Highlighting success within the economic landscape of our community
Economic Development Update
November 7, 2020
Panda Express hiring for Tehachapi Location
Panda Express, a subsidiary of Panda Restaurant Group will held a hiring event on Friday, October 30 for their Tehachapi location set to open within the next few months. Construction on the project started mid-summer and the new location on Tucker Road is moving briskly through the construction process and now staffing the new restaurant is becoming a priority.
Panda Restaurant Group hosted a "Virtual Interview Day" for their nearly 40 positions that are expected to staff the Tehachapi location. Positions include Service & Kitchen Team members along with Restaurant Managers. According to Panda Restaurant Group, full-time associates are offered progressive compensation packages with bonus opportunity, paid training, career and leadership development, medical and dental benefits along with a 401k with company match.
The new Panda Express will feature a dining room as well as drive thru service and is located in the northwest corner of the Walmart parking lot.
Panda Express will become the fourth new restaurant to open in 2020 in the City of Tehachapi while bringing additional employment opportunities to the area joining 4 Seasons Café, Prime Bar & Grill and Tacos El Superior. It is estimated that each new restaurant has added nearly 200 total jobs this year.
How COVID-19 has impacted commuting and miles driven
The commuting population in Tehachapi represents a significant portion of the eligible workforce and shapes economic development efforts as well. Prior to COVID-19, studies from the IRS and US Census Bureau spoke of 60 percent of the active work force commuting outside of Tehachapi daily.
That was well-represented in the new transit center and park and ride facility completed in Downtown in late 2018. For over a year the parking lot was nearly at capacity during the work week. Since the shift in work habits since COVID-19, a handful of cars are slowing trickling back in. Also aiding in that optic are college classes as online learning at places like Bakersfield College, which provided low to no-cost bus passes via Kern Regional Transit, are not being held in person.
Aside from the empirical data one notices with fewer parking stalls full and fewer cars on the road, what was impact of COVID-19 on the daily driving habits in Kern County?
Streetlight Data recently released a county-by-county interactive tool that showcases the ability to see adjusted vehicle miles traveled (VMT) from the start of the pandemic to current day. This data and algorithms are updated every two days. While the data is not broken down specifically by city, the Kern County data paints a consistent picture with the economy, COVID-19 response and who is driving less as a result.
For example, the biggest drop was immediate, with Kern County driving 31 percent less on April 1, just after lockdown measures, stay-at-home orders and many businesses were shuttered. This represents a reduction from over 26 million miles driven as of March 1, to 17.3 million miles on April 1. Running the numbers for just the first of every month shows a 14 percent reduction in May, a 17 percent reduction in June, a 4 percent reduction in July (after things had opened up slightly before being rolled back again), a 4 percent reduction from baseline in August and a 9 percent reduction as of the most recent data in September.
This data shows Kern County is still driving less than the time prior to COVID-19 but has slowly been increasing VMT over the last several months. This data is important to economic development, especially in communities like Tehachapi where the traveling public is vital to the local economy along with the major trade corridor of Highway 58. Also, new additions like restaurants, retail and other business ventures rely on either local workforce during the day or focus on commuting traffic early in the morning or in the evening for purchases.
You can access the tool here at http://www.streetlightdata.com/VMT-monitor-by-county/#methodology and see how Tehachapi and Kern County are stacking up with the rest of the country.
Hitching Post Theater targets first moviegoers since March
Hitching Post Theater, Tehachapi's lone movie theatre, is targeting a November 27 reopening for customers marking the first business at the movie house since being shut down in March due to COVID-19. For more information on reopening guidelines visit their website at http://www.hitchingposttheaters.com/home.html.
Rail Depot Museum announces reopen date
The Tehachapi Rail Depot Museum, owned by the CIty of Tehachapi and operated by the "Friends of the Tehachapi Depot" will reopen with a limited schedule on Saturday, November 7 and operate two days a week. See http://www.tehachapidepot.com.
Planning Commission Update: 'The Address' receives recommendation from Planning Commission
The Address, a proposed 238-unit housing community, received a recommendation of approval for the planned development at the corner of Tucker Road and Highline by the City of Tehachapi Planning Commission. The project's master development plan will now head to the Tehachapi City Council for final approval. More details about the project and housing types can be found in the planning commission agenda at http://www.liveuptehachapi.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10262020-149.
Small Business Development Center Presents Award in Tehachapi
City Manager Greg Garrett accepts the "Champion of the Year" award from the Central Valley Small Business Development Center. Read the entire article in The Loop online at http://www.theloopnewspaper.com/story/2020/10/24/happenings/small-business-award-presented-to-city-manager/7342.html.
For more Economic Development News visit http://www.liveuptehachapi.com/303/Economic-Development-News.