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KEDC receives grant for second year in a row based on stellar track record

By computer forensics

For about three years, a diesel engine company in Bakersfield was a member of Kern Economic Development Corporation — but now it is a direct beneficiary.

The company, Central California Power, is one of nine small to medium-sized businesses in Kern County that added a total of 26 employees thanks, in part, to business consulting from the KEDC.

And that record earned the KEDC a second straight grant of $80,000 from the U.S. Department of Agricultural Rural Development to boost business in the county.

“It is uncommon to receive back-to-back grant awards,” said Paul

Venosdel, state director of the rural development agency, at a news conference Friday. “But the strength and quality of the KEDC work justified it.”

The agency had $4 million in requests, but only $500,000 to give in the state, Venosdel said. Kern County got a little attention because President Bush highlighted rural development in a Bakersfield speech last March at Rain for Rent, Venosdel said.

The new grant is intended to help nine to 12 other businesses join the program later this year, KEDC Business Developer Bill Jeffries said.

Those businesses will be selected from applications, which are available from the agency’s Web site,

They will be accepted through Aug. 26. Information is available by calling 862-5157. The program is known as Tomatoes on Steroids.

Friday’s news conference was held in front of Central California Power, 6615 Rosedale Highway, where its president, Rod Headley, credited Jeffries with helping line up new business opportunities.

Headley said Jeffries, during nearly weekly contacts, helped him with financing options and finding customers.

That helped increase Central California Power staff by three positions in the last fiscal year and the company is looking to boost the staff by an additional five to 15 positions this fiscal year, Headley said.

The 23-year-old firm, formerly Central California Diesel, provides sales and service for generators, sales of industrial engines and the engine generating components of dairy digesters.

It is the last aspect — helping dairies reduce pollution and costs, and produce electric power — which offers a new potential for expansion this year, Headley said.

The firm is also in the midst of replacing 250 to 300 old diesel engines with cleaner models — about $5 million worth of sales — that can reduce 500 to 600 tons of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter pollution, he said.

A new engine can save 75 percent to 84 percent of such emissions, the company reported.

Jeffries said one of the contributions he made to the firm was providing information about an offset pollution control program through the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Another success story was helping Advanced Micro Research of Delano position itself to double its four-person staff this year, related the firm’s Chief Executive Officer Alphonso Rivera.

“Their support has been phenomenal in both marketing and contacts,” Rivera said.

KEDC was largely responsible for helping the 3-year-old firm secure a contract with the city of McFarland to help maintain and build its computer-information systems, Rivera said.

The company is looking to expand with similar work for private companies, he said.

The other businesses selected for help with the first grant were The Apple Shed Inc., Tehachapi; Bennett Optical Research Inc. and TomatoMan, Ridgecrest; XCOR Aerospace Inc. Mojave; Carney’s Business Technology Center, Oasis Air Conditioning, and Terrio Therapy-Fitness Inc., all of Bakersfield.

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