2017 Economic Summit

The Kern County Economic Summit is an annual program featuring economists and business leaders who provide valuable information designed to educate and broaden perspectives on international, national, and regional economies.

Thank you to all who attended, and to our speakers!

Photos Available Here!

2018 Summit Speakers


Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Classics & Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Dr. Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007, the Bradley Prize in 2008, as well as the William F. Buckley Prize (2015), the Claremont Institute’s Statesmanship Award (2006), and the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002). Hanson was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages programs.

Dr. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal.

Local Economic Conditions and Trends

Richard Gearhart
Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics, California State University, Bakersfield

Richard Gearhart joined CSUB in August of 2014, coming from Clemson University in South Carolina, where he earned both his Master’s degree and his Ph.D. in Economics. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Economics and is the Managing Editor of the Kern Economic Journal, a publication that tracks and analyzes local economic trends and data.
Richard is an expert on Health Economics, Labor Economics, Regional Economics, and Public Sector Economics, analyzing the efficiency and productivity of healthcare delivery systems at the individual, local, and regional levels. He has published peer-reviewed articles examining both county and state level healthcare efficiency, as well as focusing on limitations of looking across countries to model healthcare systems. He has focused on analyzing health outcome trends in Kern County. Richard also has written articles on the impact of oil prices on employment in various sectors in Kern County, such as manufacturing, farming, and service-oriented, as well as the health impacts of rapidly fluctuating oil prices, with Dr. Nyakundi Michieka. His research appears in Journal of Applied Economics, Health Economics Review, Energy Policy, and Health Systems.

View PowerPoint Presentation Here

Local Economic Conditions and Trends

Nyakundi Michieka
Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics, California State University, Bakersfield

Nyakundi Michieka joined California State University, Bakersfield in September, 2014 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics. Dr. Michieka hails from Kenya and received his Ph.D. in Natural Resource and Environmental Economics from West Virginia University. His primary research involves energy, environmental economics, regional economics and food security. Michieka’s doctoral dissertation at West Virginia analyzed and forecasted the regional distribution of coal use in China.
In addition to a book chapter and various conference presentations, Nyakundi has five peer-reviewed publications appearing in The Applied Energy Journal, Energy Policy Journal, The Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy and The Journal of Food Distribution and Research. He currently is writing several working papers.

View PowerPoint Presentation Here

A Warning From the Trenches

Jeremy Adams, Civics Educator & Author

Jeremy S. Adams is a graduate of California State University, Bakersfield and Washington & Lee University. He teaches Political Science at Bakersfield High School as well as at his alma mater CSU Bakersfield. He has two national books on teaching, Full Classrooms, Empty Selves (2012) and just recently had his second book, The Secrets of Timeless Teachers (2016), published by Rowman & Littlefield. He is the recipient of numerous teaching and writing honors including the 2014 California Teacher of the Year Award (Daughters of the American Revolution), was named the 2012 Kern County Teacher of the Year, was a semi-finalist in 2013 for the California Department of Education’s Teachers of the Year Program, and was a finalist in 2014 for the prestigious Carlston Family Foundation National Teacher Award. The California State Senate recently sponsored a resolution in recognition of his achievements in education.

Development Successes and Affordability Challenges: A Kern County Real Estate Update

Derek Sprague, Vice-President and Broker of Sprague Real Estate Group, Inc and Mossy Oak Properties California Farm & Ranch

Derek Sprague is Vice-President and Broker of Sprague Real Estate Group, Inc and Mossy Oak Properties California Farm & Ranch. His focus is on the sales and leasing of real property investments across California’s Central Valley. Derek has represented small businesses and national firms in successful transactions of a variety of property types for over a decade. In addition, he manages commercial real estate portfolio’s totaling over 70,000 square feet of office, medical, and industrial space. Derek has advanced his passion for real estate by representing the industry on boards and committees at a local, state, and national level, and will serve as the 2018 President of the Bakersfield Association of REALTORS. Derek received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from California State University of Bakersfield (CSUB), with a Marketing concentration, and holds his license as a California Real Estate Broker.

View PowerPoint Presentation Here

The Next Election: US Yields and USD Higher

John Shin, Senior G10 FX Strategist, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research

John Shin joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a senior G10 FX strategist, based in New York. He is responsible for the flagship monthly publication, World At A Glance. Previously, Shin was both a G10 FX strategist and a U.S. economist at Lehman Brothers. He was also a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and worked in the Macroeconomic and Quantitative Studies section of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C.  Shin holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard University, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. He holds a B.A. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated with high honors.

Roger S. Hayes, Founder, President and CEO of Sierra Technical Services, Inc. (STS)

Mr. Hayes has been involved in the Design, Development, Manufacturing and Testing of advanced military aircraft for nearly 40 years.
Mr. Hayes is currently the founder, President and CEO of Sierra Technical Services, Inc. (STS) located at the Tehachapi Airport in Tehachapi, CA. STS is currently designing and building a full-size, fighter style unmanned aircraft for the US Department of Defense. STS is under contract to complete the design, manufacturing and testing of the 5th Generation Aerial Target (5GAT) for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Director of Operational Test & Evaluation (OSD/DOT&E). The 5GAT aircraft is 40 foot long, with a 24 foot wing span, and is an unmanned aerial target with two afterburning jet engines. The estimated Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight is around 12,000 lbs. Mr. Hayes received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University in 1982 (now Kennesaw State University). Mr. Hayes is a veteran of the US Air Force and Georgia Air National Guard. While in the USAF, Mr. Hayes served as an Explosive Ordnance Demolition (EOD) Technician.

Matthew Johnston, President, California Aeronautical University

Mr. Matthew A. Johnston has over 23 years of experience serving in education. In his most recent years Mr. Johnston has focused his experience and interest in aviation to develop California Aeronautical University. With its 22-acre purpose built aviation campus located on the Bakersfield Meadows Field airport and satellite location located at the Oxnard airport in Ventura county, it prides itself as having the west coast’s premiere aviation training facilities and flight training environments. The University offers bachelor degree focused programs for students seeking to earn their degree to pursue careers in aviation both on the ground and in the air. Mr. Johnston has earned the University FAA Part 141 approvals for private, instrument, commercial, CFI, and CFII including additional approvals allowing Bachelor Degree in Aeronautics graduates to have eligibility to obtain a restricted ATP at the reduced hours of 1000 rather than the otherwise required 1500-hour minimum for non-degree, non-university level trained pilots.

Scott M. O’Neil, Executive Director, Indian Wells Valley Economic Development Corporation

Mr. Scott O’Neil is currently the Executive Director of the Indian Wells Valley Economic Development Corporation. He retired from U.S. Government civilian service January 2016 after working for the Navy for 43 years. For the decade prior to his retirement Mr. O’Neil served as Executive Director and Director for Research and Engineering of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) at China Lake, California. The Center is responsible for research, development, acquisition support, test, evaluation, and in-service engineering for naval weapon systems. As Executive Director, Mr. O’Neil directed a highly technical civilian workforce of about 5200 employees. Mr. O’Neil received his Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering (BME) from Seattle University in 1972 and received his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1977. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) selected Mr. O’Neil as an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and he received his Masters in Management from MIT in 1992.

Don McEachern, President/CEO, North Star Destination Strategies

Visionary leader, big idea guy, community branding guru, strategic wizard – for 30 years Don McEachern has worked in big global agencies as well as tiny creative shops for famous clients like Gold Kist, Hawaiian Tropic and Trump Plaza. Along the way he has won prestigious awards including the Effie and Clio. But his proudest achievement is the creation of North Star, a company into which he has poured his passion, integrity, strategic acumen, creativity and quite a bit of his heart. What started as a dream has ultimately helped more than 190 communities in 43 states.  Whether as big as the state of Florida or as tiny as little Lake Bluff, Illinois, each client always gets his undivided attention.


Event Sponsors:



Chevron logo




Bakersfield College

Bakersfield Family Medical Center

CSUB School of Business & Public Administration


Tejon Ranch

Valley Children’s Healthcare


Aera Energy LLC

California Resources Corporation

CSU Bakersfield

Grimmway Farms

Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

Tejon Indian Tribe

Wonderful Real Estate Development