City of El Centro

Economic Development Division

Business Information

Getting your El Centro Business License – Video Tutorial

Would you like to start a business in El Centro? One of your first steps should be to obtain a business license from the City. To that effort, the City of El Centro – Economic Development Division has prepared a video tutorial explaining the process to obtain a business license – it is simple and straightforward. 

City of El Centro Brochure

The City of El Centro is “Shining with Opportunity” for business in search of a diverse, growing, and business friendly setting to locate! The “Shining with Opportunity” brochure has been prepared to offer various community, demographic, and market information for businesses interested in locating in the City of El Centro.

City of El Centro Business Guide

The City of El Centro’s Business Guide is a synopsis of the proce- dures and regulations that will assist individuals who are interested in opening a business or are going through the permit process for development purposes. A reference and contact list to related agencies and department personnel is provided at the end of this guide to assist with any questions or uncertainties.

Click here to view online

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.

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 City of El Centro is located in the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ 257). The FTZ provides a tremendous opportunity to assist businesses with the importation, manufacturing, distribution, and exportation of domestic and imported goods. The FTZ Program offers financial and logistical advantages for all types of companies (small-medium-large). The most popular benefits are detailed below.


1.   Duty Deferral – Duties are only paid when imported merchandise is entered into the U.S. Customs territory. 

2.   Duty Elimination – There are no duties paid on merchandise that is exported from a FTZ, transferred to another zone or destroyed. This eliminates the need to manage costly and time-consuming Duty Drawback programs.    

3.   Weekly Entry – Customs allow for a weekly entry processing, which benefits importers because the Merchandise Processing Fees are capped at $485 on a weekly basis, versus per shipment basis.

4.   HMF Deferral – Harbor Maintenance Fee is paid quarterly and in a single payment.

5.   Enhanced Security – By using a FTZ, the “internal controls” requirements of section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are met. Participants in the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program are eligible for additional benefits provided by Customs.

6.   Expedited Logistics – relocating Customs House Brokers (CHB) services to your facility and expedites the delivery to your facility without customs clearance. Potential savings is up to two days.

7.   Ease of Paperwork – through automation of the FTZ, the paperwork submitted for receiving and the weekly entry program is greatly diminished with all parties and the processes for approval are expedited dramatically.

8.   Manipulation – all manipulations are authorized and completed without physical Customs supervision. Goods are allowed to enter an FTZ and have the following manipulations: clean, repair, fix, improve in value, amend, exhibit, pick & pack, and many other functions.  For more information about the FTZ Program and a FREE Cost / Benefit Analysis please contact Adriana Nava at (760) 337-4543 or the at any time.

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.

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.

Council Meeting
New Public Library
Community Newsletter Summer 2023