En­tre­pre­neur aims to help oth­ers

Cum­mings shares acu­men with cham­ber

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By AL­LI­SON GATLIN Val­ley Press Staff Writer

MOJAVE — En­tre­pre­neur Nikki Cum­mings has led suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies over the years. Now she is tak­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence and work­ing to help oth­ers be suc­cess­ful and in turn, help the com­mu­nity to thrive.

Cum­mings shared her vi­sion with the Mojave Cham­ber of Com­merce on Thurs­day, pro­vid­ing ex­am­ples of ef­forts of bring­ing lo­cal busi­nesses to­gether in Te­hachapi that may in­spire the Mojave com­mu­nity.

Cum­mings and her hus­band Buddy moved to Te­hachapi with their re­new­able en­ergy com­pany, World Wind and So­lar. They had started the firm in San Diego in 2007 and trav­eled all over the coun­try build­ing wind and so­lar power plants be­fore set­tling near Te­hachapi, where Buddy’s fam­ily has lived since 1854 and where

Nikki also grew up.

“It was the best de­ci­sion we ever made,” she said.

The com­pany grew to be the largest em­ployer in the greater Te­hachapi area, with more than 500 em­ploy­ees, she said.

The cou­ple de­cided to re­tire from their en­ergy firm last year, mov­ing on to new chal­lenges.

“Now we are re­ally fo­cused on our com­mu­nity,”

Cum­mings said.

That fo­cus on com­mu­nity is fit­ting for a fam­ily with deep roots in the area. While the Cum­mings were among the orig­i­nal set­tlers in the area and have op­er­ated a cat­tle ranch for gen­er­a­tions, Nikki’s fam­ily mem­bers are rel­a­tive new­com­ers — since 1970 — who pre­vi­ously pub­lished the Te­hachapi News for 30 years.

“I have ink in my blood,” Cum­mings said, which she has trans­lated to­day into work­ing with so­cial me­dia and mar­ket­ing.

Rais­ing three chil­dren rang­ing in age from two to 11 years old, the Cum­mings feel it is im­por­tant to teach them about serv­ing their com­mu­nity.

“They’re see­ing us serve and they’re un­der­stand­ing that it’s im­por­tant to give back,” she said.

Some of that has come in the form of Cum­mings’ work in Te­hachapi’s Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Coun­cil, a group of busi­ness own­ers and res­i­dents who are pas­sion­ate and proud of their com­mu­nity.

“It was an amaz­ing group

of peo­ple, and I feel like this Cham­ber is that for Mojave,” she said.

That pas­sion and pride is their own best ad­ver­tis­ing, espe­cially through so­cial me­dia cam­paigns, she said.

Work­ing to­gether, cham­pi­oning each other through shared mar­ket­ing ef­forts and brand­ing can make a dif­fer­ence across the board.

“There’s so much lo­cal busi­ness can do to rally to­gether to lift each other up,” she said.

It comes down to the idea of “bloom where you are planted,” Cum­mings said, em­brac­ing your com­mu­nity and what you can do to im­prove it.

In her own story, Cum­mings could not wait to leave her small town when she fin­ished high school, head­ing off to col­lege in San Diego.

“I could not get out of town fast enough. I went to the big­gest city near­est the beach with the warm­est weather,” she said.

From there, she moved to Hawaii to work for the sixth-largest news­pa­per in the coun­try.

“I wanted to see what the world had to of­fer, I wanted to spread my wings and I thought I was way too big for Te­hachapi,” Cum­mings said. “Fast for­ward 20 years later, and I am liv­ing my best life in East Kern and I love it.”

Cum­mings’ lat­est project is ren­o­vat­ing an old build­ing in down­town Te­hachapi that once held a mar­ket to of­fer workspace for in­di­vid­u­als and small com­pa­nies, who need some type of of­fice space at least spo­rad­i­cally, but do not want or need the over­head of a full, long-term of­fice lease.

The Vil­lage Col­lec­tive on Green Street will is en­vi­sioned as a in­no­va­tive, sup­port­ive com­mu­nity for var­ied small busi­nesses.

In ad­di­tion to space, plans call for of­fer­ing classes and other ser­vices to help busi­nesses suc­ceed.

AL­LI­SON GATLIN/VAL­LEY PRESS

En­tre­pre­neur Nikki Cum­mings speaks to the Mojave Cham­ber of Com­merce about how lo­cal busi­nesses can band to­gether to help the com­mu­nity as a whole.

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