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Our Opinion: Calexico Chinatown thumbs up

August 15, 2001

The city of Calexico entered into an agreement last week that could prove to be an innovative way to spark economic growth in the city.

On Friday, Calexico City Manager Rich Inman, on the direction of the City Council, signed off on a formal agreement with Chinese businessmen Bernie Chow and Ying Wei Zhen to make the men ambassadors of Calexico, representing the border city in dealing with other Chinese businessmen.

Chow said at a council meeting last week he envisions a "Chinatown" neighborhood in Calexico, complete with neighborhood restaurants, markets and other related businesses. In addition, he indicated Calexico could become a tourist destination for those looking to experience a Chinatown atmosphere like that in most major U.S. cities.

Chow's words seem to be sounding pretty nice to the council's collective ears as several members have called the mixing of cultures a winning proposition with tremendous upside.

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We agree.

If Chow and Zhen are able to do the things of which they boast, Calexico would have access to an infusion of cash. That would come in the form of property taxes when Chinese immigrants buy homes, sales tax revenues from new businesses and a whole mess of revenue from the expected tourism to the area. That influx of cash translates directly to future councils being able to augment city services and furthering the quality of life for Calexico residents, something important to the current council.

We don't think the mix of Chinese and Mexican-American cultures will be a problem for Calexico. After all, Mexicali has a huge Chinese population that was instrumental in developing that city. What's more, the Imperial Valley was built on the sweat and toil of many different cultures that came together to turn a desert wasteland into the agricultural cornucopia we live in today.

Calexico, and the Imperial Valley as a whole, is ready for a Chinatown. Even if such a place does not come to fruition, it's great to see the Calexico City Council embracing new ideas and new ways in which to make the city grow and prosper. This forward thinking can only lead to bigger and better things.

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