The city of Tehachapi has joined several other stakeholders throughout Kern County in assisting the Kern Economic Development Corp. with a new talent, innovation and entrepreneurship endeavor. The end goals are to create a support structure for upstart businesses in Kern County and help them grow into major economic contributors in our area.
At the kickoff meeting, Tehachapi representatives suggested one thing when it came to the 10-year goals for this organization: sustainability. What initiative is any good if it is not built to last and is simply an exchange of ideas? The long-term health of any program, or a business for that matter, is entirely dependent on the ecosystem which prolongs its sustainability.
Tehachapi has worked hard to develop and maintain our ecosystem, the group of community partners, stakeholders, citizens and a variety of industries that play an important role in the overall health of one another. It is a disservice to anyone investing personal or business finances in our community to not provide the right ecosystem and the best opportunity for a great return.
Part of that ecosystem starts with city government. The city of Tehachapi has a balanced budget with strong financial reserves and very little debt or unfunded liability. We recently presented a financial report and a multi-year audit from an accounting firm to our City Council. The findings in that audit were outstanding; there were not any management suggestions or requests for changes in how we do business. Our fiscal practices are noteworthy.
Years ago the city adopted a General Plan to direct how and where we will mature. That planning process, along with code enforcement efforts, are all helping us preserve and even build that ecosystem. Law enforcement plays a major role; our crime rates are low and we were recently named the safest city in Kern County and one of the top 50 safest in California thanks to the efforts of the Tehachapi Police Department and the trust of the community.
Last week we unveiled the Tehachapi Neighborhood Improvement Plan at the City Council meeting. This program is an ecosystem-supporting program that will eventually touch every neighborhood in our city. We have partnered with local churches and others for assistance in clean-up efforts and maintenance of yards. We were able to convince Ring, the home-monitoring video doorbell service, to provide a rebate and a city-sponsored subsidy for some of their products. We are the smallest city that Ring has ever partnered with, but they were willing because of the potential of this program. We look forward to rolling this all out in the coming month.
We don’t have all the answers and we continue to work on those partnerships that feed into the health of our ecosystem. We need other state, county and community leaders to be a part of this with the hopes that the city of Tehachapi ecosystem can have a positive impact on the other ecosystems that surround us.
The goal of all of these efforts is to provide a community where businesses can feel confident about their operations, their safety, their plans for expansion and their future. On the other side of the coin, those same feelings should be provided to citizens who want to live, work and raise their families here. The ecosystem is stronger if all those factors are working together and we look forward to those partnerships.
Greg Garrett is Tehachapi's city manager.