Bakersfield is Booming

This may not be the place to write about economics and business but, well, that’s my prerogative.  Bakersfield is essentially the home of Nostalgia drag racing and arguably where drag racing got its start.  The Famoso Raceway is the quintessential drag strip with a history that goes back 60 years to the days when Bakersfield was having a renaissance with Western swing and country music.

From Fender Telecasters to fenderless diggers, Bakersfield was honky-tonk and cool, all wrapped up in one as the Central California city had a boom of sorts.  And that brings me to another boom in the land that gave us Buck Owens and the Ridge Route Terrors.  With most Americans still hogtied by the Great Recession, how is this gritty city in the Golden State prospering?  Oil, black gold, Texas tea … oh and libertarian business practices.

The Valley

For those who’ve never visited the San Joaquin Valley in California, it’s sometimes called the ‘breadbasket of the world’.  The mostly farming region stretches in the interior of central California from Bakersfield in the south to Sacramento in the north.  The Central Valley has been, at the very least, a mainstay in United States food production for a century or more.

Drag racers may have known the town in its early years as a farming community that had a hit-and-miss economy due to the oil business, but the boom that Bakersfield is experiencing is anything but a miss.  Bakersfield has turned from a dusty honky-tonk town into a thriving city that ranks as the ninth largest in California with a metropolitan population of nearly a million people.  And it’s growing.

English: In , USA

English: In , USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many factors

The economic boon is due to several factors that all seem to have come together at the same time.  Food prices continue to rise, making farming more worthwhile.  The oil boom is because of demand and the fact that prices have made renewing old oil platforms and rigs meaningful with new high-tech equipment.  Business begets business and other more diverse industries are now taking hold.  The renewable energy industry has grown in the area and insurance companies are making the centrally located Bakersfield their regional headquarters.

With cheap land, there are plenty of reasons to want to live in this boom town.  However, not everything is rosy.  The air quality is rated as one of the worse in the country and in fact, CNN Money rated it the worst.  Even though unemployment has dropped significantly, it is still well above the national average.  The summers can be stifling hot and you haven’t endured fog until you’ve suffered through Tule fog – trust me, it comes out of nowhere and is thick as pea soup.  As I mentioned before, the city has had bust times too and no one knows for sure if this time will also become a bust.

Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks

Good economic climate

The business climate is one of the best in the country.  City and county officials have kept taxes as low as they can and have also limited the cost of doing business.  The Bakersfield city politics are conservative in nature and that has helped limit over-regulating, which is unlike most other cities in the state.  The area has large business conferences such as the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference, which was headed up by model and business mogul Tyra Banks in 2012.

The March Meet, one of the largest and most famous races in motorsports, will be held March 7th through the 10th this year.  So, this gives you a good excuse to buy a BeverlyHillbilliesticket and come out to Famoso.  As Jed Clampett said, ‘Californy is the place you ought to be.’  Make that Bakersfield, California … it’s booming.

Additional sources: Businessweek

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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