Tehachapi continues to drive conversation in Kern County, especially among visitors and those who spend time in our community as a quick weekend getaway.
The GranFondo, completed a few weeks back, was a great example. More than 1,000 riders, their supporters and community members flooded downtown on an unseasonably warm September day to enjoy the festivities and the physical challenge. Many of these riders were returning to our community as they have made that ride an annual tradition.
GranFondo, Mountain Festival, Apple Festival and various other events are all part of our tourism story. They are major economic drivers that bring people to the community, and from there they branch out to other attractions in and around the city. Studies have shown that the economic impact of tourism exceeds $100 million in our community. That’s not “revenue” per se, but it shows how money spent in one place impacts spending elsewhere.
A big part of this industry is the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce, and the Tehachapi Tourism Commission, which operates the Tehachapi Visitor Center located on Tehachapi Boulevard in Freedom Plaza. This volunteer organization staffs the center five days a week, Thursday through Monday, and is the go-to place for visitors and residents alike for information about things to do, events, places to visit and sometimes a little history about the area as well. As a volunteer organization, they are always looking for people with a knowledge base of Tehachapi to join and work a shift in the center at least once a month.
I, along with a few others at City Hall, are volunteers and take the opportunity to educate and inform visitors to our community. Many of those visitors become residents down the road, or they find reasons to keep coming back and enjoying our town. It’s not a major commitment; all the Tourism Commission asks is one three-hour shift a month, it’s a great chance to share the things you enjoy about Tehachapi with others, whether it’s a great place to eat, shop or enjoy entertainment; it’s nice to share that with visitors.
It’s probably one of the least-demanding volunteer efforts in the community. It’s essentially just talking to people about the best things Tehachapi has to offer. It’s an investment into the story that our city continues to tell, and others are listening to with attentive ears. That story is making an impact on a countywide and statewide level.
Whether it’s downtown Tehachapi or outlying areas, the tourism industry is an important economic tool for small business and one of the focuses of our economic development efforts. Your help with those efforts can be completed with one shift a month at the Visitor Center. If you’re interested in helping out, or have a question on any other matter, feel free to reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Garrett is Tehachapi's city manager.