Businesses 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 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 drive-thru 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 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 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.