Bob Gorson is the City Manager of Taft (Kern County) and has 33 years of General Management experience, including 17 years in municipal management. He is a regular contributor to

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Oil Industry: Kern County, CA is the heartland of the oil industry.  Kern County produces up to 77% of all the oil produced in California and is the 4th largest producing oilfield in the Nation.  The oil industry is the leading economic engine that employs thousands of relatively high-paid workers and hundreds of private contractor firms that employ hundreds of additional workers. 

The oil industry is Kern County’s largest revenue generator and creates hundreds of millions of dollars every year.  Up to 4 billion barrels may be added to reserves in the existing oil fields according to the U.S. Geological Surveys conducted in 2001 and again in 2007.  And all of this was before Occidental’s discovery of 150 to 250 million additional barrels of oil and natural gas in July 2009. 

Some experts believe that this new find could spark heavy exploration in the near future that could extend Kern County’s reputation as the Oil Capital of California.  At the least, the local economy should see increased exploration and that means jobs and increased revenue streams for many years beginning in 2010.

Alternative Energy: Meanwhile, Kern County is developing a reputation as an alternative energy innovator.  The Tehachapi Wind Resource Area will generate $45 million a year in new taxes and create hundreds of high-paying jobs when it reaches 4,600 MW by 2030.  Educational institutions are already making plans to teach the needed skills for the new “Green” technology jobs for the wind fields.

Also, the $ 2 Billion Hydrogen Energy project in nearby Buttonwillow will generate 250 MW of Clean Energy, 1,500 construction jobs, 100 new operating jobs and several million dollars in annual tax revenues.  The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded $308 million to Hydrogen Energy because their study concluded that a significant portion of California’s onshore “stranded oil” – up to 5 billion barrels – is potentially recoverable using the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.

So, Kern County looks like it has a promising future thanks to the oil industry and new alternative energies like wind and Hydrogen Energy’s CO2 project.  These new developments should be economic engines for Kern County till 2030 and beyond.  In other words, Kern County may be a great place to consider if you are planning a new career!

The City of Taft: Taft’s early beginning was the discovery of oil known as Midway-Sunset in 1879 according to an article titled “The Story of Oil in Taft” by R.M. Barger on 10/10/1960.  Taft has been a good partner to the oil industry ever since and we will continue to embrace our oilfield heritage as we develop new plans to diversify our local economy.  We want to create 6,000 new jobs, primarily in alternative energy, renewable fuels and/or light manufacturing. 

Please consider the following:

•    Solar Initiatives – We have a 100 MW Solar Thermal Project and also have several PV solar farms from 20 MW to 200 MW that are locating within our proposed Sphere of Influence (SOI).   Our solar initiatives are expected to provide clean energy for the region, reduce or eliminate the City’s energy bill and create hundreds of high-wage “Green” jobs.  We are also analyzing municipal solar generation proposals that will not only save the City of Taft on our electric utility bill but will also create jobs and assist in showcasing our community as a “Clean Energy” city. 

•    Alternative Energy and Renewable Fuel Industries – We are also encouraging renewable fuel providers to consider Taft as a great place to start or expand their business.  We already have one alternative fuel (diesel biofuel) company in Taft and another is about to sign a lease agreement.  We are working with a local property owner/developer that already has a 72-acre “shovel ready” industrial park and has plans to develop an additional 123 acres.  KERN EDC is assisting in marketing the site and the City of Taft is about to apply for the California Department of Real Estate certification database that will provide national exposure on the U.S. Certified Sites Web site.  We are encouraging alternative energy and renewable fuel companies to evaluate this site but we will permit almost any industrial use at this location.  We are serious about bringing new jobs to Taft!

•    Other New Job Initiatives – We have a city-owned, 27-acre parcel that will be developed as a light manufacturing/alternative energy/renewable fuels industrial park.  We are applying for a $1.7 Million EDA Grant that will provide the funding for all of the public infrastructure improvements.  This project will provide extremely attractive lease terms for the specific uses that we want to attract.
•    Enterprise Zone – The City of Taft was recently awarded the Enterprise Zone designation.  “California Enterprise Zones give communities a chance to develop their economic potential, improve their quality of life and contribute to the state’s economy. Enterprise Zones are part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to increase the number of jobs through state and local incentives,” said HCD Director Lynn L. Jacobs.  “This is the single most important building block for Taft’s economic growth that the city has had in many, many years,” said Lucille Holt, Taft City Grants Administrator. “Its good news because it is not just for new businesses, but for existing Taft businesses as well.”

Businesses within Enterprise Zones are eligible for substantial tax credits and benefits, for example:

– Firms can earn $37,440 or more in state tax credits for each qualified employee hired.

– Corporations can earn sales tax credits on purchases of $20 million per year of qualified machinery and machinery parts.

– Up-front expensing of certain depreciable property.

– Lenders to Zone businesses may receive a net interest deduction.

– Unused tax credits can be applied to future tax years, stretching out the benefit of the initial investment.

– Enterprise Zone companies can earn preference points on state contracts.

– Up to 100% Net Operating Loss (NOL) carry-forward. NOL may be carried forward 15 years.


As you can see, Kern County and the City of Taft are positioned for an exciting future.  We are also working with 4th District Supervisor Ray Watson regarding other plans that will create even more exciting possibilities for the greater Taft area.

If you are looking for a place to start or expand your business and you are interested in a SAFE community that prides itself in zero tolerance for gang activity and graffiti, you should consider Taft. 

Interested parties are encouraged to contact Taft City Manager Bob Gorson at (661) 763-1222, extension 12.  Specific questions about our Enterprise Zone should be directed to Grant Administrator/Enterprise Zone Director Lucille Holt at (661) 763-1222, extension 30.