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Tirado declares ‘incubation project is dead'

May 16, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — "The incubator project is dead," according to the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, Tony Tirado.

Tirado addressed the Calexico City Council, seated as the city Redevelopment Agency board, during Tuesday's special RDA meeting.

On Monday, Wil Marshal said the same thing.

Marshal is a representative in the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration office in Los Angeles.

The incubator was to have been a joint project between the city of Calexico and the non-profit Small Manufacturers Association of California.

Any money raised by the manufacturers' association, venture capital investors and the city would have been matched by the EDA up to almost $1 million.


Tirado informed the board the EDA has done a match with the Coachella Valley for almost $1 million instead of the Imperial Valley because EDA officials were "tired of waiting" for Calexico to finalize the funding application.

"Why are projects going to Coachella?" Tirado asked the board.

The board gave direction to Juan Verdugo, director of the city's economic development commission, to go to Los Angeles and talk to Marshal and find out what is happening.

The incubator would have developed high-technology manufacturing systems for sale to Mexican firms directly across the border.

It would have been on Cole Road in the northwest area of Calexico on land donated by international businessman Bill Polkinhorn.

However, the land wouldn't have been exactly free.

According to a story in this newspaper earlier this year, the "donation" would have cost the city $217,000 in infrastructure costs to pay for road improvements on land used by international trucking companies.

Marshal said the city never finalized the land deal and never specified how it was going to pay for the improvements.

The land issues that Marshal mentioned were not brought up in Tuesday's meeting but the board did discuss Brad Ward.

Mayor Victor Carrillo said Ward, the president of the manufacturers' association, treated the city like a tuna.

"I felt like he was reeling us in," Carrillo said.

He added, "He started off his pitch saying the city would only have to provide a minimal investment, $150,000. Then it was $300,000. Then we heard costs could be more than $500,000."

Mayor Pro Tem John Renison and councilman Gilbert Grijalva also expressed doubts about Ward's character.

"According to the letter sent to the city from the EDA, Ward told them that interest (in an incubator) had waned from the maquiladoras," Renison said. "I don't see how the city is to blame."

Marshal said it is unlikely that there would all of a sudden be less interest from the maquiladora industry.

He said, "The city didn't complete the application."

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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