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Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation

3051 N. Imperial Ave., Suite 102
El Centro, CA 92243
P: +1 760-353-8332

Why Imperial Valley, CA?

Imperial County is one of California's primary centers for clean technology, renewable energy, agribusiness, and international trade and logistics with abundant, affordable land; a readily accessible workforce; and year-round access to water, sun, and wind. Today, Imperial County sees economic growth through foreign investment, retail, industry, and a boon of renewable energy products (Imperial County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, 2016).



Imperial County's economy is based on agriculture, cross-border family and trade relationships with Mexico, while also offering abundant and diverse renewable energy resources. In 2015, Imperial County ranked #11 out of 58 California Counties with a gross value of agricultural production at $1,925,134,000 (Imperial County Crop and Livestock Report, 2016).


The valley is home to the Calexico East Port of Entry, one of the two main California-Mexico freight gateways, serving nearly all of the international truck traffic crossings in Imperial County with a total trade value of over $12 billion dollars in 2012 (California Department of Transportation, 2014).

By 2050 almost 17 million tons of goods per year are projected to be handled at Imperial County border crossings, with an estimated value of $143 billion (an average annual growth of 5.4 percent) (California Department of Transportation, 2014). The county's proximity to the city of Mexicali, which serves as an education hub, provides an economic advantage.


With Mexicali's population of an estimated 1 million, Imperial Valley's daily population increases exponentially due to the close proximity to the two international ports of entry located in the Mexicali-Calexico border-city region. An estimated 14,000,000 crossings occur yearly between the two countries.

Growth in the production of high-quality manufacturing products in the Imperial Valley region is expected to be strong in the future (Goods Movement Border Crossing Study, 2016).

Industry clusters:
  • Renewable energy
  • Aerospace
  • Agribusiness
  • Real Estate
  • Construction
  • Biotechnology
  • Data Centers
  • Manufacturing
  • International Trade & Logistics




Top & Targeted Industries

  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing And Hunting
    The Imperial Valley is largely flat terrain with mountains toward the west. Its central portion has been irrigated with water from the Colorado River since nearly the turn of the century. Historically, Imperial Valley has been one of California’s leading agricultural areas. Today, the economy is driven by logistics firms, warehousing, retail trade and light manufacturing. The valley encompasses nearly 500,000 acres of some of the world's most productive farmland and possesses the largest single water right on the Colorado River. Abundant agricultural resources and a year-round growing season make it an area prime for biofuel production.
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing And Hunting
    According to the 2016 Imperial County Crop and Livestock Report, cattle has consistently been the #1 commodity trend for the Imperial County since 1957. The gross value for cattle in 2016 for the Imperial County was $400,614,000. The County has three areas of production: Imperial Valley (472,593 acres), Palo Verde (7,668 acres) and Bard/Winterhaven (14,452 acres), for a total of 494,713 farmable acres.

Our Region

Imperial County is rich in natural beauty, local history, and culture. The unique culture blends two different countries, the United States with Mexico due to its geographic location along the international border. This blend, along with a small town atmosphere and an agricultural based economy, provides a strong work ethic.


 The Imperial County shares a unique multicultural experience with its close proximity to the international border. Imperial Valley's southernmost city Calexico offers a quick walk or drive to one of the international ports of entry to Mexicali, Capital of the Mexican state Baja California.

The Calexico West Port of Entry is the third busiest land port in California with 4 million northbound vehicles and 4.5 million pedestrians crossing each year. Across the Imperial/Mexicali POEs, there are approximately 80,000 people that cross into the U.S. daily for work, school, shopping, entertainment and other socially related trips (ICCEDS, 2016).


 The Imperial Valley is home to many festivals year round some examples include: The California Mid-Winter Fair and Fiesta, The Mariachi Festival, and The Cattle Call Rodeo.

The desert and dunes of the Imperial Valley are also a big attraction for off-road enthusiasts and has been an attractive setting for films, commercials, and other media.

Programs and Incentives

  • Foreign Trade Zone #257. The advantages of the Foreign Trade Zone far exceed benefits of any other program that currently exists. These advantages include, but are not limited to:
    • Relief from Inverted Tariffs (Manufacturing)
    • Duty Exemption (Exports)
    • Duty Deferral (Cashflow)
    • Weekly Entry (MPF Minimization)
    • Unlimited Storage
  • Cali Baja Bi-national Mega-Region. The Valley makes up part of this unique bi-national location for business investments. CaliBaja provides access to the lucrative California and North American markets, is strategically located to access global markets in the Pacific Rim and is a gateway to the emerging Latin American markets.

  • Recycled Markets Development Zone (Cal EPA program). The goal of this program is to increase diversion of non-hazardous solid waste away from California landfills and to promote market demand for secondary and postconsumer materials. Program benefits include:
    • Business loans
    • Creative partnerships
    • Free advertising
    • Permitting assistance
  • Historically Under Utilized Business Zone (HubZone program). This helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. Benefits for HubZone-certified companies include:
    •  Competitive and sole source contracting
    • 10% price evaluation in full and open contract competitions

  • California Competes tax credit program. Income tax credit available to business who want to come, stay, or grow in California, with tax credit agreements negotiated by GO-Biz and approved by a statutorily created "California Competes Tax Credit Committee" (Business.ca.gov).



Southern Border Broadband Consortium

Southern Border Broadband Consortium (SBBC)
The Southern Border Broadband Consortium is an ongoing initiative dedicated to providing internet services to underserved communities within the border region of Southern California. The California Advanced Services Fund has helped finance the SBBC in its efforts to expand internet connectivity in the San Diego and Imperial counties. In 2017, this foundation has approved four new projects that will help provide internet connectivity for more than 13,000 households in six counties across California. In addition, the California Emerging Technology Fund has helped subsidize the SBBC. This venture is largely supported by the successful mergers of SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI. These new entities have contributed $60 million to further advance broadband connectivity efforts in California for the next five years. SBBC wants to assist in making use of those funds regionally.

Our Education

The Imperial Valley College (IVC), San Diego State University (SDSU) and the University of Phoenix are the Valley's main institutions for higher education and are key contributors to the growing qualified work force the valley has to offer.

  • San Diego State University offers a variety of degrees typically for 3rd and 4th year students accepting transfer students from IVC. The Imperial Valley University Partnership (IVUP) program allows incoming freshmen to complete their Bachelor’s Degree locally through a partnership between IVC, SDSU, and the Imperial County Office of Education (ICOE).
  • Imperial County residents interested in career technical education can also attend a number of accredited institutions that offer a variety of vocational training programs (ICCEDS, 2016).
  • IVC offers technical careers and certificates and allows students to transfer to the four-year universities of their choice, particularly transferring STEM-focused students.
  • The University of Phoenix is a private university and has a campus in El Centro where students can pursue their education through flexible degree programs, through on-campus or online formats.

IVC and the University of Arizona-Yuma entered a memorandum of understanding and formed a partnership in order to allow students more transfer options for earning a bachelor's degree while staying relatively close to their home (Imperial Valley College, 2015)

IVC also entered into an MOU with CETYS University in Mexicali, establishing an exchange program, allowing students to do their first two college years at IVC and then transfer to CETYS - the only Mexican university with Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation - for their final two years (IVC, 2014).

CETYS and SDSU have partnered over several decades, exchanging faculty and students in innovative programs which has enhanced education on both sides of the border (SDSU NewsCenter, 2015). A recent program made up of two concentrations, Business in the Global Marketplace and International Entrepreneurship, was designed and launched by SDSU and CETYS faculty.
                                                                                                                                     

Aerospace

Developing the region’s airports and available airspace to attract engineering, manufacturing, research and development of the aircraft and spacecraft industries. Imperial County’s assets that support these industries are as follows:

  • Availability of uncongested airspace
  • Proximity to restricted airspace
  • Rural locations to facilitate rocket and jet testing
  • An average of 360 days of clear flying weather per year
  • Availability of affordable workforce
  • Proximity to San Diego County’s $1.3 billion Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry
  • Proximity to Mexicali, BC Mexico which currently has 25 aerospace related companies with a workforce of approximately 7,500 engineers, technicians and operators (2)

2017 Imperial Valley Economic Development Summit

Small Business Development Center

Small Business Development Center

An organization that is dedicated to the goal of helping aspiring entrepreneurs pursuing their passions by providing no-cost consulting to help them with assistance to begin their new ventures. The SBDC has four locations within the San Diego & Imperial counties along with more 1,000 development centers across the country. The services provided include the following: Accounting/Quickbooks, Marketing/Public Relations, Business Plan Assistance, Growth & Expansion Strategies, Sales & Customer Service, Financial Analysis/Cash Flow Management, Business Structure/Formation, Merchandising, E-commerce & Online Sales.

2017 Blue Angels NAF El Centro Airshow

Did You Know?

  • The Imperial Valley is home to the Salton Sea, where a lot of boating, hiking, and fishing takes place.
  • The Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's flight demonstration squadron, perform at the annual Naval Air Facility (NAF) Airshow in El Centro, CA. The team has been training and performing there for 50 years.
  • Many films, commercials, music videos and TV programs have been filmed here. Feature films include hits like The Scorpion King and Return of the Jedi (http://www.filmimperialcounty.com/credits/).

Data Name Value Percent
Total Population 178,807  
Median Age 32.2  
Bachelor's Degree or Higher, Age 25+ 15,029 13.96%
High School Degree or Higher, Age 25+ 72,174 67.03%
Civilian Labor Force 70,504 52.94%
Median Household Income $42,560  
Major airports within area + 100 mile radius Yuma Mcas/Yuma Intl
Regional airports within area + 100 mile radius Imperial County
General aviation airports within area + 50 mile radius
Airport Name
Brawley Muni
Calexico Intl
Cliff Hatfield Memorial
Holtville
Jacumba
Ocotillo
Salton Sea