East Kern County’s economy is driven primarily by two military installations (Naval Air Weapons Station-China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base), the Mojave Air and Space Port, and Rio Tinto Minerals. Spanning more than 8,000 square miles and encompassing a diverse group of communities—including incorporated cities (California City, Ridgecrest, and Tehachapi) and unincorporated communities (Boron, Mojave, and Rosamond)—the area struggled to mount a coordinated response to planned reductions in federal defense spending.
In an effort to improve coordination and strengthen connections among regional assets, Kern County engaged TIP Strategies to lead the preparation of a federally funded diversification plan, with support from Chabin Concepts (Chabin). TIP and Chabin worked with Kern County and key partner organizations, including the Kern Economic Development Corporation and the East Kern Economic Alliance, to create a bold and comprehensive set of strategies to accelerate economic development in East Kern. Working with the Mojave Air & Space Port on a targeted effort to expand existing businesses and recruit new companies to the region, including aerospace product manufacturers, service providers, and research and testing firms, was one of the plan’s most promising recommendations. Encouraging new strategic partnerships among the region’s military installations, higher education institutions, and other stakeholders to foster innovation and spur entrepreneurial activity was also a priority. Other key recommendations included packaging the region’s diverse menu of outdoor recreation and tourism assets to attract new visitors and talent into East Kern. In addition to the regional diversification plan, TIP created strategic plans tailored to the unique opportunities and challenges facing each of the region’s six communities.