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What’s Developing Within Economic Development

The Economic Development Department has been busy working on many projects since our last update. It is this activity, energy, and diversity of activities which makes our department an exciting place to be. Below is a brief overview of the important initiatives Leisa Lukes and I are working on:

  1. NEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WEBSITE: Stay abreast of the latest events, learn about our great City, and find important development facts by visiting and bookmarking The Economic Development Department would like to thank Kevin Lockwood for his proactive approach, creativity, and diligence in diagnosing community and developer needs when designing this site. We welcome additional comments and suggestions at
  2. AGUA CALIENTE DOWNTOWN CATHEDRAL CITY CASINO: On January 18, 2018, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians shared their site plan for the 12.5 acres of located on the northwest corner of Date Palm Drive and East Palm Canyon. The site plan contemplates a 60,000 total square foot casino consisting of 500 slot machines in 40,000 square feet of gaming space; 5,000 square feet of restaurant space; and 2,500 square feet of retail space. Further, the plan shows an additional 65,000 square feet of mixed-use space for a total under-roof development of 125,000 square feet. Given the Tribe’s success in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage with two luxury destination-style casino resorts, we know the Tribe will deliver another first-class development!
  3. BOB HOPE CROSSING: The ground-breaking has already begun on this exciting new nine-acre site. It will offer travelers a variety of services including a 90+ room Best Western Plus hotel, AM/PM gas station, Starbucks, McDonalds, Taco Bell and several high-quality quick-serve restaurants.
  4. SUNNIVA: Construction on the Sunniva project is well under way! This $54m project is located on the south side of Ramon Road east of Date Palm Drive and will be approximately 500,000 square feet at build-out. This project will provide 175 to 200 well paying full-time jobs with benefits.
  5. HIRE LOCAL PROGRAM: The Economic Development Department is working closely with the City Council to implement a “Hire Local” program. This program promotes major new businesses to offer all jobs to Cathedral City residents first, before opening the same opportunities to the rest of the Valley. The City and the Council are determined to not only attract new businesses, but ensure our residents are given the first opportunity to land that great new position.
  6. DOWNTOWN CATHEDRAL CITY: Truly exciting things are happening in Downtown Cathedral City. Recent or pending developments within Downtown include: (i) the Agua Caliente casino; (ii) a $2.5m amphitheater located adjacent the parking structure which will be breaking ground within 60 days; (iii) the purchase of the Desert Cinemas theater by CV Repertory is scheduled to close escrow this month. The theater will become home to the future Carol Channing Playhouse with a scheduled opening in the Spring of 2019. I can’t wait!; (iv) The Economic Development Department continues to attract developers interested in creating attractive mixed-use projects located in other areas of the downtown. These projects are anticipated to include retail, lodging, and residential uses.
  7. CVEP, SBA, & CATHEDRAL CITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP: The Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (“CVEP”) and the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) have partnered to provide free monthly bilingual workshops on a variety of business and professional development related topics. The first class starts tonight at 6pm at the Palm Springs Motors dealership. Times, dates, and program topics are available on our new Economic Development website ( Be sure to check the City’s economic development website, CVEP’s website (, and SBA’s website ( for other valuable services and resources. Many of these resources are free!

In future communications, we will keep you abreast of new real estate developments, resources, and other opportunities that will improve the City’s quality of life, property values, and economic activity. All Cathedral City residents can help accelerate our economic development by making a commitment to “buy local” whenever possible and encouraging out-of-town guests to stay in one of our several hotels. It makes economic “cents” for you to keep your tax dollars within the City and help fund local community services and programs. Further, there is no better testimonial for attracting future new businesses than to make sure that our existing businesses are prosperous examples for other potentially interested enterprises to follow.

Also, we encourage you to make a special effort to properly maintain your own properties (whether residential or commercial). This shows civic pride in our community. This is another important “selling point” when prospective businesses, commercial real estate agents, and developers tour our City scouting out future business opportunities.

Please share with your friends and contacts the City’s dedicated website which highlights many of our community attributes. As a team, we all play a part in the long-term success of the place in which we love to live, work, play and stay!

Stone James, Director

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Business in Cathedral City Continues Its Strong Trajectory

Great strides were made in 2017 to fill vacant commercial spaces that have been noticeable in Cathedral City since the Great Recession and its immediate downturn in the economy as well as the ever-changing habits of shoppers from brick and mortar shopping to more online shopping. Big box stores and indoor shopping malls are no longer desirable to many consumers.

The City has been working to address these changes in the market place and recruit new businesses to fill these spaces. In 2017, more than 300 new business licenses were activated in Cathedral City. Here is a list of the better known business:

New Businesses since 2017
Eisenhower Health Center’s Internal Medicine Residency Clinic
Relocated and renovated Eisenhower Occupational Health Services and Primary Care Facility

Staybridge Hotel
Regency Theaters
Planet Fitness
Honda Dealership expansion
Multiple Cannabis businesses

New Restaurants
Bubba’s Bones and Brews
Super Shawarma
La Michoacana (#2)
Lala’s Waffles and Crepes
Justin Eat and Drink
Pollo Dokys
Umami Seoul

Coming Soon in 2018
Restaurants: Pizza Peel and Beyond Balisage

Auto Sector: Relocated and expanded Volvo Dealership (taking over the former Flooring Innovations site)
Construction and relocation of Lexus Dealership (next to Volkswagen)
Mazda Dealership expansion

North Cathedral City: 98-room Best Western Plus Hotel
Taco Bell

Cannabis: Sunniva ($54 million cultivation facility)
EcoPlex Park

For help on starting a business or keeping up-to-date on the latest business news, go to

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No-Cost Business Workshops for Entrepreneurs to be Offered in English & Spanish


CONTACT: Laura James

Cathedral City, CA (January 29, 2018) – The Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP) in conjunction with the City of Cathedral City and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) present a series of monthly workshops geared towards helping entrepreneurs open and run their businesses profitably.  The “Small Business Success Series” will feature a new topic each month, beginning February 8 and continuing through November 2018 at Palm Springs Motors, 69200 Hwy 111, Cathedral City, CA 92234. Each workshop will be presented in English (from 6:00-6:50pm) and Spanish (from 7:00-7:50pm).

Entrepreneurs throughout the Coachella Valley have increasingly requested access to resources to help start and grow their businesses. Cathedral City, already home to a vibrant array of small businesses, is primed for additional small business growth with plans in place to expand downtown offerings and add to its overall economic base. With an eye towards supporting current and future home-grown businesses, the City has enlisted existing business support agencies – CVEP and SBA – to deliver high-quality business education and information to its aspiring business owners, and to do so in both of the region’s predominant languages.

“When local businesses open their doors, we want them to have access to all the tools and information they need to ensure that they become profitable and successful. We also want to make sure that we are serving our many local Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs, who have been traditionally underserved by similar education programs. The “Small Business Success Series” is designed to enhance the business acumen of our local entrepreneurial community and to help them build their businesses in such a way that they’ll be successful for the long-term,” says Stone James, director of economic development for Cathedral City.

Topics will include business startup basics, understanding credit, business financing, digital and social media marketing, customer service, preparing for the holidays, and more. Most workshops will be held on the second Thursday of each month with the exception of August (Saturday, August 11) and November (the third Thursday, November 15).  There is no fee to attend.

For more information, please contact Laura James at 760-340-1575 or

To register for the February 8 session in English, please visit this link.

To register for the February 8 session in Spanish, please visit this link.

About Coachella Valley Economic Partnership

CVEP is a nonprofit organization that serves as the regional economic development agency for the Coachella Valley. CVEP manages the Palm Springs iHub and Accelerator Campus, operates a business retention and expansion group, and is the point of contact for business attraction. Visit, email, or call 760-340-1575.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

Since its founding on July 30, 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses.

SBA provides assistances primarily through its four programmatic functions: Access to Capital, Entrepreneurial Development, Government Contracting, and Advocacy. Visit  for more info.


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Cathedral City Fee-to-trust Casino Project

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (Tribe) proposes to build a gaming facility and ancillary amenities on land that it owns contiguous to the Tribe’s Reservation within the City of Cathedral City (City), in Riverside County, California (Proposed Project). As part of the Proposed Project, an application has been filed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to take approximately 13 acres of land into trust on behalf of the Tribe for gaming purposes. The federal actions necessary to implement the Proposed Project trigger the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). An Environmental Assessment/Tribal Environmental Impact Report (EA/TEIR) is being prepared to meet the requirements of NEPA and the 2016 Tribal-State Compact.

The Tribe proposes to develop the new trust lands with the following uses:

  • Casino
  • Restaurants/bars
  • Retail and mixed-use space
  • Tribal government offices
  • Parking

The scoping comment period is open from December 29, 2017 to January 29, 2018. A scoping hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on January 18, 2018 at DoubleTree by Hilton, located at 67967 Vista Chino in Cathedral City, CA 92234.

Project website:

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CV Small Business Awards Emceed by Mark Carnevale and Held at DoubleTree Golf Resort in Cathedral City

CV Small Business Awards Emceed by Mark Carnevale and Held at DoubleTree Golf Resort in Cathedral City

The Coachella Valley Small Business Awards Program, hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Coachella Valley Small Business Development Center, and the Riverside County Economic Development Agency, was held on Thursday, December 14, 2017, in Cathedral City at the DoubleTree Hotel.

Coachella Councilmember Steve Brown, representing Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, addressed the audience as Cathedral City Councilman Mark Carnevale, event emcee, and Riverside County Supervisor Manny Perez joined the 5 award recipients on stage. The event honored small businesses in the Coachella Valley and celebrated the following outstanding honorees:

NEW BUSINESS AWARD – John Diskin, Owner, Grand Central Palm Springs
WOMAN OWNED BUSINESS AWARD – Nima Pauline, Owner, Eco Culture Manufacturing
VETERAN OWNED BUSINESS AWARD – Antonio Ameen, President, Power4ward LLC
WORKFORCE BUSINESS AWARD – Emily Downing, Office Manager, Desert Medical Health & Wellness
SPECIAL PARTNER AWARD – J. Adalberto Quijada, District Director, Santa Ana District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration

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New SBA 504 SOP Means Less Risk for Tax Payers and Less Regulation for Small Business Owners

New SBA 504 SOP Means Less Risk for Tax Payers and Less Regulation for Small Business Owners

SBA SOP 50(10) J, the new Small Business Administration regulations for the SBA 504 Fixed Asset Finance and Refinance program was released on Friday, October 16th.  The new regulations will reduce some regulatory burdens for borrowers and will reduce some risk to tax payers.  Highlights of the changes are provided below:

  • Special Purpose Properties. Business owners buying gas stations, car washes, hotels, assisted living facilities, and hospitals will continue to require a low down payment of a minimum of 15% down payment for  their first project financed with the SBA 504 loan program (with an additional 5% if the project is new).  Subsequent special purpose projects will require a 20% down payment.Overall, the SBA reduced the number of industries considered “special purpose” because of new development standards that may not deem a project a special or single purpose use.
    Properties financed with the SBA 504 loan that are not special purpose require a down payment as little as 10% for the business owner.
  • Franchise Update. The SBA has created a Franchise Directory, which includes all franchise and other brands reviewed by the SBA that are eligible for SBA financial assistance. The brands on the SBA website at   registry will document all eligible franchises.  If the franchise is listed on the website, no other review of the franchise agreement or eligibility of the franchise will be required, thus eliminating inconsistent decisions and backlogs.  If the franchise is NOT on the registration, then the CDC must submit the franchise for a pre-application review.
  • Energy Public Policy Update. Energy Public Policy Projects that allow a borrower to obtain multiple SBA 504 Loans when the fixed asset project reduces energy by 10% or creates renewable energy, has now limited these projects to no more than $16.5 Million in the aggregate per borrower.
  • Refinance. Businesses seeking to refinance commercial real estate can continue to take advantage of pulling cash out for business expenses; however, the cap on cash out will be 20% as of January 2018 vs. today’s 25%.

For confirmation and additional details, please contact the local SBA Office at 760.408.0049 / /

Community Update – July 13, 2017

Community Update – July 13, 2017
A Message from Curt Watts, Economic Development Director

The City of Cathedral City works closely with the local Chamber of Commerce to promote and encourage continued success among members of the Cathedral City business and civic service community.  It’s especially fitting, therefore, that each year the City’s best & brightest “stars”, and those who support their continued success, are recognized at the Chamber’s annual Orion Awards.  This year’s event was held on Friday, June 23rd at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Resort Hotel at Vista Chino & Landau.  The overall Presenting Sponsor of the event was Jessup Auto Plaza.

The festive evening event began with a cocktail reception and silent auction bidding by attendees on amazing offerings donated by area businesses and organizations.  The signature presentation of the Orion Awards, which recognize outstanding performance and accomplishments in nine different categories, was masterfully led by Emcee Wesley Eure whose career credits include being an actor, singer, author, producer, director, charity fundraiser and lecturer

CONGRATULATIONS to this year’s Orion Award winners and nominees in each category:

Award Sponsor: New Leaf CateringOther Nominees: Debbie Craig, Gillian Cross and Loretta Nelson

Award Sponsor:  Southern California EdisonOther Nominees: Rhonda Guillaume, Leisa Lukes, Charlie McClendon, Pat Milos and Judy Williams

Award Sponsor: Winslow Drake Investment ManagementOther Nominees: AJ’s on the Green, El Portal, Frankie’s Italian Bakery, Tony’s Burgers and Zobo & Meester’s

Award Sponsor: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla IndiansOther Nominees: Cathedral City Historical Society, Cathedral City Rotary Clubs, Desert AIDS Project and Guide Dogs of the Desert

Award Sponsor: The David Rohr Floral StudioOther Nominees: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Atomic Budz, CV Repertory Theater, RELEAF Cathedral City and Winslow Drake

Award Sponsor: Palm Springs MotorsOther Nominees: Susana Avalos, Julie Frazier, Loretta Nelson and Kara Robinson

Award Sponsor: Jessup Auto PlazaOther Nominees: David Bermudez, Cary Boisvert, Rocky DiLucchio, Thomas Hengy and Terry Nelson

Award Sponsor: The Desert SunOther Nominees: Body Concierge, Cathedral City Revivals, NAI Consulting, Team Art, Terry & Kara, Winslow Drake

Award Sponsor: Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral CityOther Nominees: Davies Auto Care, Frazier Pest Control, La Michoacana Ice Cream Parlor, Quick Quack Car Wash and Rocky’s Pawn Shop

SPECIAL THANKS to the many volunteers involved in making this event a stellar success!



keepitlocalCommunity Update by Curt Watts
Economic Development Director

It makes a lot of “cents” for Cathedral City residents and visitors to actively support businesses located within our city.  As the summer approaches and fewer visitors to the Coachella Valley are in town, your collective support of our local businesses is especially important.

By shopping locally, you not only save time and gasoline, but also benefit from the more than $8 million in annual sales tax revenue received by the City.  These sales tax dollars represent a significant portion of the City’s General Fund revenue and help fund local needs such as police and fire protection services.  In addition, healthy local businesses provide job opportunities for our residents to truly experience the goal to live, work and play in one place!

Cathedral City is very fortunate to have a wide variety of small and large businesses offering everything from major purchases to the essentials of everyday life, and from specialty purchases for yourself to gifts for those near and dear to you.  Explore the many local options for furniture, consignment & resale “finds” or even a new car from the many quality establishments along Highway 111.

Expand your weekly shopping route while shopping for the “necessities of life” by taking a special detour into one of our many shopping centers and stand-alone businesses along other various commercial corridors.  It’s hard to imagine that with a little creative exploration you won’t find almost everything you truly need (or decide you just can’t do without!) by shopping close to home in Cathedral City.

And when it comes to eating establishments, there’s something to meet everyone’s personal taste whether it be for that “quick bite on the go” or a relaxing lunch or dinner with friends, family or work buddies.  You may even want to consider some of the special offerings provided by our local hotels when you have out-of-town guests visiting and are short on space to accommodate them comfortably at home.

Speaking of our hotel offerings, special congratulations to Yessica Puga and Juan Carlos Vera who were recently honored at the 2017 Oasis Awards Ceremony (hosted by the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau) for their outstanding customer service provided at the DoubleTree  bv Hilton Golf Resort in Cathedral City.

When you shop, dine and have friends and family stay locally, more of these dollars recirculate within the community through taxes, employment and philanthropic support for local groups.  As the second largest city in the Coachella Valley, if all 54,000+ Cathedral City residents just spent 10% of whatever they currently purchase online or outside of Cathedral City – at locations within our City – the impact would be significant in providing extra tax dollars for local services to our citizens.

Agua Caliente Tribe Invests in Cathedral City

Tribal development to boost downtown revitalization; Tribe to cover costs to relocate, rebuild fire station

CATHEDRAL CITY, CA – The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians announced today it is acquiring 12.5 acres for a development project in the heart of downtown Cathedral City, and it will contribute funds to relocate a fire station currently at the site.

“This is about making a large-scale investment in Cathedral City,” Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe said. “The future development will create jobs, revitalize an undeveloped downtown property and support Cathedral City’s economic development efforts. In addition, we have the honor of working with Cathedral City to relocate and build a new fire station that will allow fire fighters to serve city residents from a brand new state-of-the-art facility and a more desirable location.”

The Tribe will contribute $5.5 million to the City Urban Revitalization Corporation for the purpose of relocating and constructing the new fire station. In consideration of the contribution and the benefits associated with the development — which will create jobs and help revitalize downtown – the City Urban Revitalization Corporation will transfer the property to the Tribe.

In total, the Tribe’s development area includes about 13 acres at the northwest corner of Date Palm Drive and East Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City. The Tribe plans to create a master plan for a new mixed-use entertainment and gaming district, which is allowable and contemplated by the Tribe’s recent gaming compact signed by Governor Jerry Brown that took effect on Oct. 31, 2016.

“Cathedral City and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians have been partners over the years on major infrastructure improvement projects for Ramon Road and Vista Chino Drive as well as partners in purchasing lifesaving equipment for our fire and police departments,” Cathedral City Mayor Stan Henry said. “Now, we come together once more to enhance our public safety capabilities with the construction of a new south city fire station as well as building a major mixed-use commercial and gaming development that will serve as a vital anchor in moving our downtown into an entertainment district destined for residents and visitors alike.”

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