Chamber Corner

Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce President Scott Terry will provide a weekly column to the Beat, featuring items and announcements of interest to the community.

The February meeting of the Grant County Commissioners has moved its scheduled meeting from the Grant County Administration Building to the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business & Conference Center.  The conference center is located at 3031 Highway 180 East in Silver City. The meeting is still scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday – February 21 (tomorrow).

If you plan to attend, please be courteous and mindful that Ace Hardware needs to have parking spaces for their customers.  Please do not park directly in front of Ace Hardware.

The Tour of the Gila is gearing up for another exciting year of bike races. State Senator Gabe Ramos and Lt. Governor Howie Morales are asking for you help. They are going to introduce an item for the Appropriations Bill to give some funding to help the Tour of the Gila event. Please call Senator Ramos and Lt. Gov. Morales to tell them Thank You for sponsoring the funding bill.

As president of the Silver City Grant County Chamber of Commerce, I don’t mind people calling me names. Honestly, it’s sometimes like a badge of honor. And in the instance, as president of the local Chamber of Commerce, I am very pleased with the company I am keeping. When you do this kind of work, you get used to remarks and name calling. It’s really not that big a deal. When I lived in Ruston, Louisiana, we were working with the Mayor and business leaders to change the alcohol laws to allow for liquor by the drink with a meal on Sundays. The night the City Council voted, and went along with our changes, a really nice lady that I had known since my childhood days came up to me after the meeting and told me she now knew why God had given me cancer. I simply smiled and told her that my wish was that one of these days she would become the fine upstanding Christian lady that she thought she was. I turned and walked away.

chino mine displayPictured are Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce Board Members William Knuttinen and Jack Herndon (Courtesy Photo)As many of you are aware, the observation area above the Chino Mine has been closed for some time now.  Freeport-McMoRan had to close it due to safety issues with the new haul road that runs directly beside the old observation area. We’re proud that the company is concerned about the safety of not only their workers, but also the public. However, people really enjoyed the overlook so your Chamber of Commerce worked with Freeport-McMoRan to come up with a pretty nice alternative. In one of the lobbies of the Grant County Conference Center, there stands an 8 ft. x 10 ft. display with a beautiful picture of the Chino Mine pit. The picture was taken and donated from a drone by Roth Drone Service, LLC. in Silver City. You can stand in front of it and have a picture taken or take a selfie in front of the picture of the pit.

We received word late Tuesday afternoon, that Governor Lujan Grisham has signed Senate Bill 106 - legislation eliminating Exemption G of the State’s Lodgers’ Tax Statute. With the expanding popularity of private vacation rental websites like Airbnb and VRBO, Exemption G had effectively created a tax loop-hole that allowed many property owners to avoid collecting and paying Lodgers’ Tax on revenue generated by the short-term rental of these properties. The law will go into effect July 1, 2019.

We have ribbon cuttings coming up soon:

Whether you have business interests or personal interests, being proactive regarding government legislation is imperative for your future. Most of us can’t afford to hire a lobbyist to take out concerns to the town council, county commissioners, or the state legislature. Regarding local government bodies, it is usually pretty easy to contact a member of the Town Council or to speak to a County Commissioner, and if the cause is really important, we can usually make a local town council or county commissioner’s meeting. However, that isn’t always true when it comes to the state legislature. It’s expensive to make the trips to Santa Fe. It takes a huge amount of time for travel and time for meeting with key legislators. Luckily, we have a great group of people in Grant County that can help in regards to dealing with elected politicians in Santa Fe. They are the Grant County Prospectors.

Prior to the beginning of the annual legislature, The Prospectors meet with different business executives, groups, government entities and individuals. The meeting allows those individuals a chance to plead their case as to why their legislative interest should become a part of the annual Prospectors Legislative Agenda. This local group has a great reputation with state lawmakers…so the Prospectors Agenda definitely carries some weight. We say thank you to the Grant County Prospectors for being proactive to important local issues that will come before the state legislature.

This is a legislative session that is full of concerns for many people in Grant County.

  • Minimum Wages
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • HB 123/ HB 126 and HB 165 – Expansion of LEDA and JTIP funding
  • SB 35 – funding targeted for a campaign to support retirement to New Mexico
  • HB 91 – establishing a high-quality career technical education pilot program
  • HB 183 - Creation of a registered apprenticeship program for high schools for graduation.
  • Various bills that will change gun ownership and seem to infringe on Second Amendment rights.
  • A senate bill that will be introduced soon to establish higher tax incentives for film production in rural parts of the state.
  • Across the board pay increases for all people working in our state’s school districts.
  • Legislation pushing for increased costs to mining operations across the state.
  • Increase in fuel tax
  • Increase in personal tax

This is the time of year that the pilgrimages to Santa Fe begin. Every town and city, every county, all types of government agencies have their hands out trying to get what they believe is their fair share of the State’s money. It’s not a great system that we have in New Mexico, but it is the system…so you either play or you lose.

That said, there are many issues that come up each year during the legislative session. No doubt there are some really hot potatoes this year. Gun Control changes, changes to abortion laws, environmental issues, sanctuary state, maybe recreational marijuana and definitely increasing the minimum wage law…these will be “hot button” issues that will probably stir emotions as much as debate.

Minimum Wage: I’m always amazed to hear state politicians howling at the moon that our people can never move forward if we don’t raise the state’s minimum wage. The sad thing is that some of these politicians have never owned or managed a regular small business…they have always been in the political industry.  Well we shouldn’t bow down to these folks. We should work with them to educate them on what their decisions mean to real New Mexico. Literally, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t have a discussion about New Mexico’s minimum wage with a local business owner/manager. These folks are worried. They are frightened. They have invested their life savings into a small business and they are terribly uncertain of the future. They understand that they can probably make their business still work with a bump from $7.50 to $8.50. However, if state politicians vote to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour or $12.00 an hour immediately with provisions to go higher maybe in a year or two…frankly, it scares the hell out of them. If you are a small business owner or manager and you haven’t started working on a plan of how you are going to make your business work with these higher expenses…well you need to begin now. One restaurant owner stated he was told there was a bill that would end tip employees and everyone would fall under the same minimum wage law. He explained how if his dishwasher got an increase, then the waitresses would want more…and the cooks would want more…and the ripple effect would kill his ability to have menu items priced at a rate that make his customers happy. It would be the beginning of the end.

Managing the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business & Conference Center really helps me understand the importance of having events here, rather than sending people to other cities to attend similar conferences. We recently held a conference of the Arizona and New Mexico Range Management Society. We had guests from all over New Mexico and Arizona visiting Grant County, staying in our hotels, and eating at local restaurants. Later this week we will have the Episcopal Diocese of New Mexico making a site visit of the Conference Center to plan for a state-wide convention in Silver City. And in April, we will host the New Mexico Historical Society state meeting. Then, in February, Oni Ken Karate will host a large karate tournament at the Conference Center. The good thing about these events…they are bringing people to Silver City.

In March, the Chamber of Commerce will host Glenn Shepard Seminars to hold a Human Resource seminar in Grant County for HR Specialists and business owners and managers. We already have people from other towns registering for this event. And we also have people from right here in Grant County registering for the seminar. The great thing for HR managers and specialist is that this seminar that will be held on March 18, 2019 is approved for 3.25 (General) recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute and SHRM. This is pretty cool for people needing the recertification credits. The other cool thing is that the seminar is only going to cost $129 for Chamber Members and $149 for non-members. There is no overnight travel for people in Grant County, because the seminar is right here. There are no mileage costs, because the seminar is right here. There are no extra meal expenses for folks from our area, because the seminar is taking place here. This is a win-win event. How can you learn more about the Glenn Shepard Seminar? Visit our Chamber of Commerce website page here. Go to the calendar of events, the month of March and click on March 18.  You can learn more about Glenn Shepard here. Glenn’s seminars are great for HR Specialists, business owners, business managers, or any one who needs training in dealing with people (customers and fellow employees).

Yesterday, I found a pack of John Wayne DVD movies on my desk when I returned from the Post Office and visiting some of our Chamber members. When I called the nice lady, who left the movies along with a note, she asked if I found the “bribe” she had left. I most certainly did, and I said yes to her request. Yep, I’m pretty easy and pretty cheap. The price tag on the pack of John Wayne movies was marked $9.99. Not bad for 25 movies and an exclusive documentary about the American West of movie director John Ford. But I’m not always that cheap and easy.

For us here at the Chamber of Commerce and the Grant County Business and Conference Center, this is sort of our down time. It slows down a little after Christmas and the New Year holiday, giving us a short window to recharge our batteries. Unlike a lot of people who get holidays off, who slow down during the summer and they can take vacations…well those are our busy times of the year. If we want July 4 off, we will need to quit or be fired. However, for those of you who get to relax during the winter holidays, we hope you were able to recharge your batteries enough to make special things happen all the way until Memorial Day, or maybe the spring break for students.

Now that we have regrouped and we are feeling a little feisty again, what’s happening at the Chamber of Commerce.  Well, we have a great lunch meeting scheduled for Thursday – January 10. Our speaker will be Joanie Griffin, the founder and owner of the Albuquerque company that will be planning and implementing the tourism advertising campaign for Silver City and Grant County.

On Friday – January 11 from 4 to 6 p.m., we will help with a ribbon cutting and open house for the Grant County Art Guild’s open house at their new gallery. The new gallery is located in the old Hester House building at 316 North Bullard Street in downtown Silver City.

Businesses always want the next year to be better than the past one. It doesn’t matter if you are selling Toyotas, tacos, term life insurance or even newspapers…you want the next year to be a greater success. So how do you do it?

If you are a restaurant, you might change up your menu. If you have served the same food for the past five years, people may begin taking your menu for granted. Shake it up a little bit. Drop some of the menu items that you rarely serve and add some new exciting items to your menu.

Business should also think about the market. Is your business open when people want to shop with you? Honestly, if I were in the food service industry, I would probably be open on Mondays since so many other restaurants are closed on that day. It’s not about convenience for me as the business…it’s about making money. You hate to see employees working on holidays, but I’ll bet you Walgreen’s does excellent sales on those days when everyone else is closed.

Check out your budgeting for the year. Does your business spend any money on advertising? A single small ad in the paper or an ad once a week on the radio doesn’t give you any return on your marketing investment unless it is a piece of magical advertising. If you want people to shop, dine or invest with you…you have to let those potential clients and customers know you are here.

Live from Silver City

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