Tehachapi’s got talent. No, that isn’t the name of a new variety show for network television, although I do believe we could fill a few hours of air time with some folks in our community. But that’s another story.
Our talent is our workforce, the people we supply to companies both in and out of the area. Those people who choose to make a career in the private sector in several industries that surround our community. These businesses invest millions in talent attraction efforts, bonuses, stipends and incentive packages to attract the best and the brightest to their companies. Just like a professional football team wants to attract the best talent in order to win, so do these companies.
With those efforts comes competition to those of us in the public sector. We want to win here in the city of Tehachapi, too. We want to attract the best talent possible under the budget we’re allowed. It’s not always easy when the private sector can dangle performance bonuses and large incentive packages in front of talented people, but we can offer the best we can.
Salary is one piece of the puzzle, but competing with the private sector sometimes is a losing battle. We have pay steps, salary schedules and very strict budgets to adhere to. We can’t ask for more money when it isn’t there. We don’t generate revenue like a private sector entity. We can’t simply charge more for our services in order to make up the difference.
Why should elected officials and the public care? Because talent is mobile and has the ability to choose the best situation. Just like the private sector, those of us managing public sector organizations want the best talent available. Building the best possible organizational and political culture is key to attracting and retaining that talent.
Despite our limitations, we attract great people who work for the city of Tehachapi. Some of the brightest minds, many of them raised locally, have found a home working for our corporation, so to speak. We must treat our city business like that of a corporation and manage each entity appropriately and strive to win just like our counterparts in the private sector because, after all, we’re serving the public.
Sometimes we lose our talent to other government agencies with larger budgets or to the private sector where they have more freedom to focus on their passions and less time sorting through the bureaucracy often associated with a public entity. I’ve often said the city of Tehachapi is a talent factory. All of our recent losses have been due to one of those Godfather-style “offers they couldn’t refuse.” I take that as a compliment and the public should as well.
Our talent is getting noticed, their accomplishments and the work they do on behalf of this community is as well. Our effort to attract top-level talent will always include things like salary and benefits, but our community, our learning, challenging and our positive engagement continues to be the reason many choose to stay here in Tehachapi.
I am very proud of our team. Your friends, family and neighbors working here at the city of Tehachapi are professional, efficient and work hard for you each and every day.
As always if you have any questions please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by City Hall.
Greg Garrett is Tehachapi's city manager.