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Our Opinion: It ain't over ‘til …

June 24, 2002

It seems as though city officials in Brawley and the city's lobbyist at the state Capitol have far from given up the fight to obtain an enterprise zone designation that would greatly enhance Brawley's ability to attract business.

Now, after it seemed all hope was lost for gaining the designation during the current legislative session, a San Diego-area assemblyman, Juan Vargas, has stepped in to help the city. Vargas, a Democrat, has agreed to co-author a bill with Assemblyman Dave Kelley, a Republican who represents the Imperial Valley and portions of Riverside County, that focuses on the enterprise zone issue.

We appreciate Vargas' and Kelley's efforts. Kelley, who played a key role in helping to bring a new beef-processing plant to Brawley, has worked hard for the city and the Imperial Valley during his tenure as a senator and now assemblyman.

But even as we laud their efforts, there is a tough battle ahead. Time is of the essence. Even though Vargas and Kelley will co-author a bill, the legislation must be placed onto a pre-existing bill that has already died. That is where the city's lobbyist, Bill Dohring comes into play. It is his job to find an existing bill onto which the Kelley/Vargas legislation can be added. That bill then must be gutted of all legislation except for the enterprise zone matter so it will have the best chance of surviving its way through the Legislature. All of this has to happen quickly.

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It would mean a lot to Brawley to obtain the enterprise zone designation, which would replace the city's manufacturing enhancement area designation. While the MEA helped the city attract the beef plant, it is limited in that it only allows the city to offer tax breaks to manufacturing companies. The enterprise designation would allow the city to offer tax breaks to a much broader range of businesses.

We are confident with the growth we are seeing in the Valley now that there could be even more if there was an enterprise designation in the North County. Our unemployment rate has already dropped 10 percent and we would like to see it continue to drop. The more people we have employed in good, stable jobs, the better life will be for everyone.

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