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Our Opinion: An unfortunate but survivable loss

March 25, 2002

Recently, the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced it was abandoning the idea of having more privately owned and privately operated prisons built in the California and Arizona area because the need no longer exists.

That's bad news for the Imperial Valley, which was under consideration as a site for one such facility.

Having such a facility in the Valley would have led to the creation of 300 more jobs and provided a new revenue stream. The facility would have housed low-level undocumented immigrant criminals and we were convinced it would have represented no tremendous threat to the community. We saw some possible down sides but we mostly benefits from such a facility.

But that is all in the past. There is nothing that can be done to revive the project, save there being a jump in the growth projections for federal inmates.

Still, the Imperial Valley is doing better. That is proven by the fact our unemployment rate has dipped to about 14 percent, and instead of being the county with the highest unemployment rate in the state we are ranked 48th among 58 counties. That is good news and a sign of economic growth.

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While the prison would have been a welcome addition to the county, it is not the only opportunity out there and officials throughout the Valley have to continue to be dogged in their approach to bringing economic growth.

That doesn't mean we should give away our quality of life by attracting industries and other opportunities that could prove deleterious. Still, we have to be aggressive, we have to promote the Valley and we have to bring in those businesses that would provide permanent full-time, clean jobs with good pay and benefits.

There may be some losses along the way like the private prison, but that doesn't mean the trend toward growth has halted. This would have been a project with more pros than cons, but at this point in our history we can survive it and look for something even better.

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