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Calexico RDA vows to invest in marketing strategy

March 14, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The Redevelopment Agency here on Tuesday pledged to make an investment in a comprehensive marketing strategy for the city at its next regular meeting.

Calexico City Council members, seated as the city Redevelopment Agency, held off on any decision last night concerning marketing and economic development to allow the agency to listen to more presentations from public relations firms and get input from the city Economic Development Commission, according to councilman Gilbert Grijalva.

Vigorous energy has been expended recently on the city's economic development in part because of a $100,000 grant the agency received at the beginning of this year, said Juan Verdugo, Calexico economic and community development director.

The agency was awarded the grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

A part of that $100,000 is to be set aside for marketing, Verdugo said.

"I'm looking forward to other presentations to help us decide how we spend our redevelopment dollars, but I know we need to coordinate economic development with a marketing strategy," Grijalva said.

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One way in which the money will be spent is with the hiring of a public relations firm to market the city to outside interests.

At Tuesday's agency meeting, the agency board listened to and watched a presentation from the Mexicali public relations firm of Sanchez and Treviño.

"Just like Mexicali and Calexico have helped each other in the past, we would like to help Calexico," said Adriana Sing, a representative for the firm.

"We feel we can do the job," Sing said.

Sanchez and Treviño have been in business since 1987. They count among their clients, Foremost Milk, Calimax Supermarkets and Garlan's of Calexico.

One of the showcase advertisements the agency board watched was for Calimax Supermarkets.

It featured shoppers pushing carts filled with gigantic supermarket items such as brand name mayonnaise and canned peaches.

Members of the agency board stated they were impressed with Sing's presentation but stressed they need more information before they will make their final decision on whether the firm will be contracted.

Mayor Javier Alatorre said the final decision will come at the agency's next meeting March 27 because he wants to move on the matter quickly.

The rest of the agency board agreed.

"I want to state this emphatically: We need a campaign that is well funded and focused on industry and economic stimulus," said City Councilman John Renison.

"We don't need any more supermarkets or stores. We need to attract industry with promotional materials — including a CD-ROM — we could take to San Diego, Los Angeles and Chicago," Renison added.

Sing was confident that Sanchez and Treviño will be the firm to provide those materials to the city.

"We will see each other again," she said.

In other business at Tuesday's meeting, the board voted 3-2 to pay the building permits for the Neighborhood House Day Care Center's expansion.

Neighborhood House operates three centers in Calexico for the children of low-income parents.

Due to a lack of experience with building procedures, Neighborhood House Executive Director Ricardo Ortega said he was surprised when he went to pull the permits to begin building an addition to the organization's Blair Street center.

"We secured a $130,000 loan from the state Department of Education, we allocated $62,000 in our own funds and were ecstatic and ready to get started when — surprise — $9,370.75 in impact fees (were due)," Ortega said.

Ortega added the board has helped the center in the past but, "We will continue to come to you because we need more."

Councilman Victor Carrillo and Renison voted against paying the impact fees because they said it would set a bad precedent if non-profit organizations came to the city to have their fees waived or paid by the agency each time they built something.

"It would be unfair if we paid (the center's fees) and not someone else's in the future," Carrillo said.

Alatorre agreed, adding, "If we are going to be funding special projects, we need a set policy."

However, Alatorre voted with Councilman Frank O. Montoya and Grijalva to pay the fees for the day care center instead of loaning them the money.

Ortega said the addition is necessary because the center has a waiting list and can't care for all of the children that are eligible for care.

Children are eligible for Neighborhood House day care programs if both parents work.

The agency board wasn't as generous with San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus as they were with Neighborhood House.

The agency voted 3-1, with Renison abstaining because of his employment with the university, against giving SDSU-IV $300,000 toward Rodney Auditorium renovations.

SDSU-IV will proceed with renovating the 74-year-old auditorium with $900,000 the California State University system has allocated to the project, David Coup of Calexico-based Coup/Smith/Diaz Architects said.

Coup said part of the $300,000 SDSU-IV wanted would have been used to renovate seating.

He said SDSU will renovate as much as they can without the Redevelopment Agency's help.

Carrillo wanted to find a way to budget the money for the redevelopment because having a stake in the high-tech auditorium would dovetail nicely with the agency's goals of becoming a more professional and business-friendly city.

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