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Retail and commercial trade helps local economy

Construction is under way for a new building near State Route 178 and Alfred Harrell Highway in Bakersfield, Calif., on Monday, May 7, 2018. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Oil and agriculture have kept Bakersfield moving for decades, but now another industry is helping the economy: retail and commercial trade.

If you drive through town, you'll see shopping centers opening and advertisements for new restaurants.

"Realtors come in and say, 'Gosh, there's an opportunity here,'" said Vincent Roche, a retail expert and senior director for Cushman and Wakefield.

He says there are many reasons why developers choose to invest in Bakersfield.

One reason is because Bakersfield's population is on the rise, creating more opportunities for growth.

Bakersfield is also located in the middle of California, and homes there are reasonably priced.

Another reason, is there are already projects around town creating their own momentum.

"Whoever it is, comes to town and they see that progressive commitment to quality of life, to doing things that make the community better, people buy in," said Roche.

The Bakersfield Commons project at the corner of Coffee and Brimhall is close to being built. Phase I will feature a large retail center on 23 acres of land.

The East Hills Mall will be demolished and turned into The City Lights Shopping Center. Phase I will have entertainment, restaurants, specialty retail and grocery.

The initial phases for both these projects are expected to be finished by 2020.

In the southwest, the Bakersfield Gateway development will be opening with a Bass Pro Shops, as well as other lifestyle amenities. It's off the northeast corner at the interchange at Highway 99 and Hosking Avenue. The location is expected to bring hundreds of jobs. Groundbreaking is scheduled for late this year or early next year, and it will take about a year to complete.

Meanwhile, it the northeast, a smaller development is underway. The lot is located off of State Route 178 and Alfred Harrell Highway. Phase I will have a Countryside Market, Shell gas station and Taco Bell. Phase II will add lifestyle shops and possibly a grocery store.

Right now, people who live in this area have to drive farther to get what they need.

All these developments are bringing jobs to Bakersfield. In 2017, almost 10 percent of jobs were tied to retail trade, with more than 30,000 workers employed.

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