Could Bakersfield be the new tech center of the central valley?

Photo of Lauren Be

A recent article in Trulia named Bakersfield the 4th ranked market in the nation to keep eye on in 2019 by taking into account several key metrics, including job growth. Scott has a similar opinion regarding the technology industry in Bakersfield and explains 3 basic necessities that are conducive for a home run company. Read why he thinks Bakersfield will soon have all three in technology, making our town the next tech center of the Central Valley.

Scott Burton • Mesh CoWork

About 5 years ago, I worked for an incredible software company that was based here in Bakersfield. I got to drive to an office instead of walking my usual 10 steps to my home office. The work environment was great at said company—all the software developers were under one roof, geeking out on similar projects and development. The company even brought in lunch twice a week for all of its employees—an encouragement to us to get out from behind our computer screens and collaborate over Sequoia sandwiches and potato chips.

Then it happened. We felt a subtle shift which eventually lead the owner to move the company headquarters to Austin, Texas. “Wanna move to Austin?” Not really. “Wanna work remotely from home?” But I just got used to working in an office again. Slowly but surely most of us developers moved on to work for other software companies, and most of us now, once again, work remotely from our home office. (Unless, of course, we work out of Mesh.)

This formerly local technology company had amazing things going for it, and one was the dynamic amount of talent that made up its software development department. When I see my friends and former co-workers now working for big, innovative companies, it confirms what I already knew. We have tech geniuses with exceptional abilities residing in the crevices and nooks of our city. It would behoove our town to utilize them to their greatest potential right here.

We need a “home-run” tech company to start up and take off here--not start up and take off somewhere else. We need a company that will foster the great minds of Bakersfield and attract others from all over the state and country.

We need a tech company that will invest in the young minds that are rising up. There would be no need for them to leave Bakersfield to pursue great work in technology. Most colleges across the nation teach basic fundamentals of computer science and software development—an education they could most certainly get at Bakersfield College or CSUB. The “home-run” tech company I’m describing would have the workforce necessary to provide hands-on training for the next generation. Investing in technology students with boot camps and workshops is just one of the many ways it could foster the perpetual cycle of excellence in our community.

We only need one. Just one company to make it happen. That one company could show a dozen more what is possible and inspire other genius minds to create something instead of waiting for someone else to start it.

What will it take for that to happen? There are three components that are crucial for any company to take off and be a success.

The first is obviously a proven software or technology to develop the desired company. Come to a TechStars Startup Weekend and I’ll show you 20 different ideas that will knock your socks off.  

Second, a company needs funding. We need the investors that believe Bakersfield can be the next Silicon Valley and can put their money where their mouths are. They are already here. Angel investors like the Kern Venture Group are excited to invest in the next great idea.

And third, we need the talent to execute. I know Bakersfield has that talent because I’ve worked with them first-hand, but we will need more, a lot more. The hopeful piece of this puzzle is that talented individuals will come by the boatloads, especially if Bakersfield becomes a stop on the High-Speed Rail.

Bakersfield already has a few integral characteristics that add to its appeal. One is our proximity between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We are sandwiched in between two of the most robust, technologically advanced places in the United States. The High-Speed Rail will connect these cities in such a way that the distance will seem shorter and shorter. If a stop on the High-Speed Rail is directly in our downtown, think of what that would mean for those who work in Northern and Southern California. They will want to move out of the cities that have the highest national average cost of living and move to a place that has a one of the lowest in the state--especially convenient if work is just a hop, skip and jump away on the High-Speed Rail.

The effects of a downtown stop is just one projection. There are other ways for tech professionals to come to Bakersfield, though the High-Speed Rail will certainly accelerate the process. However, suppose the High-Speed Rail doesn’t stop in our neck of the woods. It could, and will, all come to pass. It’ll take more time, but the opportunity is still there.

Once these tech professionals start laying down roots in our backyard, it won’t be long before the secret is out about how awesome Bakersfield is and all the potential that it has. People will settle here, the next generation won’t want to leave, and those who have left will eagerly return. The tech brains will be here, and they will no longer be tucked away in a home office.

The momentum of innovative ideas will grow exponentially, followed by the funding. Just think of the possibilities.

Be INNOVATIVE in Bakersfield.

Connect with Scott: @meshcowork

Read Trulia’s article: So Long Silicon Valley, Hello Heartland.

Read how Scott was lead to a creative solution for remote-working professionals in his first story here.

Click here to watch Scott’s story first hand.