By Ashley Loza
Kern Valley Sun
Kern County residents gathered at the fairgrounds in Bakersfield for the State of the County address on Wednesday, January 30.
The event was led by 4th District Supervisor David Couch, who returns to his position after being held to a surprise special election last year when the county had to redraw its district lines.
Speakers included Richard Cohen, Managing Director of Rio Tinto Borates, who gave an in-depth look at the company’s relationship with not only Kern County, but its employees and customers.
Supervisor Couch went on to give a positive outlook of Kern’s achievements, acknowledging that while Kern County had seen many challenges in 2018, the work being done to keep improving the county’s economic development would create a bright future.
“What we really only have is right now,” said Couch. “We have this moment.”
Couch pointed to some of the county’s economic successes over the last year, such as Kern being named the number two oil producing county in the nation and the wind capital of the world. He also talked about the incentive packages that Kern offers that have brought distribution centers for companies like Amazon and L’Oreal to the area.
Couch also addressed the county’s budget, which has made slow but steady improvement since the price of oil dropped significantly in recent years. With cuts across county services, Kern County has been able to slowly regain traction, and Couch said that the county’s budgetary issues are expected to be mitigated in the next 1-2 years.
Overall, Couch stressed that Kern County residents should take pride in their home, saying that a recent survey showed that, “The rest of the country feels more positively about Kern County than the people that live here do.”
“The future is really bright,” said Couch. “We don’t even realize the potential we have in some cases, and we really just need to get out there and tell our own story.”