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Kuiper, Horne detail state of the county

February 21, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The county needs to hold out the welcome mat to new business, but also make incentives available to businesses already here, county supervisors Chairman Hank Kuiper said in a state of the county address Wednesday.

It is an exciting time to be the chairman of board, Kuiper said. Many projects the county has worked on for years are starting to come to fruition, he said.

Imperial Irrigation District Director Andy Horne and Kuiper gave joint state addresses Wednesday morning at Brunner's Restaurant in El Centro.

The first annual state of the county and IID addresses were sponsored by the local Coalition of Labor and Business — a private group formed to promote the county — and CalEnergy, which operates geothermal power plants in the North County area.

Kuiper said this past year saw major milestones such as the Gateway of the Americas landowners agreeing on a tax rate so water and utilities could be put in place and the land could be developed.

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The Gateway industrial development at the Calexico East Port of Entry could bring thousands of jobs to the Imperial Valley, officials have said.

Another project, the beef-processing plant in Brawley, will bring 600 jobs to the county this year, Kuiper said.

Residents in Brawley near the slaughterhouse have complained about the smell, but Kuiper said he thinks the problems will be taken care of soon.

An international cargo airport, stronger business relationships with San Diego and the possible membership in San Diego Association of Governments, commonly known as SANDAG, are opportunities the county wants to explore, Kuiper said.

The county has invested in promising agricultural projects such as processing sugar cane into ethanol and dairy attraction, he said.

Kuiper said in order to attract businesses the county needs to put in infrastructure such as roads, utility lines and water treatment facilities to develop land.

The board is working with the Imperial irrigation District on economic development, he said. Kuiper, Supervisor Joe Maruca and IID Directors Bruce Kuhn and Horne meet regularly to ensure the two boards communicate.

"The most frustrating thing is not having enough money to do the things we want to do," Kuiper said.

State officials have already said California's budget will be cut. Most of the county's budget comes from the state.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or lauramitchell9@yahoo.com

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