By: Mario Conde
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors celebrated the County’s 110 anniversary by remembering its history and celebrating its future.
In a small ceremony held after the Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, August 15th, the county and several elected officials gathered to celebrate the occasion.
Rich in natural beauty and local history, Imperial Valley pioneers from the Midwest settled in the Imperial Valley with a quest to create a new life in the desert. Transporting Colorado River water through the newly constructed All-American Canal opened the door for agricultural success. The precious water resource, combined with 360 days of relentless annual sunshine and a mild winter climate, transformed the desert into a rich, year-round producer of food and forage for the world. Today, Imperial County sees economic growth through foreign investment, retail, industry, and a boom of renewable energy projects.
Imperial County’s economy is based on agriculture and the cross-border family and trade relationships with neighboring Mexico; however, its abundant and diverse renewable energy resources offer an opportunity for the region to diversify and strengthen its economy and reduce its skyrocketing unemployment rate, which is among the highest in the nation.
Imperial County was formed in 1907 from the eastern portion of San Diego County. The county took its name from Imperial Valley, itself named for the Imperial Land Company, a subsidiary of the California Development Company, which at the turn of the 20th century had claimed the southern portion of the Colorado Desert for agriculture.
Much of the Imperial Land Company’s land also existed in Baja California. The objective of the company was commercial crop farming development.
By 1910, the land company had managed to settle and develop thousands of farms on both sides of the border. The Mexican Revolution soon after severely disrupted the company’s plans. Nearly 10,000 farmers and their families in Mexico were ethnically cleansed by the rival Mexican armies. Not until the 1920s was the other side of California in America sufficiently peaceful and prosperous for the company to earn a return for a large percentage of Mexicans, but some chose to stay and lay down roots in newly sprouted communities in the valley.
The County of Imperial of the 21stCentury strives to be the nation’s leader in solar and renewable energy projects. With plenty of room for expansion, Imperial County is the second largest geothermal energy producing county in the nation, generating over 500 megawatts. The Imperial Valley contains nearly 500,000 acres of some of the world’s most productive farmland and possesses the largest single water right on the Colorado River. Our abundant agricultural resources combined with a year-round growing season make this area prime for biofuel production.