Local News

Tuesday, Jan 01 2013 12:01 AM

Supes approve economic development initiatives

Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner is spearheading efforts to reshape economic development across eastern Kern County with two new programs, one of which is aimed at pumping a portion of the $1.5 million in property taxes collected by Kern County from renewable energy back into the communities most impacted by its existence.

In combination with the creation of a new countywide blight reduction program, Scrivner's Renewable Energy Neighborhood Enhancement Wind Business Investment Zone, or RENEWBIZ, will enhance the quality of life and create new economic development opportunities within the communities of Boron, Mojave, Rosamond, and the unincorporated areas of Tehachapi and California City.

"I want to invest some of the increase in property tax dollars from renewable energy back into the communities that are the most impacted by these industries, thus creating a direct local benefit," Scrivner said. "At the same time, with an improved financial picture at the county, as a result of our vibrant energy sectors, I believe it is incumbent upon the county to do all it can to reduce blight in areas where it is hampering economic recovery."

Approved at its Dec. 11 meeting, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved Scrivner's programs, which will be implemented in 2013 and used for infrastructure improvements like roads and sidewalks, as well as streetscape amenities including improvements to public buildings and landscaping.

In addition to the RENEWBIZ program, a dedicated county staff member will be added to reach out to communities excessively affected by blight, engaging community groups and individuals, as well as various county departments and local law enforcement to revitalize both the physical and emotional health of each community.

"The unincorporated communities of east Kern have suffered from blight for too long. I am so pleased that this new dedicated staff member, working with all these county departments and my office, will be able to make a difference in the lives of everyone in east Kern," said Scrivner. "Kern County is in a unique position in this down economy to have two new programs like these. I am committed to appropriately and fairly reinvesting our tax dollars back into our communities."

However, those community's will need to be prepared to react, and to ensure that they are, Scrivner's plan also calls for the approval of a countywide Economic Development Taskforce designed to create a strategic plan to address long-term issues that affect economic development throughout the county.

Some of the areas to be addressed include workforce readiness, access to financing, transportation, business climate, regulatory issues, marketing and branding, and innovation.

"The only way to effectively grow Kern County's economy is to take a strategic and holistic approach to economic development," said Scrivner. "We need to have everyone at the table working together toward common goals to provide improved employment opportunities for Kern County's residents. "

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