City of Indio
The City Of Festivals Takes Center Stage
Words by Daniel Vaillancourt
Photographs by Chris Miller / imagineimagary.com
MAYOR: Waymond Fermon
MAYOR PRO TEM: Oscar Ortiz
COUNCIL MEMBERS: Lupe Ramos Amith, Glenn Miller, Elaine Holmes
YEAR INCORPORATED: 1930
Indio is not only the oldest and largest of all desert cities, it’s also one of the most attractive, whether it be to business entities or to young families seeking to start the good life in earnest.
“We consistently, year or year, issue more building permits than all of the other cities in the Coachella Valley combined,” says Indio’s Economic Development Director Carl Morgan, a municipal government veteran with more than 35 years of experience in California who’s been in his current post for over six years. “People are attracted to Indio because of the quality of life, the sense of community, the schools, the open space, the amenities, the safety, and all of the cool things you can do here year-round. We aren’t like other communities in the desert that shut down in the summer. And Indio is still very affordable.”
City Council is Pro-Business
Morgan maintains that business is booming here not only due to the burgeoning market, but because the Indio City Council is very supportive of new enterprise, having endorsed not only the Downtown Specific Plan, the Highway 111 Specific Plan, and the 2040 General Plan, but Measure E, which earmarks a sales tax increase of 1% for infrastructure and public safety.
“We are strategic about the energy and effort we put forth in terms of attracting new companies, getting all of the policy documents in place that are going to help facilitate the investment opportunity of either local investors or developers that would bring certain expertise into our community,” Morgan says, adding land specifically zoned to welcome a large tech or manufacturing company interested in setting up shop within city borders has also been set aside.
Tourism in the City of Festivals
Indio’s powers that be also recognize that world-renowned local attractions such as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Stagecoach: California’s Country Music Festival, and the International Tamale Festival bring in untold millions of visitors each year who pump untold millions of dollars into the local economy. As such, the city recently extended its agreement with Coachella and Stagecoach promoter Goldenvoice — which promises to bring even more programming to both the Empire Polo Club and the Eldorado Polo Club — through 2050.
“Extending that contract secures tax revenue certainty for Indio for decades to come,” says City Manager Bryan Montgomery. “Our residents and businesses reap the benefits of these events, from increased spending to job creation, with none of the money to host the events coming out of Indio’s budget. Continuing the contract also upholds our international distinction as the City of Festivals, which is important now more than ever as the Coachella Valley becomes even more renowned as a tourist destination. The addition of more concerts and events by Goldenvoice will bring year-round benefits to the entire valley, not just Indio.”
More, More, More
Much that is new and interesting in Indio concerns the city’s downtown core. Just a few of the businesses opening there soon include Gabino’s Creperie, Desert Beer Company, and Avenida Music Coffee House. “We’re also investing in a new outdoor stage downtown that’s going to be a year-round venue for music and food where people can gather for our Second Saturday Center Stage events each month,” says Morgan. “There’s a number of other interested parties who want to do more residential and mixed-use development downtown.”
Over in midtown, where Highway 111 meets Monroe Street, the former Indio Fashion Mall has been reborn as the Indio Grand Marketplace, with The Haagen Company slated to completely renovate the space inside and out, adding new eateries and retailers. “The plan is to expand that mall to the south on approximately 19 acres of city-owned property,” promises Morgan. “There’ll be a gathering space and park, over 300 residential units, a 120-key hotel, and various other retailers on that site. Then, just down the street where the old Metro 8 used to be, Regency Theaters is going to completely redo that multiplex.” The new complex will be known as Regency Festival Cinemas, in line with Indio’s reputation as the City of Festivals.
In North Indio — home to such retail palaces as Indio Towne Center, Showcase at Indio, The Palms, and Citrus Plaza — incoming enterprises include a four-story, 122-room WoodSpring Suites as well as new outposts for Raising Cane’s, Texas Roadhouse, Cork & Fork, Luna’s Pizza Bar & Grill, and Keedy’s Fountain & Grill.
“We’re always looking to create opportunity, promote our community, welcome visitors, and make sure they have a pleasant stay here,” adds Morgan. “People are choosing to come to Indio because of all the things happening here, the cool opportunities for dining, entertainment, and just gathering and being with family and friends.”
On top of all that, the I-10 Auto Mall boasts a new KIA dealership and Honda Certified Super Store; healthcare will soon get a boost not only courtesy of JFK Memorial Hospital’s expansion, but from the incoming Acadia Indio Behavioral Hospital and upcoming Indio Medical office facility; and College of the Desert is planning an expansion of its Indio footprint, doubling both its downtown campus to 80,000 square feet and its student population to 9,640.
Yet another major upgrade that excites Morgan is Indio’s recently adopted Fiber Optics Master Plan. “The city wants to take control of its future with respect to creating a connectivity opportunity, not only for our existing residential and business community, but to attract other companies,” he says, adding that high-speed internet can contribute to the creation of a better business park, one that would translate to a diversification of the job market and the addition of higher-paying positions.
Progress for the People
At the end of the day, the next few decades of growth in Indio will be predicated on its people. “We always have top of mind our taxpayers,” says Morgan. “As a resident, you take center stage. As a business owner, you take center stage. We want to re-establish Indio as the hub of the valley, as the place where people gravitate to like they did way back when.” “Indio is shining bright!” concludes Mayor Waymond Fermon. “We’re investing in programs and services that ensure we continue to prosper as a strong and vibrant community, including a new public safety campus, murals and art around town, and renovated roads and buildings. Our goal is to ensure our community is one that residents are excited to call home.”
Total Population – 89,498
Median Age – 33.9
Annual Growth Rate – 0.27%
Average Household Income – 89,128
Median Household Income – 63,198
High School Diploma – 33.70%
Bachelor’s Degree – 12.29%
Graduate / Professional Degree – 6.95%
Healthcare / Social Assistance – 11.58%
Retail Trade – 11.73%
Construction – 10.12%
Education Services – 8.05%
Admin / Support / Waste Management Services – 8.82%
Accommodations / Food Service – 11.38%
Arts / Entertainment / Recreation – 5.86%
Agriculture / Forestry – 2.45%
Manufacturing – 3.38%
Transportation / Warehousing – 3.40%
Finance / Insurance – 2.36%
Real Estate / Rental / Leasing – 3.04%
Professional / Scientific / Tech – 3.18%
The Retail Coach; Esri/Coachella Valley Economic Partnership