Construction of two detention centers near the Calexico East Port of Entry is anticipated to bring hundreds of construction and permanent jobs, and one is anticipated to have a groundbreaking in the next few weeks.
The 65,000-square foot facility by Hill Mills Construction will house low-level inmates of both sexes, Imperial Valley Economic Development Commission president and chief executive officer Tim Kelley said.
He said the project by Hill Mills Construction is being built on speculation and will be filled with inmates as there’s a need. Management Training Corp. will operate the facility after it’s built.
The approximately $60 million project will house about 800 detainees and is privately operated and financed while working through an Intergovernmental Service Agreement with the city of Holtville, IVEDC Chairman Tom DuBose said.
While the facility is not to be exclusively used by anybody, it’s likely to be utilized by the U.S. Marshals Office as a short-term holding area as detainees are being processed through the court system, he further explained.
“The U.S. Marshals Office seems to have the need to house people within the area,” DuBose said. “Most detainees are being housed in Northern California and that’s not efficient or convenient … They’d like to house them in the area that they’re being processed.”
Construction jobs fairs were already held in Holtville and Calexico, and more jobs are expected to come as it’s completed, which is anticipated to be by next summer. There’s a focus to fill as many labor slots locally as possible, DuBose said.
“This is going to a great project for the county, because it will create about 250 permanent jobs,” he added. “This is definitely a boost to the job market of Imperial County in about a year, and a boost for construction jobs today.”
The project’s grading permit was issued last week and other permits will be issued in stages.
The detention center is anticipated to be off of Highway 98 in the Gateway of the Americas County Service Area.
A similar approximately $56 million, female-specific detention center is also in the works but it’s unclear when construction will begin for that one at this time.
It could also house as many as 800 beds, would be in the same area, and could be utilized by the U.S. Marshals Office.
The city of Imperial was approached to assist with the Inter-Governmental Service Agreement needed for that project’s development. Proponents of that project also tout the project’s ability to bring jobs to the area.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org