City braces for rebuild

Influx of contractors, visitors, funding expected to bring us positive economic impact

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

City braces for rebuildAs Navy officials roll out plans to spend some $3 billion on an effort to provide earthquake recovery and modernization of China Lake, the city of Ridgecrest is partnering to provide the necessary support that will be required in our remote community.

City Manager Ron Strand gave an update to members of the Ridgecrest Exchange Club Wednesday that summarized which industries would be most impacted during the rebuild, and how businesses can gain insight on how to posture for the coming opportunity.

During the last week of February, the city partnered with Naval Facilities Command out of San Diego to host “Industry Day.” Some 600 attendees — most of which were contractors — were briefed on the bidding process and how to get in touch with the local service providers in hospitality, lodging, commercial space, materials and labor.

The first requests for proposals are expected to roll out in April, said Strand, with major projects breaking ground as early as November.

He noted that the Navy is planning to have a man camp that can provide secure, temporary housing and food for some of the 1,500 to 3,000 visitors anticipated over the next 3-5 years.

So far the Navy has identified properties outside the fenceline in Kern and San Bernardino counties that could house the camps.

Demographic details of those visitors are largely unknown, but temporary workers are also expected to fill up available hotels and rental properties.

Dan Spurgeon of SpringHill Inn and Suites said that even a 10-percent uptick in hotel room rentals would constitute an additional $25,000 per month in transient occupancy taxes to the city.

That figure is dwarfed by the disposable income that will flow through in indirect dollars.

“I believe our hotels, our restaurants, our gas stations and Super Walmart will do very well,” said Strand.

Strand noted that although the city and other partnering agencies are doing their best to be prepared, many details of who is coming, and what they need, will not be available until contracts are awarded.

He also recommended that local businesses looking to posture themselves to capture economic opportunity work with Buxton, a consultant recently contracted by the city and Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce to provide consumer analytics. (Watch future editions for more detailed reporting.)

Pictured: City Manager Ron Strand gives overview of upcoming recovery project. — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-03-13