EL CENTRO – County Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the annual update of the comprehensive Economic Development Strategy plan which measures recent trends and actual numbers of the Valley’s economic development.
The committee found the county population for 2013 to be 180,061 and the projected population to grow to 222,920 by 2020.
Education and health care will have the highest employment growth at 36% followed by construction at 30%.
According to the report, unemployment dropped from 2012 (26%) to 22% in 2013.
Personal per-capita income in the Valley, $15,536, remained below the national average of $27,014, as did the median family income, $41,793, nationally, $61,991.
The report found that a quarter of the population lives below the poverty level compared to 15% nationally. Twenty-one percent of families in the valley live below the poverty level.
According to Esperanza Colio, Community & Economic Development manager, the valley has 42,283 MWt of total technical potential in renewable energy. IID has a yearly peak load of 1,000 MWt. While the California Independent System Operator has a yearly peak load of 50,270 MWt.
The IID has a strategic transmission Plan to construct a 2,200 MWt collector system to facilitate export of power to the state and to the southwest region with future upgrades planned to increase the export capacity from 2,200 to 4,100 MWt.
Supervisor Ryan Kelley asked why the MOU signed between the IID and the County was not included in the report as that has already positively impacted economic growth. Kelley also asked about the Salton Sea Restoration Initiative.
“The reason I bring up both of these important events in the county is that they have already contributed significant economic value. With the MOU, economic development in the county has increased now that the IID and the County are working for the common good. Also the Senate passed AB1139, the Salton Sea Restoration Initiative will help pay for the restoration of the Salton Sea and bring in more geothermal industries,” Kelley said.
Colio said that next year both of those events will be included as will the closing of the National Beef Plant and the ICE facility.
“Neither of those shut downs were included in our unemployment numbers, “ Colio explained, “because they happened after we conducted public hearings for comments. If we changed the numbers, we would have to have another public comment period according to the regulations. If we had done that, we would have missed the June 30th deadline. So all that will be included in next years report.”