County approves business incubator in Calexico

February 14, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

On a unanimous vote, the county Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution in favor of a business incubator to be located in the city of Calexico.

There are concerns about the proposal, however.

Supervisors Chairman Tony Tirado said he wants to know who will be the financial lead agency on the project.

"That is still a very unclear situation," he said at Tuesday's board meeting. "It is not going to be the county."

The incubator would be "designed to assist small manufacturing businesses which have links with the maquiladora industry," according to the proposed resolution for adoption.

The resolution throws the county's weight behind the project, which needs $1 million each from the federal government's Economic Development Administration and the state Community Development Block Grant to move forward.


The incubator is being promoted by the Small Manufacturers Association of Southern California, whose officials are seeking to partner with local government agencies to improve the chances of receiving the grants.

The board has previously been told $989,100 would be sought from the federal Economic Development Administration to construct the facility; $989,100 would be sought in state and local agency matching funds for land, furniture, equipment and tools; and $895,000 would be sought in state and local funds for so-called soft costs, such as infrastructure, computers and software. The total is $2.87 million.

Under terms of an agreement between SMA and the city of Calexico, the city would pay for the necessary infrastructure at the project site, an estimated cost of $170,000 for water and sewer setups. The investment by the city would entitle it to half ownership in the incubator, the agreement states.

The project would be near the intersection of Cole Road and Sunset Boulevard in Calexico.

Other concerns aired at a previous board meeting included who would manage the facility, where the workforce would come from and how the workforce would be trained. Others questioned the role of the county in such a private venture.

Another issue of concern was an offer by Desert Real Estate Investors to donate the necessary 5 acres for the project but in return seeking off-site improvements adjacent to the property equivalent to the donated square footage at a rate of about $1 per square foot. It was estimated the donation of the land would actually cost about $217,000.

The goals of the incubator project are to provide a "smart building" with state-of-the-art manufacturing and communications capabilities to spawn business growth and advanced technology-focused skill sets in the Imperial Valley border region, bridge the so-called digital divide and reduce local unemployment.

Three targeted industry sectors are the design, construction and repair of precision tooling; the design, construction and repair of custom machine tools; and the creation, deployment, installation and maintenance of bilingual information technology software and hardware.

In other business, the board:

l voted to accept a report by San Diego State University detailing the costs to Imperial and San Diego county to process illegal aliens. The board was told the report would be used to lobby state and federal officials to shift those costs away from the counties. Estimated total costs to this county in 1999 for providing services to criminal illegal immigrants and providing emergency medical care to illegal immigrants is $5.43 million. For San Diego the estimate is $50.3 million.

l accepted $56,504.86 from the Joint Venture victim-witness program at Calipatria State Prison. The money will be used for victim restitution in the county. Joint Venture is a public-private partnership that resulted from the passage of Proposition 139, the Inmate Labor Initiative, in 1990. Inmates work for a private company in prison. They are paid minimum wage. Their wages also go toward restitution to their victims or to a state victims' compensation program to pay for their room and board and taxes.

l designated county Behavioral Health Services as lead agency for the implementation of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000. The county received $358,697 for fiscal 2000-01.

l approved seeking a state grant for funds to renovate county facilities being utilized as shelter for battered and homeless women and children.

l appointed Dr. Elmer C. Werner, Wilson J. Crandell and Veronica Ruiz Guerrero to the Children and Families First Commission.

l approved sand-drag racing at the Holtville Airport for Feb. 24-25.

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