehachapi Visitor Center in the background, is a popular place to visit.

Many organizations and groups in the city and Greater Tehachapi area focus on supporting economic growth. How are they continuing to help the ever-changing development and support existing and new businesses, residents and infrastructure? We asked leaders from several organizations to share their views on why their organizations were formed and what impact they have on the community.

The answers of the groups that responded are included here.

Tehachapi Tourism Commission

Formed: Around 2010

Board members: 11

The commission was formed to represent the Tehachapi area and be a liaison for existing businesses, visitors and promote the Greater Tehachapi area. Members work together with local and state government to define tourism goals, according to tehachapiedc.com.

How does the organization support economic growth?

Commission members and volunteers help keep the Tehachapi Visitor’s Center at 200 W. Tehachapi Blvd. open to the public. Businesses may purchase space at brochure racks around the city to promote their services and have the opportunity to advertise their marketing material at the visitor center. Members attend travel shows in California and set up a booth to showcase the services Tehachapi has to offer in partnership with the city of Tehachapi, said Pat Doody, president for the Tehachapi Tourism Commission.

“We can steer visitors to the shops no matter their interest — whether it's antiques, toys, eateries, wineries, arts and crafts, etc.,” Doody said.

Challenges: Finding more options for children’s activities

Accomplishments: Marketing the Tehachapi area to visitors and potential new businesses

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Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council

Formed: Around 2000

Board members: 16; paid investors 75-plus

How does the organization help economic growth?

The nonprofit organization is “dedicated to promoting existing and future businesses throughout the Greater Tehachapi Area” and members take pride in “developing strong, professional partnerships with private and public organizations to support a diverse, progressive economic climate that benefits local businesses, their employment base, and our beautiful valley,” according to tehachapiedc.com.

“We are very proud of the way we have grown, maintaining the investorship, and the fact that people keep coming to the meetings. It went from a table full of people to now more than 80 people attending each month,” said Lydia Chaney, president for the GTEDC.

Accomplishments: The development of the Tehachapi Tourism Commission, and the Tehachapi Wine Growers Commission

Challenges: The idea of marketing growth to people and maintaining the mountain town atmosphere. “You see people who want growth and some don’t want anything to change,” said Chaney. She added, “Growth can be controlled by proper planning.”

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Main Street Tehachapi

Formed: Around 1999

Members: Volunteers and board of directors

How does the organization support economic growth?

Main Street Tehachapi is a nonprofit organization formed to help revitalize downtown, preserve historic buildings and open opportunities for new businesses to move into the area.

One of the main goals was to make downtown “a walkable community offering things for people to do,” said Charles White, secretary of Main Street.

Accomplishments: The revitalization of Railroad Park on Tehachapi Boulevard. Main Street partnered with the city to obtain grant funding to fix lighting, sidewalks, curbs and gutters. Fundraisers and sponsorships helped raise money for the rehabilitation of the water tower, new flag poles, and the downtown murals.

Main Street helps plan events like the Trunk or Treat, Tehachapi Ugly Christmas Sweater Wine Walk and the Valentine's Wine and Chocolate Tasting. Sponsors help cover expenses for these events.

This was to “give the local people more pride in the downtown area, to tell their story and for tourists,” said White.

Challenges: Finding more volunteers and board members

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Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce

Formed: 1968

Board of directors: seven

How does the organization support economic growth?

The Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce promotes businesses in the area by: hosting ribbon-cuttings to celebrate grand openings and anniversaries, displaying marketing material in the office, listing business information via a directory hosted on the chamber’s website, printing a yearly business referral guide, creating networking opportunities, hosting luncheons and showcasing businesses at events. The yearly membership dues allow businesses to network and grow in the community.

"I think it's exciting times for Tehachapi. The community is thriving,” said Ida Perkins, president of the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce. She added, “We work extremely hard to promote our members in the community.”

Accomplishments: The chamber has more than 600 members and growing and some businesses are from out the area — Los Angeles, Lancaster, Palmdale, Bakersfield and other places — have joined the chamber as members, said Perkins.

Challenges: Laws that could either help or hurt businesses and facing those challenges

"We work with a lot with local, state and county government too on issues that can impact local businesses and economic development," said Perkins. She added that at times the chamber has stated its opposition to or in favor of ballot measures or potential changing political issues.

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City of Tehachapi

Formed: Mid-1800s

Members: 70-plus city employees

How does the organization support economic growth?

The city of Tehachapi supports economic development in the area by sending representatives to major marketing events and local meetings in the area, helping attract new business to develop in the city by identifying land available and providing information, supporting new sales tax revenue, and making use of redevelopment agency funding to help revitalize downtown and infrastructure.

“It’s mostly just playing that matchmaker and knowing what resources are out there and then partnering those with the businesses,” said Corey Costelloe, assistant to the city manager and economic development coordinator.

Accomplishments: Revitalizing downtown Tehachapi, utilizing the Downtown Tehachapi Master Plan and the Tehachapi General Plan, building the Tehachapi Visitor Center and Freedom Plaza

Challenges: Planning the look and feel of development and revitalization

“We are kind of the situation where we need to work with people who want to build houses here to help them build the right product that fits our community, that fits the need, but at the same time we just can’t say, ‘We don’t want to grow anymore,’” said Costelloe.