Like so much about Tehachapi, location is what makes the area's economy unique.
Where else do specialty agriculture and tourism mix with aerospace, incarceration, manufacturing and renewable energy in what remains a thriving business community?
The region's topography, geography and climate combine in different ways to provide benefits not found anywhere else. They form the economic foundation for many professionals and business people living in and around Tehachapi.
One of the most obvious examples is the area's wind power industry. Visitors to the area quickly notice the towering investments that energy companies and utilities have made in mountain wind turbines that together produce enough power to support an estimated half-million people.
Corey Costelloe, the city of Tehachapi's economic development coordinator and assistant to the city manager, noted that while big names in wind energy have come and gone, significant players such as World Wind and Solar maintain national headquarters in Tehachapi to support and manage wind farms.
The area's high elevation and unique climate have also given rise to the production of quality produce — apples are a particular point of local pride — as well as award-winning wines and grass-fed beef.
It doesn't hurt being located half an hour from the Mojave Air and Space Port, a veritable hub of aerospace innovation and achievement, where space-flight history has been made many times.
Not far away is the Antelope Valley, which is also steeped in rocket lore. Lovers of flight are additionally drawn to Skylark North, Tehachapi's full-service glider flight school.
Not to be forgotten is the stabilizing economic force of the California Correctional Institution. First opened in 1932 in Cummings Valley, west of Tehachapi, the state prison has long been one of the area's most important employers.
Tourists come for the enjoyment alone, whether it's to witness the Tehachapi Loop — Union Pacific Railroad's three-quarter-mile loop through Tehachapi Pass — or to experience the quaint businesses and natural beauty to be found in the city and its surroundings.
Costelloe takes pride in the fact that small businesses and large corporate entities co-exist successfully in Tehachapi's business environment.
He pointed to a recently opened Walmart that did not lead local businesses to close, despite some worries that it might.
"Our small business community continues to be diverse and successful," he said. "Our planning and zoning efforts allowed us to separate our major commercial corridors for corporate entities while preserving downtown for small, locally-owned businesses and utilizing industrial areas for small manufacturing operations."
"I regularly work with corporations looking to plant a flag in Tehachapi and small businesses looking to open or expand," Costelloe added. "It's a great testament to how there is a place for everyone in this community and each business has a role to play in our overall economic health."