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Valley woman now Assembly committee's top consultant

February 27, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

One of the Imperial Valley's own has been hired as chief consultant to an Assembly committee on jobs, economic development and the economy.

As in the past, Celeste Cantú expects her efforts to benefit the Imperial Valley as well as the Coachella and Central valleys.

"I'm excited about it," she said. "I get to take my lifelong mission of helping disadvantaged areas with me and that's a privilege."

Cantú's last day as state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development was Friday. As a presidential appointee, the appointment ran out when the previous administration left office Jan. 20. The current administration asked her to stay on awhile longer. She held the state directorship for 26 months.

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Her new job with the Assembly starts Thursday.

Cantú was hired for the position by Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes, D-Fresno, who will chair the committee.

Reyes and Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Sherman Oaks, re-established the defunct committee. Reyes' Chief of Staff Adriana Ruelas said the committee had existed in the early 1980s but disappeared with the state's economic downturn of the early ‘90s.

Ruelas said Cantú's work is well known to Reyes, who thinks the committee can accomplish much in the area of economic development, particularly in rural areas. The committee is also expected to help create statewide policy on economic development, international trade and information technology and try to repeat the success of the Silicon Valley elsewhere in the state.

Cantú said part of the committee's mission is to look at the impact of technology, education, access to capital and the various forms of infrastructure on economic development.

"It basically looks at economic development from the holistic standpoint," Cantú said Monday, adding the committee will research why some areas of the state have done well economically while other areas have not.

Cantú will move from the her USDA office in Davis to the State Capitol's fourth floor. She'll have a staff of four, two of whom are already on board.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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