BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Bakersfield’s annual State of the City address returned in person for the first time in three years.

On Wednesday, city officials and the Greater Bakersfield Chamber focused on progress made against some of Bakersfield’s most challenging problems and what comes next. 

Mayor Karen Goh shared optimism for Bakersfield during a turbulent year. She says homelessness is one of the most pressing issues facing our community.

“I’m grateful that with our community partners, we’ve doubled the number of shelter beds,” Mayor Karen Goh, said. “For the first time in recent memory, the number of individuals inside a shelter outnumbered those on the streets.”

Goh also highlighted local economic growth in the face of rampant inflation and supply chain headaches.

“Bakersfield experienced robust job growth of almost five percent over the past year,” Goh, said. “Our unemployment has fallen to historic lows. The art, entertainment and recreation sector is expected to triple. Triple the rate, in the next five years.”

City manager Christian Clegg dove into the nuts and bolts behind the city’s annual budget.

“Despite fears of the potential future, our revenue remains very strong,” Clegg, said. “Our budget was last year was $683 million. This year is $735 million.”

Clegg says, the city is putting more money towards public safety, taking a bite out of violent crime.

“We have 83 more patrol officers today than we did in 2018,” Clegg, said. “In addition, because we’ve focused on targeted best practice programs around gun violence, we’ve seen a 30% reduction this year in gang-related violence and homicides.”

Goh announced a renewable energy infrastructure company called SineWatts is moving from North Carolina to Kern County. The company plans to move its headquarters here, a manufacturing tech in Bakersfield within the next five to ten years.