In our last two blogs, we’ve looked at the statistics on how the pandemic has affected women in Kern County and we’ve also taken a personal look at how this last year has affected us. Now it’s time to talk about what I believe to be the good news.
I’ll be honest; when I made the appointment to talk to Richard Chapman, the President and CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corporation, I thought I would be getting more stats on what’s going on in our area. And while Richard is an amazing resource, what I got was so much more.
When I began our discussion with, “So, how has the pandemic affected the people in Kern County?” Richard answered thoughtfully, “We just don’t know yet. It’s going to be a while before we know for sure.”
And that makes sense. After all, we’re still in the middle of it – so it could be a while before we really understand the long-term effects in our area.
However, what Richard has seen affected are some of the outreach programs that were just beginning to gain traction, much of which came to a halt when the country shut down. I could tell just by talking to him that he takes the wellbeing of the people in our community seriously and that he was disappointed with how this could affect people from elementary school-aged kids to adults already in the workforce.
But I said there was good news, right?
The good news is that these programs are there. While talking to Richard, I realized that Kern County has some of the most effective and meaningful outreach programs in the country. The people in this community care for each other and are willing to help.
Which is what I believe will be our way out of the pandemic.
Kern Initiative for Talent and Entrepreneurship (K.I.T.E.)
Kern County wants your new business to find a home in our community – so much so that it’s developed a program called K.I.T.E to help entrepreneurs get off the ground. The initiative was founded by Kern EDC and the Seedcore Foundation and helps startups by identifying funding sources, mentors, talent supply, and spaces. Kern County was recently ranked in the Top 5 in the U.S. (Economy.com) in terms of startup activity.
As a side note, Richard also mentioned that the cost of living in Kern County is some of the most affordable in the country – perfect for someone just starting a business.
Kern County wants its community members to succeed from the very beginning – that’s why they’ve developed a mentoring program that brings in professionals in STEM-based careers (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). This allows the kids to not only understand more about what’s involved in each career path, it’s also shown that the students get more excited about school overall when they’re working with a mentor. And who knows where these professional relationships might lead? It’s never too early to start networking.
A Growing Community
Pre-pandemic, Kern County was growing, and it still is – but maybe for different reasons. With the increase in remote working, more people are opting out of expensive city centers and choosing to plant roots in a more affordable community.
Over the years, Kern County has also made it enticing for businesses to locate or expand in the region by offering tax credits for companies that create additional jobs and capital investments in the area (www.advancekern.com). And for those who are concerned about the current COVID crises, the county has created a website, Kern County Recovers, with programs that specifically offer funding and PPE (personal protective equipment). (Please note that the application deadlines have now passed, although there may be additional funding opportunities in the spring.)
A Lot to be Grateful For
I know it’s sometimes hard to feel grateful when what we’re currently experiencing is so difficult. After reading through our last two blogs about how the pandemic has affected us, we all know that it’s not just about the numbers – real people are going through some unimaginable hardships.
But it’s funny how this blog series took a different turn for me – I was expecting to end it with more statistics that illustrated more of the negative impacts of COVID-19. Don’t get me wrong – it’s terrible. But after talking to Richard I found myself so grateful and relieved to be living in this community. We’ve all experienced the ups and downs of the economy throughout the years here in Kern County, but we also live in a place where people really do care and want us to succeed. I have personally witnessed many examples of our community chipping in to help each other, over and over. Groups of us have collected food for The Mission at Kern County, served meals and delivered food to the homeless population at The Blessing Corner Ministries on Union Avenue. A group of us put our money together and delivered sandwich platters to local Emergency Rooms, to feed the healthcare teams. At Christmas time, a fundraising effort was held for senior citizens living in Kern County; the donations of essential items were tremendous and heartwarming to witness.
I was so blessed by being a part of each of these outreach efforts during the pandemic. And I love being part of this community.
Do you have questions about where you are and where you’re going with your financial plan? Let’s talk about it. I know that you have a lot on your mind, but you might rest easier just getting some questions answered. Contact me at Debbie.Charpentier@lfg.com.
Debbie Charpentier has been serving clients since 1989 by using a holistic, comprehensive approach that helps clients create the life they value and the legacy they envision. Charpentier Wealth Strategies is a Bakersfield, CA Financial Planning practice that offers fee-based financial planning services. To contact Debbie, email Debbie.Charpentier@LFG.com. http://charpentierwealth.com/