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By Tina Fisher Cunningham
Fisher Forde Media 

'Definitely possible' in Kern - Regional innovation centers spark economic growth

The Forde Files No. 150


Tina Fisher Cunningham

Kern Economic Development Corporation President and CE0 Richard Chapman told the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council July 5 that hubs of technology and business innovation are sprouting up and driving economic growth.

Typically, the hubs – known as regional innovation centers -- are private-public partnerships that provide space, resources and infrastructure for start-ups and businesses that are moving up through a cycle of technological growth (see graphic on the Silicon Valley waves of innovation).

"These are incubator accelerators that mentor businesses," he said.

In Kern County, Chapman said, "We need to add another layer of new business" to drive the next wave of innovation.

"We want to create a public/private sector incubator accelerator."

With its rich resources of renewable energy, energy storage, space technology and diversified industry, "Kern County is a great location for folks looking to take their business to the next level," he said.

Chapman held up the BitWise initiative in Fresno as a good example of a regional innovation center.

Tina Fisher Cunningham

"Five years ago it started with 5,000 square feet," he said. "Now it is 200,000 square feet."

Other hubs, anchored at university centers, spur innovation in agriculture and water.

In California, these hubs include the Water, Energy and Technology Center and Bluetech Valley.

Also known as "maker spaces," the centers trigger innovation in a variety of fields. As an example, Chapman said, one facility he encountered at a recent convention was developing new technology for ice fishing.

Kern County, he said, is business-friendly.

"We are one of the pro-business counties," he said. Other counties, he said, are pushing the industrial component away.


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