It appears there may be a major undercount for Imperial County in the recently released 2000 federal census.
Nowhere will that hurt more than El Centro, where city leaders had been pushing for everyone to stand up and be counted as the 2000 census approached.
The main reason for that push was the city was seeking a metropolitan statistical area designation, which would open the city to countless state and federal grant opportunities and programs. The city and/or area needed to cross the magic 50,000 threshold to get that designation. With 37,835 counted residents in El Centro, 7,650 tallied residents in Imperial, and the adjacent county areas with an undetermined population but 550 housing units, city officials have said the area will not reach the needed number.
Aside from missing out on eligibility for grants and programs, not qualifying as an MSA is a blow to commercial development. Many retailers only open their eyes to MSAs, so such a designation means a retail influx, and a flood of commerce and job opportunities often follows. We need all that, along with all the grants and programs that come with an MSA, here in our Valley.