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What Ever Happened to Arvin?

It’s hard to believe, but is has been over 19 months since 23 new Enterprise Zones received conditional designations back in November 2006. All but four of the new zones were able to enjoy immediate implementation because of AB 1550. Santa Clarita, Fresno County, and Compton were all brand new to the EZ program and have all since received their final designations and are now fully functioning zones. Arvin, however remains in a state of limbo.

Some have been wondering if Arvin will ever complete their conditions for becoming an Enterprise Zone. In the mean time, they occupy one of California’s 42 EZ slots preventing any other jurisdiction from attaining that designation until some other zone expires.

But just last week Arvin Mayor Tim Tarver published an Op-Ed in The Bakersfield Californian supporting the Enterprise Zone program in general, and the Arvin EZ in particular, against any attempt to limit the program in the current budget cycle:

Faced with a budget crisis that is set to impact every Californian, tough choices will have to be made to bring order and stability for the years ahead.

The governor and our state Legislature are looking for programs they can cut without too much political backlash. But these choices must not be made in haste. We need to consider the unintended consequences of cutting statewide programs that truly make a difference in cities like Arvin, far away from the Sacramento budget epicenter.

As mayor of the City of Arvin, I know that one of these programs the Enterprise Zone program will help create needed employment opportunities for our city. Yet today this program is under serious threat of being phased out.

The EZ program will bring jobs to Arvin. And it will keep them here. One of the biggest challenges facing our area is being able to recruit local business investment and keep a healthy amount of employees working in our area.

The EZ program, with its attractive mix of incentives and credits, will aid our city in building a stronger base of local businesses and employees. This means a more financially secure and bright future for Arvin.

I spoke with a representative of the City working on the Enterprise Zone and I was told that Arvin has just completed their EIR process which will be presented to the City Council for ratification on June 24th and their intention is to send that last piece to HCD the following day. They have a letter from HCD giving them until July 18th to complete their EIR, so their hope is to be ahead of schedule. After that the ball falls into HCD’s court to compose the Memorandum of Understanding required to assign the final designation date.

As far as Arvin is concerned, they are moving their zone full steam ahead.

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