By Mario Conde
Supervisors heard Tuesday the option given to the JPA County Enterprise Zone about applying for a new valley-wide Enterprise Zone designation as recommended by the State Chairman of the Enterprise Zones in a recent visit to the County. If this plan moves forward, this new designation would cover the current Enterprise Zones in Calexico and Brawley and at the same time expand the zone to cover most, if not all cities including Heber and other unincorporated areas.
The Calexico and Brawley City Councils will discuss the Enterprise Zone issue at their respective meetings next week. The new EZ application will involved all cities that will combine to get the approval of the State. The County of Imperial and the City of Calexico started their Enterprise Zone partnership in 2006.
Jurg Heuberger spoke to the board and said that if a business wants to establish themselves in the Imperial Valley it should not be limited to two options. The County and IID both currently pay $60,000 per Zone for an aggregate of $120,000 per year.
The State will open its application period for EZ next week and will end in August. Supervisor Mike Kelley said the Valley is in need of good incentives to bring new investment. He suggested not taking action on this item until they get the input from the municipalities.
Chairman Louis Fuentes said that enterprise zones have become an excellent tool for business retention and said that he supports the expansion of the enterprise zone.
Imperial City Manager Marlene Best said that this issue in the interest of the City of Imperial since the City and the airport could benefit from the EZ incentives. She announced that the Imperial RDA is ready to do some funding on the airport and make some improvements.
Supervisor Gary Wyatt said that is something is good for the valley then is good for everyone.
The board made a motion to give direction to staff to move forward with this project and will be discussing it at their next meeting on Tuesday, February 23rd.