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Firms look to Calexico RDA for assistance

December 12, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The City Council here will consider forking over nearly $1 million to two private companies and a pair of entrepreneurs who could create hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city.

The two private companies are Apple Core Enterprises Inc. and U.S. Data Source.

Apple Core of North Dakota is an Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar franchisee with 10 locations throughout the country.

At Tuesday night's Redevelopment Agency, Apple Core Executive Vice President Abe Sakak said his company is looking to build restaurant No. 11 in Calexico.

However, before that Apple Core is asking for "incentives" from the City Council.

Mayor Pro Tem John Renison said, "Certainly we will offer some incentives to you."

The sticking point was the nature of the incentives.

Apple Core asked the city for $400,000 to $450,000 to build two roads that would be used by potential restaurant patrons.

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After a question by councilman Javier Alatorre, Sakak said other cities have offered his company incentives such as tax abatements or low-interest grants.

He said the investment by the city would be worthwhile as a new Applebee's would create around 100 jobs and add $200,000 to the city's general fund annually.

Mayor Victor Carrillo directed city staffers to bring back a list of options for next week's meeting "in reference to the incentives we could provide."

Following the presentation by Sakak, the owner of U.S. Data Source, Marvin Madden, took to the dais.

He asked the city to consider giving him $200,000 in the form of a grant and a $200,000 low-interest loan.

Madden said he would use the money to expand his data-production operation, to set up shop in the old Kmart building off Highway 111 and employ up to 500 people.

U.S. Data Source is now off Yourman Road and employs 51 workers, 31 of whom hail from Calexico.

Carrillo asked Madden, "How do you propose to pay back the money?"

Madden quickly responded, "According to your terms."

The council will decide how, or if, to assist Madden at next week's meeting.

Following Madden, two entrepreneurs took to the dais.

Greg Gelmen and Gary Metelshi, pharmacists from Brawley and El Centro, respectively, are looking to start a 1,500 square-foot pharmacy in commercial space at the Hotel De Anza.

Metelshi asked the council to pay $100,000 for the renovation of the commercial space and proffer a $143,000 low-interest loan.

Alatorre told the two men that he had "a problem with the whole concept."

He said the Redevelopment Agency is not supposed to help people start businesses.

"I believe those services are already provided in the community," Alatorre said, referring to business start-up assistance.

Alatorre said that the city would have no problem renting out the available commercial space in the De Anza if it advertised $250,000 in city assistance would be available to prospective business people.

Councilman Frank Montoya agreed with Alatorre: "I don't see why a subsidy is necessary."

Touting his business plan, Metelshi said his pharmacy would offer "tremendous benefits" to the community.

He said the presence of a pharmacy in a building that houses senior citizens, such as the De Anza, could attract medical service providers to set up shop nearby.

If the pharmacy was established in the De Anza there would still be 4,500 square feet in commercial space left for other businesses.

Alatorre said if the council approves this or some of the other recent requests for financial assistance, it would have to "delete" other projects already approved.

He asked city staff to bring back "the list" of those approved projects for discussion at next week's meeting.

The council voted 4-1 to consider giving the two entrepreneurs some sort of financial assistance next week. Alatorre was the lone dissenting vote.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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