Kern Business Journal Winter 2021

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KERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

Vol. 9, No. 4

Winter 2021

75¢

Community Business: Managing the pandemic’s ‘new normal’

to benefit your business

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Finance: Four lessons to remember this year 8 Retail & Commercial: New offerings and ammenities coming soon to Tejon Ranch

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Agriculture: Water Association of Kern County commemorates

Kern’s water legacy with campaign

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Cover story

CSUB’S SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER WEEKLY WEBINARS GUIDE SMALL BUSINESSES THROUGH PANDEMIC BY JOHN COX jcox@bakersfield.com

K

Please see SMALL BUSINESS | 4 Presorted Standard U.S. Postage PAID Bakersfield, CA Permit No. 838

PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER

TOP: Cal State Bakersfield’s Small Business Development Center holds a free webinar series noon to 1 p.m. every Wednesday. BOTTOM: Chief Operations Officer James Zervis discusses funding Kern County received from the CARES Act during a webinar.

Kern Business Journal

Kern Business Journal 3700 Pegasus Bakersfield, CA 93302

Monday, February 15, 2021

elly Bearden figured if Kern County small businesses were going to survive the pandemic they would need accurate, up-to-date information about government assistance programs at a time when that topic was little understood and mutating quickly. From the start he was convinced the best way to disseminate vital information about business loans and grants was a weekly Kelly Bearden internet broadcast in which his guests and he could go over key points and timely advice. “It was really kind of a blessing,” the

director of Cal State Bakersfield’s Small Business Development Center said, “because (the format) enabled us to put out on … a weekly basis the kind of information that I don’t know we could have gotten out any other way.” Now at about episode 50, the unbroken series of free webinars from noon to 1 p.m. every Wednesday is viewed as having guided many hundreds, possibly thousands of local entrepreneurs through the biggest economic challenge in generations. What’s more, it has helped shape county government’s view of local small business needs — and even its response to them. Kern County Chief Operations Officer James L. Zervis said by email his experience participating in the webinars was “very beneficial” and that he has appreciated the unique, diverse network

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Kern Business Journal

Monday, February 15, 2021

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Editor Ema Sasic esasic@bakersfield.com

Winter 2021 Vol. 9, No. 4 Kern Business Journal is a publication of TBC Media.

Specialty Publications Designer Julie Mana-ay Perez

Copies are available from The Bakersfield Californian, Kern Economic Development Corp., Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce and by subscription.

To subscribe 661-392-5777

Publisher Cliff Chandler cchandler@bakersfield.com 661-395-7521

Contact us 3700 Pegasus Drive Bakersfield, CA 93308 661-395-7500 kbj@bakersfield.com

Executive Editor Christine Peterson cpeterson@bakersfield.com

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ANTHONY NGUYEN ARCHITECTURAL & ENGINEERING DESIGNS

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Cover Story

Community Business FREEPIK.COM

SMALL BUSINESS

Kern Business Journal

Monday, February 15, 2021

Continued from PAGE 1

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of engaged small business owners tuning in to Bearden’s presentations and question-and-answer sessions. Zervis called the webinar series an effective tool for sharing information about the county’s Kern Recovers forgivable loans and personal-protective equipment programs. He added that the broadcasts’ interactivity imparted benefits in both directions. “The format was particularly helpful in allowing small businesses to ask clarifying questions and for the county to better understand their needs and design programs accordingly,” he stated. The series officially launched March 18, one day before California announced its first stay-athome order. Bearden said the broadcasts would have started days before that, but there was a scheduling conflict with the county’s annual economic summit. He said he was familiar with the value of webinars, having used them previously to share information about government responses to the Erskine Fire

of 2016 and the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes. Armed with timely information direct from the U.S. Small Business Administration and a background in finance, Bearden said it was natural for him to make remote presentations and take questions online. Still, source information changed constantly and he felt like he spent the whole summer interpreting government guidance on recovery programs. Once, in July, he hosted the webinar while floating in a swimming pool. Only twice was he not the host of a broadcast, and on both occasions he was working on the production side while giving hosting duties to his frequent guest, Keith Brice, president of Bakersfield’s Mid State Development Corp. As Brice recalled, the series gained traction at just the right time, when things were changing quickly and there was a glut of incorrect information going around. Just when people were settling into the work-fromhome routine, he said, the broadcast succeeded in sharing important information from government and lenders with small businesses that were desperate for it. “I heard from several of my customers and business associates that were pleased with this as a source of in-

formation,” Brice said. “I was pleasantly surprised,” he added, “how many small businesses embraced this way of communication.” The president and CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, Nick Ortiz, said by email the weekly webinars have been a great platform for sharing emerging information about critical matters such as loan and grant eligibility, applications and reporting obligations. They have become a trusted resource providing “actionable advice and eased minds” amid confusion and sometimes conflicting directives. Ortiz wrote. “I think they made a big difference for many business owners — distilling at times confusing and conflicting information into a consistent and accessible educational series,” he added. Bearden humbly agrees the webinars have become an effective tool. About 350 people per week participated at the peak in July, he said, but the series has averaged about half that. People aren’t calling him to say he saved their business, Bearden said, but he does get a lot of thank-yous. “Informative is the word I hear the most,” he said, “and I’m grateful for that.”

State COVID-19 rules pose risks to employers

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recent eye-popping headline in The Bakersfield Californian that reported a Kern County agricultural company and its three labor contractors have been fined $77,500 by a state agency for failing to protect workers from contracting COVID-19 should give all employers cause to worry. As reported by the newspaKaren Bonanno per, citations issued by the state Department of Industrial Relations accused the companies of not having a plan to protect workers, or failing to properly train them. The citations, which stemmed from COVID-19 outbreaks in May and June 2020, alleged that workers were placed too close together at Primex Farms’ Wasco pistachio and almond processing and packing plant, often without face masks and without adequate sanitation facilities. Issued in December, the citations reportedly levied $27,500 in penalties against the plant’s Los Angeles-based owner Primex Farms LLC; $27,500 against San Luis Obispo-based United Staffing Associates LLC; $11,250 against Bakersfield-based H&R Labor Contracting LLC; and $11,250 against Selma-based Jacobo Farm Labor Services Inc. Regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, which was spotlighted in the media by the United Farm Workers, Primex said in late June that 31 plant workers had tested positive for the virus. However, the union contends the number

had risen to 80 by early July. And that number did not include 36 positive tests among the families of plant workers. In July and later in December, representatives of the companies denied the allegations, contending the Wasco operation was complying with state COVID-19 rules. The Wasco case likely is a sign of more employer liability to come as Republicans and Democrats are on a collision course in Congress over attempts to indemnify private companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies from COVID-19 “injuries” as the pandemic continues to spread in workplaces in California and throughout the nation. With Congress soon to be asked to pass another round of COVID-19 relief legislation, Republicans are pushing to at least limit employer liability, while Democrats are aiming to hold companies accountable. Among the safety laws the California Legislature passed last year are Senate Bill 1159 and Assembly Bill 685, which place increased responsibilities on employers to protect workers, and to notify state and local agencies and employees of workplace outbreaks. SB 1150 designates a wide range of circumstances in which it will be presumed under the law that an employee contracted COVID-19 at the workplace. This would result in the employee being entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. In a nutshell, California employers must follow all COVID-19 safety precautions, keep records, report positive COVID-19 tests to their workers’ Please see RISK | 5


Community Business

Managing the pandemic’s ‘new normal’ to benefit your business A

FREEPIK.COM

RISK

Continued from PAGE 4

dir.ca.gov/

■■ Unless a company has

Karen Bonanno is president of the Bakersfield-based human resources consulting firm P.A.S. Associates and P.A.S. Investigations. She can be contacted through her website www.PASassociates. com and through the P.A.S. Facebook page.

John Pryor, CPCU, ARM. AAI, AIS is a lead management consultant at CSU Bakersfield’s Small Business Development Center. To register for complimentary counsel, go to www.csub.edu/sbdc. Businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible. To purchase a copy of his book,”Quality Risk Management Fieldbook” at a discounted price, email johnpryorqrm@gmail.com for details. A complimentary copy of sample templates is also available with a request by email.

Kern Business Journal

transitioned to an exclusively “remote” workplace, where employees no longer report on site, a manager, or team of managers should be designated to coordinate COVID-19 compliance, including providing workers with protective devices, safety training, worker separation and access to sanitation facilities. Notification procedures must be developed and implemented to comply with state law. To allow Kern’s economy to open, businesses to operate and workers to be safe, the pandemic must be controlled. That means state and federal laws must be followed.

world in all sizes and types of organizations. Robert Kaplan and David Norton (both Ph.D.) created the Balanced Scorecard (BSC). It brings together — all on a single page — the three elements of strategic planning, quality management and risk management. In addition, it provides a “scorecard” that shows metrics not only for current year results, but also yearto-date progress, plus last year’s results, all on a single page! As this tool’s name implies, operational objectives need to be “balanced” so no single element (of the four mentioned above) overwhelms the others. With such balance, Kaplan and Norton say the probability is greatly increased that the plan will be successful! If not balanced, there’s no assurance of success, they say. This usually calls for you to draft three or four annual operational objectives (KPIs) for each grouping of objectives: customer focus, process improvement, professional development and financial targets. You may have noticed this grouping coincides with the major elements of Six Sigma quality management! Lean’s focus on elimination of waste can also be factored into the BSC. Risk management KPIs should be included in one or more of the operational objectives. A risk management system is composed of these processes: risk identification and measurement, risk avoidance, risk control (safety, security, fire prevention, etc.), risk transfer (to others by contract including insurance) and risk assumption (partial or total). It’s highly recommended that you supplement the BSC with a graphic dashboard. Like your car’s dashboard, it shows what direction you’re headed, how fast you’re moving toward your destination, how much gas (money) is in the tank (bank) — and other KPIs — usually each year for the past five years (for trending). Finally, one additional tool will be helpful: an action plan. It details who will do what by when and for how much — to accomplish each operational objective. This tool is best drafted by employees who are to accomplish the objective to which it refers. Once drafted and ready to implement, pre-approval by you should be required before implementation, especially where funding is needed. That’s it! With these leadership tools in place, you and your business should be well positioned to successfully plow through the challenges and opportunities ahead for all of us in the coming “new normal.”

Monday, February 15, 2021

compensation claims administrator, and coordinate responses with affected employees. AB 685 requires employers to provide written notices of potential exposure to COVID-19 to employees, subcontractors and union representatives who were on site during an infection period. Essentially, the law, which will be in effect until Jan. 1, 2023, requires employers to immediately update their policies and procedures to comply with COVID-19 rules, and create a process for notifying employees and public health departments. As the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to change and expand, so do employer responsibilities. To keep up with these changes, keep workers safe and limit risks, employers should: ■■ Regularly check the state Department of Industrial Relations website for updates. Go to https://www.

s every business owner moves into the aftermath of the pandemic, major uncertainty lies ahead. The overriding question is how can you maximize profits and reduce uncertainty about your business? To effectively answer this question, at least three distinct disciplines — or leadership tools — need to be employed. These tools are strategic and operational plans, a quality management system and a risk management system. There’s no “cookie-cutter” solution. Each business is unique. For this reason, the following information describes a format — but not any content – yet these templates make it much easier to create John Pryor content. First, it’s critical to envision what your business is to “look like” in three to five years. That’s the “what” of planning – but not the “how” to do so. It’s formally called a “vision statement.” Following this initial, usually succinct, statement, you need to think through your mission statement — your overall business purpose — your raison d’etre (reason for being). If you already have a mission statement, it may be relevant today despite the pandemic. Mission statements are rarely revised. Yet, if new opportunities have emerged from the pandemic, it may make sense to consider a revision. Also of great importance is a values statement. Here you “codify” what really matters to you. Your personal values can be inculcated into your business culture — again succinctly. Lots of examples are on the Internet. With these three statements in place, you’re perfectly positioned to draft long-term strategic goals with each ultimately intended to accomplish your vision. Strategic goals spell out in greater detail the “what” of any plan. For a key reason explained below, it works best if each strategic goal is focused on one of these four segments: your customers — from their perspective; your systems and processes — plus their continuous improvement; your employees’ professional development — both formal education and training; and your financial goals — stated more qualitatively than quantitatively (measurable metrics come in the next step). These planning steps cover what you want your business to accomplish. Now, your focus should shift to how you intend to do so — with annual operational objectives — your key performance indicators (KPIs) that work toward eventual accomplishment of each longterm Strategic Goal — all on a single sheet of paper! But first, a little background on this “single sheet of paper.” You may be thinking strategic plans usually require 20 to 50 pages! Historically, that’s true, but two Harvard Business School professors have changed history. Moreover, their “one-pager” has proven to work all over the

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Community Business

With a compass as part of its logo, Nonprofit Empowerment Center guides local charities toward resiliency

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Kern Business Journal

Monday, February 15, 2021

ne meaning of the word empowerment, “to promote self-actualization,” is the essence behind the proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Afforded such wherewithal, he can build upon it and learn to fish in challenging conditions such as deep waters, stormy weather or during times of scarcity. His sustainability — his survival — is thus safeguarded. That same spirit drives Kern Community Foundation’s newest endeavor under its Nonprofit Strengthening Initiative: the introduction of an online NonLouis Medina profit Empowerment Center (NEC) that now forms part of our website and can be easily accessed at kernfoundation.org/ empowerment.

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THE JOURNEY HERE For the better part of a decade, the Foundation has worked on improving the visibility, capacity and sustainability of Kern County’s nonprofits through grantmaking, training, networking, advocacy and such fundraising-focused efforts as our online day of giving, Give Big Kern, and our Jumpstart Fundraising Technical Assistance competitive grant program. Beginning in 2019, however, philanthropic organizations in California began talking about resiliency, defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties,” as another important strength to build up within the nonprofit sector in light of recent disastrous events that included devastating wildfires, mass shootings and, closer to home, the East Kern earthquakes — because, in such times of great need, nonprofits are invariably called upon to deliver more aid to hurting communities even as they themselves struggle to ensure their own sustainability. Little did we — and other members of the League of California Community Foundations (LCCF) — know that within a year of beginning to think proactively about resiliency, we would be called upon to assist in ensuring the resiliency of the nonprofit sector in the midst of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. “Now more than ever, nonprofit organizations need to think strategically about

surviving during challenging times,” said KCF President and CEO Kristen Beall Watson. “It’s simply not enough to think that the status quo will sustain critical community programs; nor can we look to generous donors or grants to continuously fill the gaps. Instead, seeking out resources to build stronger and more resilient organizations is key to moving forward.” FRIENDS ALONG THE WAY Thanks to a number of people and organizations that, metaphorically, have taught us to fish, we have, through the Nonprofit Empowerment Center, developed a robust web-based toolkit that includes: ■■ COVID-19 resources ■■ Leadership training opportunities ■■ Suggested aids and workshops for the effective implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices, as well as a list of local agencies involved in DEI work ■■ A Nonprofit Strengthening Events Calendar featuring online educational and training opportunities ■■ Links to funding resources ■■ Exclusively for nonprofits that are registered with Kern Community Foundation, access to Candid’s Foundation Directory Online (FDO), an exhaustive database for grant searches that boasts the profiles of more than 166,000 foundations, corporate giving programs, and grantmaking public charities. By becoming an FDO host, KCF is now officially a part of Candid’s Funding Information Network of more than 400 libraries, community foundations and other nonprofit centers that are helping nonprofit leaders become better seekers of grants and other fundraising resources. Funding for this effort was made possible through a COVID-19 nonprofit relief grant from the city of Bakersfield. The Community Foundation for Monterey County, an LCCF partner that already had in place its own web-based Center for Nonprofit Excellence, provided guidance and resources that kept us from having to reinvent the wheel. The design of the NEC logo and the engineering of this section within our website were done by Bakersfield graphic and web designer Alan Urquhart, who is also the designer of kernfoundation.org. Finally, much of the research for and content building of the Nonprofit Empowerment Center at Kern Community Foundation was done by intern Autumn Warren, a 2017 Centennial High School graduate

and former KCF scholarship recipient, who is now a Stanford University senior student majoring in computer science. THE JOURNEY FORWARD “The Nonprofit Empowerment Center at Kern Community Foundation is designed to provide resources for nonprofits of all shapes and sizes,” Beall Watson said. “It is specifically intended to adapt and respond to the nonprofit sector’s changing needs while also serving as a trusted resource for information on such topics as general operations, leadership training, fundraising, networking, and more.” Most NEC resources are available to the general public and, thanks to our partnership with Candid — an information service organization specializing in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, and whose vision is “a social sector capable of tackling the critical challenges and opportunities of our time” — many Candid online workshops

posted on our Nonprofit Strengthening Events Calendar are free. Use of the Foundation Directory Online, however, is reserved for local nonprofits that are registered with Kern Community Foundation and maintain a Silver or higher transparency rating on GuideStar.org, the largest database of information on nonprofits. Registration with the Foundation is free. Nonprofits can inquire about how to register with us by writing to info@kernfoundation. org. Local nonprofits are encouraged to visit the Nonprofit Strengthening Events Calendar at kernfoundation.org/empowerment to sign up for an hour-long introductory webinar customized for Kern on how to use the FDO that will be offered at 10 a.m. March 18.

Louis Medina serves as director of Community Impact at Kern Community Foundation. He may be reached at Louis@kernfoundation.org.

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Finance What the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 impacts

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t a length of 5,593 pages, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“the Act”) became the longest bill ever passed by Congress this past December. A diverse piece of legislation, the Act impacts a multitude of different segments of society. Certain provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, including paid sick and family Joel A. Bock leave tax credits, the employee retention tax credit and the airline support program have been modified and extended by the Act. The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act (included as part of the Act) provides $284

billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (including a Second Draw Paycheck Protection Program for qualifying businesses for which there was a quarterly gross receipts reduction of at least 25 percent as compared to the same quarter in 2019), $15 billion in grants to shuttered venue operators and $20 billion in new Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance grants. The Act has also improved the federal tax consequences to taxpayers associated with these relief provisions allowing for deductibility of expenses paid with a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loan. Additionally, income is not taxable and expenses remain deductible for the SBA 7(a) debt relief program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance grants. Clean energy and environmental tax credits, which were modified and extended by the Act, include the section 179D energy efficient commercial building deduction

is extended permanently, section 45Q carbon oxide sequestration credit is extended through 2025, section 45 renewable electricity production tax credit for wind farms and other renewables is extended through 2021, section 48 energy investment credit for solar and other renewables is extended by lengthening the phase-out period and applying higher credit rates, section 40 second-generation biofuel credit is extended through 2021, section 25D residential energy-efficient property credit is extended at the full rate through 2022, excise tax credits and subsidy payments for alternative fuels are extended through 2021 and section 45L energy efficient homes credit is extended through 2021. Other tax provision extensions include the black lung disability trust fund excise tax imposed on coal is extended through 2021, the oil spill liability trust fund excise tax imposed on crude oil and imported petroleum products is extended through

2025, the section 45G railroad track maintenance credit is extended is being made permanent and the credit rate is reduced from 50 percent to 40 percent for tax years beginning after 2022, look-thru rules for related controlled foreign corporations are extended through 2025, the New Markets Tax Credit is extended through 2025, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit is extended through 2025, Empowerment Zone tax incentives are extended through 2025, the section 45S paid family and medical leave credit is extended through 2025 and the Indian employment credit is extended through 2021. Please consult your tax advisor to determine how the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 may impact your specific situation. Joel A. Bock, CPA, MST, is a partner in Daniells Phillips Vaughan & Bock, a Bakersfield accounting firm.

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Finance

2020 hindsight: 4 lessons to remember this year

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hile Kern County’s unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level since March 2020, many companies are still dealing with the acute impacts of the economic and social disruptions of the last year. Innovative companies can apply what they’ve learned to excel in 2021. Here are four ways that Mark Riley companies can build resilience, and weather future challenges, while being better positioned to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Kern Business Journal

Monday, February 15, 2021

FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE ISN’T JUST FOR HARD TIMES

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A thorough, proactive review of internal processes and key relationships can help protect your company. For example, cash flow issues are a common source of business failure, so it’s important to examine your supply chain and customer base for vulnerabilities that could impact your business and review customer payments to identify issues before they become larger problems. Cutting expenses in a defensive and reactive posture can have unintended consequences. Instead, create “what if” scenarios now and plan allocations for each. If the time comes, you can respond with a thoroughly vetted plan.

DON’T LET UNCERTAINTY DETER YOU FROM GROWTH The M&A market shifted in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus and widespread digital transformation. Companies with strong working capital and cash reserves could have a significant opportunity to put that to work through a merger or acquisition, especially if they have limited debt. If your company is not in a position to pursue M&A activity, develop a strategic plan for future growth. Start by identifying the top oppor-

Guidelines on governance and wealth management for nonprofits

I DEPOSITPHOTOS.COM

tunities facing your company right now, whether it’s market expansion, reaching a new customer segment or digitizing more of your business model. Consider potential hurdles you’ll face in pursuing these opportunities as it will help you formulate an actionable, prioritized plan specific to your situation.

MAKE CYBERSECURITY A BUSINESSCRITICAL PRIORITY Cybercrime is more of a risk in today’s remote work environment, so companies must prepare themselves. Criminals realize that workers are less protected when working remotely and are launching malware campaigns targeting people with insufficiently secured devices. To reduce vulnerable attack surfaces in your company, look to strengthen mobile device management, ensuring security tools and protocols are in place. Companies should also update and enforce a security policy for remote connectivity. Policies should provide guidelines on the safe use of public Wi-Fi, prohibit workers from transmitting sensitive information and require the use of VPNs and well-protected home routers. Finally, cybersecurity training can teach employees how to put essential safeguards in place while keeping cybersecurity top of mind across the company.

INVEST IN YOUR EMPLOYEES Just as you’re taking steps to safeguard cash flow and business operations, it’s essential to protect the wellbeing of your employees. Management should support employees even more holistically and proactively than before. Leaders can schedule more frequent communications with staff and play an active role in broader wellness areas like financial stability and mental health. Comprehensive wellness programs that support employees’ physical, mental and financial health are more important than ever today. The percentage of employees who rate their financial wellness as good or excellent declined from 61 percent in 2018 to 49 percent in 2020, and as many as 57 percent of employees feel their well-being has a great impact on their productivity, which could have major ripple effects on a company’s health. Financial wellness tools and education should cover a range of needs including saving for retirement, planning for healthcare costs, budgeting, saving for college and managing debt. While no one can predict what’s to come in 2021, these lessons from 2020 can help companies reignite growth and plan for financial success in the months ahead.

Mark Riley is the business banking regional executive for Bank of America.

n December 2019, when you could still gather in a classroom sans mask, I was invited to give a lecture as the presenter for the Dean’s Executive and Research Seminar series at Cal State Bakersfield. I had a packed house and the presentation was well received (though I have on occasion cleared out bigger rooms than that). Little did we all know how much the world would change in just three short months. The subject matter of the presentation was governance and wealth management, now more timely than ever with the impact of the pandemic on the economy and markets. Warren Buffet is fond of saying, “You don’t know who is wearing a bathing suit until the tide goes out.” With local foundations and endowments, the tide went out starting in February 2020 with the reaction of securities markets worldwide to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the implosion of oil prices when the Russians and Saudis were unable to agree on Frank J. Colatruglio production limits. As fundraising for nonprofits has slammed to a halt, many organizations have been forced to rely on their accumulated reserves and endowments, shining a spotlight on how well they have managed the fiduciary responsibility to preserve the real value of the resources they have been entrusted with. Real value means the value after inflation, distributions to beneficiaries and the associated costs to manage the assets. UCLA, for example, uses a required return target of 5 percent plus CPI net of asset management costs. The CSUB Foundation uses 5.25 percent plus CPI net of investment expenses pertaining to their endowment and reserves. CALPERS uses a 7 percent target, and it should be noted its chief investment officer was recently terminated after underperforming this return requirement for two years in a row. One of the entertaining (sad I know) activities I have engaged in as a result of having my work desktop at home has been the review of quite a few of the 990 tax returns required to be filed by local nonprofits, as well as their audited financial statements and Investment Policy Statements (IPS). These documents are Please see NONPROFITS | 9


Finance

NONPROFITS Continued from PAGE 8

years and since inception with peer group and benchmark comparisons. Using such a report, the interested community member can understand whether the organization has been successful in consistently performing in line with the stated performance objectives as stipulated by the Investment Policy Statement. If you serve on a nonprofit board you should understand principles of governance regardless of whether you are on the finance or investment committee. Your obligation is to the current and future beneficiaries of the organization. If you agree to serve on the investment committee, you should understand how to construct and evaluate an Investment Policy Statement, and be aware of how important it is to have one in place. Consistency of risk adjusted return and proper diversification for the economic cycle is what matters and avoiding heavily concentrated exposure in individual issues. Whether someone may have made money on their own investments is not a qualification to serve on the investment committee. Prospective board members should know that reporting transparency is a fiduciary obligation and organizations must make timely disclosures of financial results to the public. If you are a member

or contributor to a nonprofit organization that you care about, you should ask the executive director about how the organization communicates its results to the public. Ask about online disclosure and whether the website contains all of the documents necessary to review the financial performance of the organization. Making sure that our nonprofits are governed properly is the responsibility of everyone in the community who may benefit from the services and/or facilities provided by the organization. We should all want to know what is being done with public money, making sure that there are no undisclosed conflicts of interest and that board members are vetted for competence, not just whether or not they will write a big check to the organization. Frank J. Colatruglio, CFA, CFP, is managing director — investments for Colatruglio Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. He has been an adjunct lecturer in finance at CSUB and is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Los Angeles. Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

Farm, Ranch and Transitional Use Properties

COLD OR DRY STORAGE SALE PENDING 37,090+-square feet, storage, Earlimart FARMLAND $26,500±/AC 20+-acres, Kern Delta Water Dist, Kern Island Utility water, south Bakersfield TABLE GRAPES SOLD 37.91± ac and 60.14± ac, DEID water, Delano Area LAND $2,500±/AC 80± acres, poss bee-keeping, dry farming, mitigation, open space, recreation, or solar Buttonwillow Area, near Nwy 5 LAND OPPORTUNITY $16,635±/AC 150.29± acres, close to PGE sub-station, natural gas main line, high transmission power lines traverse the site. Buttonwillow, CA DRYLAND PRICED REDUCED $2,250±/AC 160 acres, mostly grade 1 soils, Near Valley Acres

ALMONDS & PISTACHIOS PRICED REDUCED $25,000±/AC 205.21± ac, Semi-Tropic WSD & well water, good soils, strong yields, Shafter Area. ALMONDS SALES PENDING 631.12± ac, wells and Semi-Tropic WSD non contact service, Productive soils, Wasco Area ALMONDS NEW PRICE $15,250±/AC 959.54± ac, wells and Semi-Tropic WSD non contact service, Productive soils FARMLAND SOLD 1,267,59± acres Corcoran Irrigation District Water, W. Corcoran PISTACHIOS SOLD 1827.34+- acres, planted to 1,194.01+- acres pistachios and 633.33+-acres farmland, Corcoran Irrigation District water. W. Corcoran Area

CalBRE Lic.#000020875

ROBB M. STEWART, AFM rstewart@pearsonrealty.com 661.303.2930

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www.pearsonrealty.com

KAMERON M. STEWART kstewart@pearsonrealty.com 661.809.1817

Kern Business Journal

When it is time to sell your farm there is only 1 decision! Pearson Realty a Tradition in Trust Since 1919

Monday, February 15, 2021

required to be furnished by the nonprofit upon request to whomever may wish to see them and are the minimum disclosure requirement for these organizations. Reviewing these documents can be a bit like solving a forensic accounting crossword puzzle. They always tell a story, and it can be one the organization is hoping you don’t look into too closely. To those who do look, what you find can be surprising. Audited Financial Statements that do not disclose the attribution for changes in the value of assets, for example. Asset allocation structures that contain too many non-traditional assets. Too much short term cash and cash equivalents and not enough traditional growth type holdings. Over weights in international equities or restrictions within the Investment Policy Statement handcuffing the actual asset manager by imposing limitations that should be delegated to the CIO or asset managers as they take into consideration economic and market conditions subject to a variety of changing factors. Persistent long-term underperformance vs. the relevant peer group under the guise of taking a “conservative” approach to asset allocation. This can be just an excuse for poor performance and an improperly specified risk profile. A well-written Investment Policy Statement is the first order of business when establishing a governance framework. This document provides the blueprint, so to speak, for the organization to stay on track toward accomplishing short- and long-term objectives established by the board of directors. Typically it will include a description of the organization and its objectives, current and future beneficiaries, the risk profile and annual return objective, strategic and tactical asset allocation guidelines and annual planned percentage distributions from any endowment, just to name a few. It is important to note that foundations and other nonprofit organizations are typically perpetuities with no mortality, unlike a natural person. As such, the most serious risk to most nonprofits is the loss of purchasing power or real value over time due to systemic underperformance vs. a properly specified benchmark and stated Investment Policy return objective. Organizations with outdated or poorly designed Investment Policy Statements that do not focus on the preservation of the real value of an endowment or asset pool after costs, inflation and distributions may lose ground that will be difficult to make up. This problem may have

been exacerbated this year if the finance or investment committee did not have asset managers in place prior to February who understood how to reallocate assets in order to benefit from the historic rally we have seen in technology, health care and fixed income since the Powell “credit backstop” press conference of March 23, 2020. Once objectives are established and the IPS is in place, implementation of the policy is next. This typically involves evaluating and hiring one or more professional asset managers which the board then will have the responsibility to superintend. The CIO (small foundations will often hire an outsourced chief investment officer, or OCIO) will typically recommend managers to the investment committee consistent with the asset allocation guidelines and, once hired, the board must monitor performance and risk adjusted return vs. properly designed benchmarks. They must replace managers who after a suitable time period are not providing superior risk adjusted results relative to their peer group. A CIO or OCIO should have proper industry qualifications, such as a CFA or CIMA designation and preferably be an expert in global macroeconomics and technical analysis. On a related note, an organization must have separation of governance and fiduciary responsibility from the actual individuals or organizations managing the money. That means you or any closely related individual to you should not under any circumstances have a seat on a board of directors at the same time that you or any closely related individual provides discretionary investment management services to an organization. The fiduciary line between governance and implementation of policy should be respected at all times by the organization and by providers of professional services to the organization. Communication with the public is another important principle. Public nonprofits taking in tax deductible contributions should have a website, and it is important for them to make timely, transparent disclosures of financial information to the public. Providing access to the 990, audited financial statements, performance reports, current revisions of the Investment Policy Statement and conflict of interest disclosures satisfy minimum reporting transparency requirements for nonprofits. The public can gain access in this way to historic income and expense data, balance sheet info and how much is being paid out to current beneficiaries vs. organizational expenses, how much money is received in contributions. They should in addition provide a synthesized report of performance for the last one, three and five

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Finance

Focus shifts to small business for US recovery H passed in December and signed elping small businesses into law by former President survive the financial Trump. The December action was ravages of the COVID-19 an extension of aid to small busipandemic is the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s economic nesses that Congress approved in recovery plan. the spring. Shortly before his inauguraThe rollout of the SBA’s $284 biltion, Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion lion Paycheck Protection Program American Rescue Plan, which in mid-January places greater includes $15 billion emphasis on smaller in grants to help the businesses and allows hardest hit businesses qualifying businesses and $35 billion for small that received money business financing. in the first round of The plan also inCOVID relief to apply again for funding. cludes money for the Loans are capped at distribution of vaccines $2 million, as opposed to help curb the deadly to $10 million in the first pandemic, which has Kelly Bearden PPP. In addition, money claimed more than can be used for pur400,000 American lives and shuttered thousands of small poses beyond “payroll protection.” businesses across the nation. Such purposes include operation, Biden must convince a closely property damage and supplier and divided Congress to support his worker protection expenditures. plan. “We have to act and we have Eligible applicants have been exto act now. We cannot afford inacpanded to include nonprofit orgation. … They’re hurting and they’re nizations, destination marketing hurting badly,” Biden said, as he organizations, housing cooperaunveiled his plan. tives, etc. Biden’s proposal comes on the Research by University of heels of the hard-fought comproSouthern California economists concluded in December that the mise COVID rescue plan Congress

COVID-19 pandemic could result in net losses starting at $3.2 trillion and reaching as much as $4.8 trillion in U.S. real gross domestic product over the course of two years. Real GDP is a measure, adjusted for inflation, that reflects the value and the quantity of final goods and services produced by a nation’s economy in a given year. The pandemic’s economic impact depends on factors such as the duration and extent of the business closures, the gradual reopening process, infection rates and fatalities, avoiding public places and pent-up consumer demand, according to research by the USC Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE). The researchers found that the mandatory closures and partial re-openings alone could result in a 22 percent loss of U.S. GDP in just one year and an even greater loss of GDP over two years. Other key factors, they noted, will influence how disastrous the losses may be. Clearly Congress and President Trump responded appropriately with two rounds of grants and

Kern Business Journal

Monday, February 15, 2021

In 2021, challenges remain

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020 will certainly be a contender for one of the most extraordinary years in our lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic (and the ensuing shutdowns) has had a devastating effect on a large number of businesses. Others have been lucky enough to survive, and others even thrived. What the pandemic has taught, if anything, is the need to adapt, be in tune with our finances and adapt some more. California once again introduced new laws that provides additional challenges to businesses including the following: ■■ Minimum wage increases ■■ Pay data reporting (SB 973) for larger employers ■■ California Family Rights Act affecting employers with 5 or more employees rather than 50 ■■ Additional safety regulations including provisions for COVID reporting. Previously we had stated that the beginning of a new year is a great time for business owners to review and consider financial performance against the previous year. The impact of the pandemic makes this comparison meaningless for some, but

for others it is still well worth the exercise. Generally, we would guide business owners to measure 2020 against past years. Your own circumstances will determine if this is the right approach. If you are looking to develop a budget for 2021, then using your financial accounts for 2019 may well be a more appropriate year to develop benchmarks against. Kevin Lowther Whichever year you use to set your budget and benchmarks, some guiding principles apply: if your business primarily sells products then focus on your gross margin; if your business is a service business then your operating margin is key. These are key ratios used to measure business performance, and ultimately this will impact the value of your business too. More importantly, by comparing margins over several years, you can evaluate the fluctuations and trends in profitability.

loans in 2020 to help shore up the nation’s small businesses during these dire times. President Biden’s continued focus on these efforts is heartening. Throughout 2020 and into this new year, the Small Business Development Center at Cal State Bakersfield, an extension of the U.S. Small Business Administration, has expanded its services – including offering free counseling, educational programs and webinars to help local entrepreneurs apply for available loans and adapt their operations to the harsh pandemic realities. A primary feature is the onehour “Webinar Wednesday” series, Managing Your Small Business through the pandemic, that began in March 2020. The free weekly webinars provide pandemic relief updates on available federal, state and local funding options, tax credit programs, employee programs and other opportunities for employers and business owners. Past webinars can be found on the CSUB SBDC YouTube channel. As the Biden administration rolls out additional programs,

SBDC free services will be critical to the success and survival of Kern County businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration may not have the largest budget in the federal government. But its influence and power are in its programs and services. The agency does much more than provide loan guarantees. It supports about 900 small-business development centers, counseling centers and networks for women, minorities and veteran entrepreneurs. These networks and centers are instrumental in getting small businesses back up and running. The Small Business Development Center at CSUB is one of five service centers within the University of California, Central California SBDC Regional Network. It assists small business owners in Kern, Inyo and Mono counties by providing free consulting, small business training and research. For more information, go to www. csubsbdc.com.

Kelly Bearden is the director of the Small Business Development Center at Cal State Bakersfield.

MANAGE OPERATING EXPENSES

KEEP A FINANCIAL DASHBOARD

The pandemic has caused many of us to evaluate what our general day-to-day spend is anyway. Operating expenses are associated with the general running of your business. Here are some areas to evaluate: ■■ Has your business gone more virtual? Are there fixed operating expenses associated with running a physical office that you no longer need? ■■ Review your ongoing (forgotten) expenses. Do you have the best cellular and internet plans for your business? It’s amazing how willing the big carriers are in continuing promotional discounts in order to retain your business. ■■ If you have found that your staff can work remotely, what other opportunities are there for remote workers? Can you improve the productivity of your staff? What additional training would benefit the overall output of your staff? ■■ Outsource functions: Can you outsource high cost non-core functions such as human resources, technology and finance? Could you use a lower cost state to remotely support your business? ■■ Technology has continued to improve. Robotic Process Automation is emerging as a powerful tool to automate repetitive tasks such as data entry.

Keeping a financial dashboard is one of the most efficient means of tracking performance of your business. However, there is an old computer programmer saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” Even when using accounting software, it’s important that you have a defined chart of accounts and that your bookkeeping and administrative staff clearly understand which expense is entered into each category. Your chart of accounts should reflect the type of business you are in: a small service company will survive on 10 to 12 categories. Larger businesses are likely to need more. Track your performance throughout 2021 against your previous year and budget targets. Ensure that you track the important metrics to your business whether it be sales growth, margins, employee turnover or customer satisfaction. The better your understanding of your profit drivers, the better you’ll be able to maximize the value of your most valuable investment: your business. Kevin Lowther, AM-ASA, ABV, FMVA is a partner with Bakersfield-based Central Pacific Valuation. He provides business valuation and financial analytics services.


Monday, February 15, 2021 Kern Business Journal

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Retail & commercial More jobs, new offerings, exciting amenities coming soon to Tejon

Kern Business Journal

Monday, February 15, 2021

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usinesses prove resilient at Tejon Ranch. Despite the many challenges the pandemic has posed, the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center and Outlets at Tejon continue to grow and thrive. As 2021 commences, the expansive outdoor shopping center is proving itself again to be an important hub for the county, as it brings several new and exciting operators to the southern end of Kern County. Even when the Becky Swiggum pandemic was at its worst, most of the Outlet’s retail vendors and restaurants have stayed open and are fully compliant with COVID-19 cleaning and sanitizing protocols. These include almost 30 drivethru and drive-up options – including five brands that opened in the Commerce Center the last half of 2020 (Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts, Charley’s, Jamba Juice and a second Taco Bell). According to the United States Census Bureau, 83.5 percent of U.S. businesses in the accommodation and food services sector experienced a negative impact from the pandemic. Even in light of those challenges, the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center and Outlets at Tejon have found a way to safely support businesses and shoppers and, in turn, the local economy. Tejon Ranch Company has worked aggressively to create new opportunities for proven companies, established brands and aspiring entrepreneurs alike. In 2021 the company is developing a number of new projects — a testament to the fact that there remain boundless opportunities for businesses in Kern County, even in these difficult months. One of those exciting developments is set to open this year at the Outlets at Tejon. Bird Dog Arts, a brand-new art experience modeled after the Art Hound Gallery in Essex, Vt., is scheduled for

its grand opening in the second quarter. More than a gallery, this 11,000-squarefoot art space will feature the work of more than 250 California artists and craftsmen with pieces from master artisans to new up-and-coming talent. The experience will continue for customers as Bird Dog plans to offer workshops that educate while encouraging creativity. “Plans include murals, on- and off-site classes, and receptions. With the backdrop of Tejon Ranch and the inspiring beauty of the surrounding areas, the options are limitless,” says David Gordon, COO at Bird Dog Arts and former executive director of The Arts Council of Kern County. In addition to the much-anticipated opening of Bird Dog Arts, the Outlets at Tejon will be ushering in the grand opening of Cinnabon (which includes the to-die-for Carvel soft ice cream) and an expansion of the popular Cotton On retail store — all before the beginning of summer. RV and camping supply store Camping World has also signed a new lease, soon to be occupying a location more than double the size of their Bakersfield store. This will be Camping World’s only California distribution center and will house everything that is sold in the Camping World retail stores. Additionally, the world’s largest furniture retailer, IKEA, actually expanded its operations with Tejon Ranch, despite and really as a result of the pandemic in the summer of 2020. But outlet offerings and increased employment via new industrial tenants to the Commerce Center are not the only way Tejon Ranch is positively impacting the region. Thanks to the recent approval by the Kern County Board of Supervisors of a 495-unit apartment complex that will be located immediately north of the Outlets, Tejon will be offering new housing opportunities for the thousands already working at the Outlets and Commerce Center as well as others in the south valley. All of the growth taking place at Tejon’s Outlets and Commerce Center continues

The Outlets at Tejon.

The Tejon Ranch Commerce Center.

to enhance Kern County’s reputation. Bakersfield’s new brand promise is “the sound of something better,” an homage to the famous Bakersfield Sound. The song being written at Tejon Ranch is certainly in tune with that promise as it continues

PHOTO COURTESY TEJON RANCH COMMERCE CENTER

PHOTO COURTESY TEJON RANCH COMMERCE CENTER

to offer bigger and better things for our community. Becky Swiggum is the director of marketing for the Outlets at Tejon and Tejon Ranch Commerce Center.


Retail & Commercial

Bakersfield hotels fare better than state, US averages during pandemic T

he pandemic of 2020 severely impacted the travel industry worldwide. But Bakersfield-area hotels have been weathering the storm better than those statewide or across the nation. Based upon an analysis conducted by Visit Bakersfield of two key performance indicators over the fourth quarter of 2020, those year-over-year measures for Bakersfield hotels have declined less than those at the state and national levels.

OCCUPANCY RATES

AVERAGE DAILY RATES Visit Bakersfield also analyzed a second KPI known as Average Daily Rate, or ADR. ADR is calculated by dividing a hotel’s room revenue by the room nights sold. Using the same YOY approach, Visit Bakersfield found that Bakersfield ADR was at or above last year’s levels for six different weeks during Q4, as shown in the second chart (available online). This contrasts significantly with state and national ADR, which did not approach last year’s levels (again, the dotted line) at any time during Q4. Both state and national ADR saw significant upticks in YOY ratios for Thanksgiving week, but then returned to previous levels before rising again toward the end of December, coinciding with increased demand by holiday travelers.

PHOTO COURTESY VISIT BAKERSFIELD

The new 125-room Residence Inn by Marriott opened in November 2020 at 8312 Espresso Drive in Bakersfield.

types of hotel properties so, intuitively, its declines would be less severe.

Why have Bakersfield hotels fared better than either the state or national markets in Q4 YOY occupancy rates and ADR? While supporting data are sparse, there are two possible explanations. First, feedback from travel experts suggests that the reduction in travel most heavily impacts luxury properties, resort communities and those that rely heavily upon conventions and business travel, including hotels around airports. At the other end, smaller communities and those along major transportation corridors were expected to be less affected, because products still need to get to market and some people still need to travel. Bakersfield would fit into the last category. Second, the state and national figures reflect all properties within their respective markets. Because state and national markets include luxury, resort and business-reliant hotels, those impacted properties logically would tend to weigh down state and national averages. The Bakersfield market does not have those

IMPACTS ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT In addition to providing hotels with key information about their respective properties, occupancy rate and ADR information helps local governments with their revenue projections. For example, the city of Bakersfield assesses a 12 percent “bed tax” on each room night sold within the city limits (Kern County charges 6 percent for hotels in the unincorporated areas). That bed tax revenue is determined by both the number of room nights sold and the rate that hotels sell those room nights. When the number of room nights sold swings up or down significantly, or when the rate charged for those rooms changes dramatically, bed tax estimates can be affected.

THE FUTURE Over the past few months, six Bakersfield hotel properties have closed for various reasons: the economy, conversions to long-term housing or rebranding. All told, 777 hotel rooms have been taken

out of inventory. On the other side of the ledger, one new hotel opened in November 2020: the 125-room Residence Inn by Marriott at 8312 Espresso Drive. In addition, the former Hotel Rosedale at 2400 Camino Del Rio Court is undergoing rebranding and is expected to reopen as an Hourglass Hotel, returning another 165 rooms to Bakersfield’s hotel room inventory. In recent years, plans for four new hotel properties have been submitted to city staff. Together, those planned projects represent 405 potential new rooms. According to City Planning, as of mid-January 2021, no progress on any of the four proposed projects has been made by their respective developers. David Lyman, Ph.D., is manager of Visit Bakersfield. He frequently monitors, compiles and analyzes various data about the local economy. He and his crew help visitors from throughout the world spend their money and find The Sound of Something Better in California’s ninth largest city. They are available toll-free (866) 4257353 or at Info@VisitBakersfield.com.

Kern Business Journal

BAKERSFIELD, STATE AND NATIONAL FIGURES

Monday, February 15, 2021

A hotel’s occupancy rate is calculated as the number of hotel room nights sold divided by the number of hotel room nights available. It is a key performance indicator, or KPI, that reflects how well local hotel rooms are being filled. This year-over-year, or YOY, analysis looks at how occupancy rates in Q4 compare with the same period last David Lyman year. As shown in the first chart (available online), the dotted line represents Q4 occupancy rates in 2019. The three solid lines show how “underwater” hotels were in Bakersfield, statewide and nationally, respectively, compared with the preceding year shown as the dotted line. For most of Q4, occupancy levels for Bakersfield hotels were less underwater than those at the state or national levels. It was only at the end of the quarter in mid-December that both Bakersfield and California YOY figures dropped significantly: Bakersfield’s occupancy rate declined about 37 percent YOY while the same measure statewide dipped 46 percent below 2019 levels. These declines in YOY occupancy levels coincided with the state’s new stay-athome order. About that same time, national occupancy levels began to climb significantly; that uptick may reflect the increase in holiday travel that occurred nationwide. Data from Q1 of the new year will help clarify whether the rise in national YOY occupancy levels was tied to holiday travel

or represented the start of industrywide improvements. Next quarter’s data also should shed light on whether the mid-December declines at the local and state levels were a reflection of California’s stay-athome order, presuming that order is lifted before the end of Q1.

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agriculture

Water Association of Kern County commemorates Kern’s water legacy

W

Kern Business Journal

Monday, February 15, 2021

ater is an essential part of our livelihoods and economy. Water is not just a valuable tool to grow the world’s food, or a resource in aiding the valuable oil industry, and it is not just an element to keep our yards and cities looking their finest. Water has become an expected resource when we turn on our faucets to do our dishes, run a load of laundry, take a shower or brush our Jenny Holtermann teeth. Just as diverse as our uses of water around Kern County, the Water Association of Kern County has a wide array of members. The Water Association of Kern County represents municipalities, oil industry, agriculture businesses and water districts alike. All these various members of our organization are all dependent on water the same. We all need water to thrive and prosper. The Water Association of Kern County

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was established to communicate the various water needs and educate on water issues. Over the years, the needs and issues have changed but the water users and driving force remains the same. Municipalities, landowners, oil industry, farmers and water districts come together under one unifying voice to further educate on our water needs. As we have heard a time or two, before we can look to the future, it is important to understand our past. As the new executive director to WAKC, I will bring forth new ideas and campaigns to advance our water education and outreach efforts, but first I needed to embrace our history. Kern County is unique in so many ways; from the Bakersfield Sound, to the legacy of Basque restaurants, the candy chews that everyone loves, or the hiking trails that surround our county. Kern County’s water is no different. The history of the Kern River is a legacy worth being told. When Native Americans settled in Kern County, they utilized the Kern River for its valuable resource to keep their people nour-

ished. As more residents began to settle in Kern County, the river became more evident as a true lifeblood to progress. The Kern River was a beacon of future and opportunity to expand our area like never seen before. As farmers and landowners established businesses and an agriculture industry, the river brought forward a chance to grow food not just for our county but for a reach well beyond. Canals, reservoirs and banking projects would come over the years to capture, divert and store water for times when it was not as plentiful. As more water was being delivered to Kern County through the State Water Project and Central Valley Project, our water issues grew and the need for education expanded. The path that brought us here today, is a unique and captivating story. To end the year, WAKC commemorated our legacy with a History of Water Campaign. We debuted a mural on North Chester Avenue and El Tejon Avenue to celebrate the heritage of Kern County water with historic images of our water landscape. The same images accompanied a video that is

now available on Water Association of Kern County’s YouTube on the History of Water in Kern County. We plan to expand this campaign to honor our past and look to our future. In 2021, our goal is to continue to expand our water education, outreach, and informational campaigns. We know that water is essential for putting food on the table, and you can bank on the fact that the Water Association of Kern County will continue to advocate on water issues in our community. Jenny Holtermann is the executive director of the Water Association of Kern County. WAKC’s mission is to inform and educate the public and water community about water issues in Kern County. As a fourth generation farmer herself, who farms almonds with her husband and family in Wasco and Shafter, Jenny understands water issues first hand. Jenny has a passion for her community and giving back through the numerous local, state and national boards she serves on as an advocate for agriculture and water.


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Kern Business Journal

Have you allowed yourself to grieve yet? If you lost your business, job, home or a loved one because of this wretched pandemic, I certainly hope you have. If you didn’t lose any of those things, you might think you have no right to grieve or have nothing to grieve about. Not true. Regardless of what’s happened to you over the last year, you’ve experienced a loss that’s worthy of grief – we all have. If you’re like me, you’ve done the opposite of grieving – you’ve engaged in toxic positivity. In his article, “Trying to Stay Optimistic Is Doing More Harm Than Good,” Mark Ellwood says toxic positivity is “expressed as an overbearing cheerfulness no matter how bad things are” and “responds to all human anxiety, or sadness, with uncompromising optimism.” If you frequently respond to other people’s complaints with comebacks that begin with the words “at least,” you might be guilty of toxic positivity. For example, if someone complains about not being able to get a haircut and your response is “at least you have hair,” then I might be talking about you. Looking on the bright side of life is not a bad thing, but not allowing others to express their pain is. Not allowing yourself to experience or express pain is also not good. On the website whatsyourgrief.com, Eleanor Haley states, “While one is busy trying to avoid and control their grief, their world gets smaller and more complicated. Fear of grief related thoughts and emotions can start to limit the ways in which a griever is able to fill their roles as a spouse, parent, friend, employee and society member and impacts their overall ability to be the person they want to be.” Prince Harry is a perfect example of what happens to people when they don’t allow themselves to grieve. In numerous interviews in 2017, Harry revealed he had shut down his emotions after his mother Princess Diana died and sought counseling almost 20 years later after “years of total chaos.” In an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Harry said, “I started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.” While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, numerous resources say the pro-

yourself to feel it — no numbing it with alcohol or drugs or trying to stifle your tears ■■ Accepting that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions — no judging your thoughts and feelings ■■ Understanding that your grieving process will be unique to you — no comparing yourself or your experience with others ■■ Seeking out face-to-face support from people who care about you (while following current safety guidelines). In her article, “Speaking of grief: Tips for grievers, friends and family on talking about loss,” Jenna Baddeley provides the following tips when talking to others about your grief: don’t rehash the same negative story again and again; be sensitive to listeners’ needs; ask for what you need; appreciate your listeners; choose your audience; and seek help from therapists and support groups if necessary ■■ Supporting yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically – exercising, eating well, sleeping, bathing

■■ Engaging in activities you enjoy – no feeling guilty because of doing something you love ■■ Recognizing the difference between grief and depression — seeking professional help if appropriate. If you’re an employer or supervisor, I encourage you to allow your employees to talk about their grief, especially when it’s safe to return to the workplace. You can get the conversation started by asking: ■■ What was the worst thing about the pandemic for you? ■■ What was the best thing about it? ■■ What did you learn? ■■ How will you apply what you learned? (As the saying goes, never let a crisis go to waste.) Just getting back to business as usual without acknowledging what we’ve all been through will probably be tempting, but it will also probably be a mistake. Talking about our experience will help us put it in the past and focus on the future.

Monday, February 15, 2021

few years ago, I arrived at a client’s facility prepared to conduct another workshop for its supervisors. The HR manager pulled me into her office and told me the director of the supervisors had been terminated that morning and they’d just been informed he was no longer with the company. She asked me how I wanted to handle the situation – should we cancel the workshop, go ahead with the training and Robin Paggi ignore the issue, or invite the supervisors to talk about what had just happened? I chose the last option. We didn’t discuss the termination itself (that would have been inappropriate); however, we did talk about the director’s contribution to the company and some supervisors spoke about what he meant to them personally. It felt a bit like a funeral, which was exactly what I intended. Some of the supervisors were probably glad their director was no longer there, and some no doubt didn’t care one way or the other. However, I know that some of them were shocked and genuinely saddened by the director’s departure, and they needed the time and permission to grieve their loss. Losing someone or something important to us automatically causes the emotional reaction we call grief. It might sound silly to experience grief over a co-worker leaving the company, but any kind of meaningful loss can trigger it. Unfortunately, the emotions grief causes us to feel are often unpleasant. In addition to sadness, people often feel angry, scared, guilty, lethargic, lonely, numb, achy and nauseous. Although most people don’t want to feel any of those things, grieving is a necessary first step to move forward from a loss. I like the way the University of Washington Counseling Center website explains the importance of grieving: “…it allows us to ‘free-up’ energy that is bound to the lost person, object, or experience—so that we might re-invest that energy elsewhere… Healthy grieving results in an ability to remember the importance of our loss— but with a newfound sense of peace, rather than searing pain.”

cess should include:

■■ Acknowledging the pain and allowing

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Kern Business Journal

Monday, February 15, 2021

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Lucy Trancoso L T

Senior Business Banking Officer 4530 Ming Avenue I Phone: (661) 833-7415 Email: lucy.trancoso@valleystrong.com


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