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Official Predicts Approval for Santa Ana Trade Zone

June 03, 1986|JAMES S. GRANELLI | Times Staff Writer

A 92-acre site in downtown Santa Ana should be approved within two months as an extension of Long Beach's foreign trade zone, Hank Cunningham, a Santa Ana official, said at a business luncheon Monday.

Santa Ana will pay Long Beach $10,000 the first year and $5,000 annually thereafter to operate the manufacturing and storage zone that will "facilitate international trade for Orange County," Cunningham, assistant director of the city's Economic Development Agency, told the business group at a meeting to bring its members up to date.

A foreign trade zone--or an extension--in Santa Ana will allow Orange County manufacturers to delay and reduce the duties they pay on imported products, components and raw materials. The zone also is expected to create as many as 1,500 jobs and spur industry, city officials have said.

The Santa Ana site, which has grown from the 43 acres proposed two years ago, also will get an international trade boost with the addition of a world trade center building nearby.

Possibility of Building

Supporters of a world trade center are discussing the possibility of putting up a 15-story, 240,000-square-foot building at 4th and Ross streets, across from the city-county civic center and half a mile from the foreign trade zone, said Donald Miller, a banker and first vice president of the Santa Ana Economic Development Corp., a quasi-public corporation that encourages business development in Santa Ana.

The world trade center complex also would include a 200-bed hotel, he said.

Federal approval of the duty-free area in Santa Ana will officially end the city's hope for a separate foreign trade zone. That idea, though, already was scuttled by opposition from Long Beach's foreign trade zone, the only existing duty-free trade zone in Southern California with extensions and subzones in the port area, Ontario and San Diego. Most of the 100 or so foreign trade zones in the country are clustered in the Northeast.

The decision to join the Long Beach zone saved Santa Ana "a lot of time and effort and expense," said John Da Ponte, executive secretary of the U.S. Foreign Trade Zones Board, which must approve new zones, extensions and subzones. He said Cunningham's estimate of approval in one to two months was accurate.

Santa Ana officials had battled to get a separate zone for the city, but they were told that they would not get it in the face of opposition from an existing zone so close, one city official said.

City officials, however, did a public about-face last January, pointing out benefits to becoming an extension of the Long Beach zone. Besides going through a speedier approval process, Santa Ana could gain more clients through an existing marketing plan and could benefit from Long Beach's experience with zone activities and dealings with U.S. Customs. The Port of Long Beach also has modern facilities and is the only nearby port of entry.

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