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IVEDC’s Economic and Energy Summit Showcases Imperial Valley’s Renewable Energy Potential and Investment Opportunities

-Editorial

The Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC) concluded a successful three-day Economic and Energy Summit, bringing together industry leaders, policymakers, and investors to discuss the vast economic and energy potential of the region. Held from June 12-14, the summit highlighted the strategic advantages and opportunities that make Imperial Valley a prime location for investment and renewable energy projects.

“We brought a lot of stakeholders that did a lot of networking and the future of not only lithium, but all of the renewable energy that we have in the Imperial Valley will further blossom,” said Jason Jackson, President of IVEDC. “We have three of the County Supervisors present supporting us that speaks that Imperial County is open for business.”

Throughout the summit, attendees participated in a series of panels, workshops, and networking sessions, all focused on fostering economic growth and innovation in the Imperial Valley. The event was marked by enthusiastic participation and a shared vision for the region’s future.

On June 12, 2024, the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC) hosted an Economic Forum at the Brawley Elks Lodge. As a key event of the annual Imperial Valley Economic & Energy Summit, the forum brought together industry leaders from the lithium, energy, labor, and geothermal sectors to network and discuss the region’s economic future.

The event provided a platform for these experts to share insights on crucial topics such as geothermal and solar energy advancements, Lithium Valley developments, and clean transportation initiatives. Presentations underscored the potential for growth and innovation in the Imperial Valley, highlighting the importance of cross-sector collaboration.

Brain Mooney has seen the growth of renewable energy in Imperial County and as a consultant, he is looking for the next big chapter of the region.

“This could potentially be the biggest game-changer, combining renewable energy with manufacturing to create a robust job base in Imperial County,” Mooney said. He added that electric vehicles are experiencing significant growth due to federal funding. “Our economy has predominantly been based on agriculture, but we now have the opportunity to manufacture lithium batteries and electric cars, which will bring new opportunities.”

Timothy Kelley, IVEDC CEO, emphasized the significance of such gatherings: “It started with the solar companies not knowing what an ideal location it was going to be, and from there, we became the solar capital of California. Later, we attracted mineral extraction companies, and they see this is a good place to do business.”

Kimberly Palacio from the San Diego-Imperial Labor Council, a former math teacher at Calexico High School, is currently involved in the California Jobs First Project, conducting outreach for their education and union apprenticeship programs.

Roque Barros, Executive Director of the Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation, spoke about community transformation and the importance of involvement and vision development. “There is a lot of excitement for lithium, so how do we implement a vision and support the community going forward?” Barros said.

Supervisor Ryan Kelley, Jesus Escobar, and Bari Bean, Deputy County CEO of Natural Resources, made the trip to China to promote the county and attract investments to the region. Kelley noted significant interest in investing in Imperial County following their visit.

The County of Imperial was invited by SMM Information & Technology Co., Ltd. to attend, present, and exhibit at the CLNB 2024 China New Energy Expo in Suzhou, China, from May 29-31, 2024. This event offered the opportunity to connect with business leaders and share collaboration opportunities within Lithium Valley with up to 20,000 attendees.

Additionally, the County delegation planned to visit Seoul, South Korea, to meet with mid- and downstream companies that could support and advance lithium production in Imperial County. The County delegation arranged meetings in Tokyo, Japan, with several global manufacturing leaders who have the potential to expand their operations to Lithium Valley.

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