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Our Opinion: A tour worth giving

December 10, 2001

The Imperial Valley Economic Development Commission, a group of business leaders and Imperial Irrigation District Director Rudy Maldonado had a good idea — bring San Diego officials and business owners to show them what the Valley has to offer to a business looking to grow.

Those local leaders didn't just have the idea — they followed through with it. On Friday a busload of San Diegans made their way to the Imperial Valley and were given the royal treatment, including a tour of the Valley and a lunch at Barbara Worth Golf Resort.

The goal of the tour was simple, but its impact could be far-reaching for the Valley. The goal, simply stated, was to educate San Diego officials and business leaders about what the Valley has to offer — other than water. The hope is that they will take back that information and spread the word. Then, those involved hopeful businesses from that area might take an interest in the Valley. Ultimately the goal of the tour was to create economic development.

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More so now than ever there seems to be drive in the Imperial Valley to diversify the economy, find new ways to grow and spark the kind of development that will build the Valley.

During the lunch meeting, local business leaders, educators, bankers and government officials gave presentations to showcase what the Valley has to offer in infrastructure, workforce, higher education and financing.

We credit those who had the idea and followed through with it. We urge them to continue to bring San Diego leaders to the Valley. We would like to continue to see busloads of business owners from the coast visit our area. We wouldn't mind seeing people brought in from other areas such as Los Angeles. The benefit to the Valley could be great.

We applaud such efforts to try to bring about business development and job creation. Such work could help the Valley escape its long-held standing as the county with the highest unemployment rate in the state.

But such change takes time. People have to remain focused on the long-term goal. There will be no immediate returns on such efforts. We must be patient.

It seems when we think about San Diego these days we think of a large metropolitan area with an even larger straw ready to suck up our water. While we must protect our water rights, we must look toward San Diego and other coastal areas as resources for business development. Local officials are showing they understand that and that is the kind of leadership that can make a difference.

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