Mexicali Means Money, Study Says
By Mario Conde
A recently completed border economic impact study will help Imperial County understand the shopping habits of Mexicali residents.
The Imperial County Community and Economic Development department received the first draft of a border economic impact study funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA’s intent was to quantify the impact and benefits of northbound border commuters who reside in Mexicali on Imperial County’s retail and workforce, and to assist in positioning Imperial County as a prime investment location.
The county hired Michael Baker International and Crossborder Group to administer a travel behavior survey of cross-border travelers from the City of Mexicali to Imperial Valley. Members of the Imperial County Overall Economic Development Commission (OEDC) met on Feb. 1 to discuss the Border Impact Study report that was recently completed.
Community and Economic Development Director Esperanza Colio-Warren said that there has always been a speculation about the economic border impact on Imperial County but there has never been an actual report.
“The purpose of this subject is to know why people from Mexicali come to Imperial Valley and what are they coming for and their shopping behavior, so we can know about the economic impact.” Colio-Warren said. “Some investors may not be interested to invest in Imperial Valley if we tell them that we only have 180,000 in population. This report will demonstrate the economic impact we receive form Mexicali’s resident and their shopping behavior.”
The survey was done in December 2016 when the peso went up from $18 to $20 in the peso-dollar exchange. Colio-Warren added that there will be a disclaimer on the study stating that on the first day of the survey a set amount of people was interviewed but on the second day there was a slowdown of people crossing the border.
The conclusion that Colio-Warren reached is that fluctuations of the peso’s dollar value hold people back for a few days, but when they do the numbers, they realize it is still a good deal to cross and buy certain items because they are still cheaper in the United States.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in 2014 there were a total of 18.6 million people traveling northbound into Imperial County through the Calexico West/Mexicali I and Calexico East/Mexicali ports of entry. Based on this figure, the Calexico West Port of Entry (POE) had 32,300 average daily northbound persons crossing, and the Calexico East POE had 18,800 daily border crossers, for a total of 51,100 Calexico/Mexicali daily border crossers. In 2015, the number of Calexico/Mexicali daily border crossers increased to 52,357.
Additional information will be added in subsequent surveys and the study still needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, Imperial County OEDC, and EDA.