Community Services Department
Economic Development Division

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Business Programs


Business Incubator
The City's Business Incubation Program is intended to encourage the growth and development of local small business entrepreneurs. Since 2016, the businesses from the incubator have created 112 full-time jobs.

Revolving Loan Fund
The Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) is a program to assist commercial and industrial growth by providing gap financing to businesses that create or retain jobs.
Micro-Enterprise Loans
Micro-Enterprise Loans provide business loans in the amount of $500 to $5,000 to persons owning micro businesses in the City of El Centro and meet low moderate income requirements.

Business Resources
Film Production in El Centro
Filming in Imperial Valley has been alive and well for over 70 years. The City of El Centro and the Imperial County Film Commission work in tandem to encourage filming by the motion picture and television production industry, student filmmakers and the commercial still photography industry.

Imperial Valley Foreign Trade Zone
The Imperial Valley Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) is located within the City of Brawley, the City of Calexico, the City of Calipatria, the City of El Centro, and the unincorporated area of the Imperial County.
The FTZ was created to "expedite and encourage foreign commerce" in the United States. This is accomplished through the designation of geographical areas, in or adjacent to Customs Ports of Entry. Merchandise of every description may be held in the Zone without being subject to Customs duties and other ad valorem taxes.

Key benefits of the FTZ include:
Relief from inverted tariffs 
Duty exemption on re-exports
Duty elimination on waste, scrap, and yield loss
Weekly Entry Savings
Duty Deferral

These types of tariff and tax relief are designed to lower the costs of U.S. based operations engaged in international trade and thereby create and retain the employment and capital investment opportunities that result from those operations. They are also intended to assist U.S. based companies enhance their cost-competitiveness.
For more information, please visit:
Foreign Trade Zone Website Links:

The City of El Centro, covering 11.019 square miles, is the largest city in Imperial County. El Centro is located 616 miles southwest of San Francisco, 117 miles east of San Diego, and 245 miles west of Phoenix. El Centro is accessible via Interstate 8, State Highway 86, and State Highway 111.
El Centro is the county seat and principal trading center of Imperial County. It is strategically located in the Imperial economic base. Several state and federal government offices are located in El Centro, such as the Bureau of Land Management, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Border Patrol headquarters, the Social Security Administration, the Employment Development Department, and the Department of Agriculture.

 IMAGINE Business Recognition
Annually, the City of El Centro solicits public nominations for outstanding businesses for the IMAGINE Business Recognition Awards Program and recognizes seven businesses for their business acumen, talent and expertise.

Local Vendor Preference Program
The purpose of this division is to establish a local business vendor preference program to encourage the purchase of supplies, services, materials, and equipment from vendors located within the boundaries of the County of Imperial in order to enhance diversity and increase competition. This local vendor preference program consists of providing a 10% bid discount for all eligible local business enterprises bidding for contracts to provide goods and services to the City.

Project SHAPE
This Project is intended to assess and evaluate the present use of the downtown area and combine historic preservation with economic development and restore prosperity and vitality to the downtown business district. Project PEACE and the WOW Program were incorporated into the Project SHAPE downtown revitalization efforts.
Project SHAPE Final Plan (October 2007) - 5 MB (PDF)