The Kern EDC along with KGET-17 broadcasted the 23rd Annual State of the County event virtually due to Covid-19

Razan Makhlouf, Reporter

Richard Chapman, President & CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corporation, provided an update about the economic outlook in Kern County.
“Kern County is ranked number two in the country for AG production, number seven for Oil,” he said. “We’re top communities in the county for start-up businesses, number one for engineering salaries, the third most diversified economy in the country, and the most livable metro in the U.S.”
Chapman talked about how Amazon opened a 2.6 million square foot facility helped hire thousands of workers in the region. Also, the Hard Rock Casino project will create 2000 permanent jobs as well as 1000 construction jobs, bringing new money and tourists around the country to Kern County. “In Bakersfield, Bitwise Industries will open soon, elevating our tech-echo system in the region,” he said.
Philip Peters, newly elected chairman of the Kern County Board of Supervisors, discussed current issues and the year ahead.
“The county has been slow due to the coronavirus, the pandemic has taken a big impact over us in the last year, and we are focusing on making sure that our medical facilities are operational. Rolling out the vaccine is a big part right now. With that in mind, we are supporting small businesses. We want to protect people’s lives and make sure we do this surely but safely as we reopen,” he said.
When asked about what he would like to see the county accomplish in 2021, Peters is eager to see the county come out of the pandemic more efficient than ever before. He wants to re-establish a comprehensive permitting program for the oil industry. “oil is one of the most important things in our county because it provides a large amount of our revenue.”
As for his expectations for Kern county in the coming years, Peters wants to focus on long-term strategic financial planning for the county and figuring out different resources for different departments. According to Peters, “it is important to find ways to bring new industries into the county. The Tejon Indian Tribe is very close to getting their final approval for their Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. We have a lot of solar projects slated for this coming year that are going to be providing more revenue for the county.”
Peters understands the issues facing Kern County in 2021, but he is “hopeful that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 2021 is a launchpad for our financial success in the following year. This year is going to be about recovering and getting our feet back from underneath us,” he said.