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Video of the Event and Press Conference at Ernie Ball Guitar Strings in Coachella

Here is the raw video from the event on Friday at Ernie Ball Guitar Strings where Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez announced his Enterprise Zone reform legislation. Speakers include the Assemblyman, Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia, Coachella EZ manager Mark Weber, and Mr. Sterling Ball:

And here is a story from the Desert Sun about the event:

The CEO of Ernie Ball Inc., an internationally-known guitar string making plant that’s been in California 49 years, on Friday likened the governor’s threat to abolish Enterprise Zones to a call to Dr. Kevorkian.

“This is the last straw in California” that will break a businesses’ back, Sterling Ball said, as he threw his support to reform legislation that’s been introduced by state Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez to keep the California Enterprise Zone Program in place.

“California has to get serious about making this state a more business-friendly place,” Pérez said during a rally at Ernie Ball Inc., which settled into the Coachella Valley Enterprise Zone in 2004.

Pérez said 2,000 jobs were created and retained in this enterprise zone, alone.

“The governor’s proposal is a step backward,” he said, before calling attention to reform legislation he’s introduced to improve the state economic development tool.

“Government does not create jobs,” Pérez said. “People like Ernie Ball do.”

Ernie Ball Inc. gives 300 people — 80 percent of whom came in as laborers from the farm fields — a “living wage’,” solid insurance plans and perks, said Ball.

Ball said he spent $8 million of his family’s money to move the company to the Coachella Valley, and has enjoyed 7 percent growth since. “We’ve never had a layoff,” and never taken out a bank loan, he said, of the company that supplies guitar strings to 5,500 music stores in the nation and 100 foreign countries.

“If you pull the Enterprise Zone, there will not be one more job added here,” Ball said.

Mark Weber, manger of the Coachella Valley Enterprise Zone, said the state program helped businesses operating with it retain or create thousands of jobs.

Of the 42 Enterprise Zones within the state, three are in the 80th Assembly District that Pérez serves. Besides the Coachella Valley Enterprise Zone, two serve Imperial County.

In 2010, the three zones created approximately 680 new jobs and maintained employment for another 2,000 people.

“It’s important to make it be known that these programs are working and are keeping the lights on, the doors open to businesses like Ernie Ball,” said Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia.

Gov. Jerry Brown said in his first address that he would welcome ideas for budget reform.

“I’m hoping he’s listening,” Pérez said, as Arizona economic development officials in Yuma are already mobilizing to lure away California business. “We cannot stand by idly while our business community is undermined.”

The reform legislation introduced in Sacramento this week is comprised of three bills. Assembly member Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, is serving as the joint author if the bills. Assemblymember Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, is the principal co-author.

Based on two years of oversight hearings, working group meetings and a review of other state programs the amendments fall into three main categories:

- Enhanced oversight and reporting.

- Refinements to the hiring credit, including targeted employment areas.

- Improved linkages to workforce and community development.

Pérez, who chairs the Assembly committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, said the bill would protect against unlimited expansion of zones, greater accountability on local benefits provided through the hiring credit and create an audit system to shed poor-performance areas.

Other reforms would require state agencies and departments that deal with workforce development and training to consider ways to integrate their programs with businesses and workers in the zone.

“The Enterprise Zone program is especially vital to rural communities, like those in Imperial County,” said Diane Cason, manger of the Imperial Valley Enterprise Zone. “With unemployment hovering at close to 30 percent, the creation of any new jobs and the retention of any existing jobs are a matter of utmost importance.”

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