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Gila EDA Roundtable 092013, part 2, updates

The second portion of the Gila Economic Development Alliance meeting consisted of brief reports from those attending the session.

Gila EDA member Arlene Schadel said the alliance was hosting a New Mexico Partnership Board of Directors meeting next week.

Commissioner Ron Hall said the new fair barn would be complete for the fair to take place from Sept. 25-29. "We're also looking at the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan at our next meeting and talking about priorities."


Kim Clark of the Realtors' Association and Prospectors said last Saturday would be (was) a workday at the fairgrounds.

Hurley Mayor Edward Encinas said the town of Hurley had been chosen for a Frontier MainStreet program. "Businesses and Hurley Pride are getting going. We are still looking to get more businesses in."

Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce Director Scott Terry said the lunch meetings were coming back, with the first monthly luncheon planned for Thursday, Oct. 3, at the Red Barn at 11:30 a.m.

"The Cream Peach Boutique will have its ribbon cutting at the Hub on Oct. 4, at 2 p.m.," Terry said. "We will also meet with the New Mexico Municipal League, which is showcasing Silver City."

Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments director, reported the southwest region of New Mexico was chosen as a pilot project for broadband access. "Right now, we're doing assessments and looking at franchise agreements. We have an opportunity to express our needs."

Kim Clark, who lives in Cliff, said: "Such as in Cliff?"

David Thomas, WNM Communications manager, pointed out that his company is working to put fiber optic lines in Cliff. "Any anchor institution can get bandwidth. We are charging what we are by regulations mandated to charge. There is a lot of misinformation about what is available. We're supportive of a public/private partnership. It costs $70,000 a mile to build fiber optic.

"We're learning a lot," Lucero concurred.

Paul Leetmae, Gila EDA member, asked if Lucero could report at the next Roundtable meeting on the project.

"Absolutely," Lucero said.

Sean Ormand of 1st New Mexico Bank said WNM Communications has provided broadband to many outlying areas.

"State school tests are mandated to be taken online next year," Lucero said. "The schools don't have the infrastructure, and they are worried about the costs."

Thomas called the requirement an unfunded mandate by the state to the schools.

"There are associated costs," Lucero said. "The focus needs to be in infrastructure to allow access to the world. But you have to be willing to pay for it."

She said the COG is in the beginning stages of planning public meetings for the statewide economic development plan. The first meetings will potentially be in November, Lucero said.

The deadline for the Community Investment Fund for Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. funding applications for non-profit organizations is Dec. 1.

Lucero also said Santa Clara has been chosen as a Frontier MainStreet project.

Maureen Craig, representing the Mimbres Region Arts Council, passed out the season brochures. "I think we could do even better with more members. I think it's a wonderful organization and a great economic engine."

She announced an art auction to take place at Bear Mountain Lodge to support MRAC with the auction of a Harry Benjamin painting and other items.

Sandy Feutz said the Grant County Art Guild would hold its Purchase Prize reception Tuesday evening at 5:30 at the Pinos Altos Hearst Church Gallery.

"Next month Oct. 11 -13 is the Weekend at the Galleries," Feutz said. "Shop at home and support local artists."

Sammy Silva, owner of Old School Consulting, said he has worked in classrooms at the schools. "They don't have any computers."

Julie Morales, representing Western New Mexico University, said the Small Business Development Center would hold a workshop, "Financing Small Businesses,' on Sept. 25. Western students will hold a clean up day Sept. 28, meeting and ending at Gough Park. October 5 is Homecoming at the university. The first in a Women's Lecture Series is slated to take place Oct. 29 at Western.  She announced the Freeport community partnership Lodestar non-profit training would take place Sept. 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. And there would be an alumni golf tournament to raise money for scholarships.

Commissioner Ron Hall said the tournament netted the university $23,000 last year. "We're shooting for $30,000 this year."

Clark, wearing her Realtor hat, said the quarterly statistics on the numbers of home sales are down, as well as the dollar volume, but the average price of homes sold has increased slightly. "Members say this quarter, it seems like it's moving forward. We are at our lowest membership ever at 61 Realtors."

"I've been to industry meetings, learning how to serve Gen Y," Clark said. "They are not buying homes at as young an age as their parents did. The average age of Realtors is 67.

"With my Prospectors hat, we will hold our Legislative Communications Forum on Dec. 5," Clark continued. "The deadline to turn in applications is Nov. 20. Our Grant County Day at the Legislature will be Wednesday, Jan. 29, with a reception in the evening at a new venue."

Leetmae, manager of Team Ford and Lawley Toyota, said he is teaming with Chino Federal Credit Union on a vehicle sale Oct, 10, 11 and 12.

Terry said he and his wife had made the mistake of waiting to visit downtown until about 11:30 the previous Saturday. "A lot of places closed at 2 p.m. I know it's a complaint that we can't get shops to stay open. We need to rethink about when to be open. Having grown up in the retail world, I know how hard it is to be a small business person."

He also pointed out that there is not a lot of empty space outside of downtown. "It's hard to recruit businesses. I would definitely like to hear ideas from you."

Ormand, who is a member of the New Mexico Partnership, echoed that it was meeting in Silver City this week. The group was created by state statute and the governor appoints the members, he said. "We want businesses here. But we don't have to go to trade shows. The New Mexico Partnership does it for us. We have never had a successful locate here in Grant County. We're off the beaten path, but we have plenty of attributes. I need more customers." Quite a few others among the participants nodded in agreement.

Marti Trammell, representing Bridge Community, "a business in the making," said the group is attempting to build a retirement community in Silver City. "We're losing a minimum of five people a year, and that's just the people we know, who are moving to other areas, because we do not have a continuum of care for them. We have here in the area assisted living, a nursing home and senior housing, but not together, where a couple with different needs could continue to live together. I don't want to leave the area. We want to make Bridge Community affordable for mid-income self-pay people. We're updating our financial and business plans."

She said since the group began it has raised $300,000 in several years, including $100,000 from the Freeport McMoRan Cooper & Gold Inc. Community Investment Fund. "With the help of Freeport's funding, we have purchased 10 acres, but it will be expensive for the infrastructure. "

"We hold early suppers on the third Sunday of the month," Trammell said. "The next event will be an old-fashioned pie auction from 4-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at the Presbyterian Church, a different venue from the suppers. The singing group Jericho will entertain. We seek donations of pies, cakes, candies and cupcakes."

Chelsea Hotchkiss, who was one of the featured speakers at the Roundtable, said: "Bridge Community is huge. We need such a facility."

Schadel said she was previously film liaison, and is acting as one now. "A group just finished filming 'Truth' at Fort Bayard. I was involved as the assistant producer of the full feature film. We need really to hone in on it now, and we need to promote the film industry here. On a side note, Jericho will play at the county fair."

Bruce Ashburn of PNM said when businesses have broken equipment, PNM offers rebates up to 40 percent, but recommends an energy audit beforehand.

Thomas said he is updating his WNM Communications 2014 budget. "We spent $4.5 million in the area, half a million dollars just in Silver City. We are making a commitment to making broadband available throughout the area."

Mike Trujillo of AmBank announced that the local Bank of America branch, among others in the western part of the country, had been sold to Washington Federal.

Craig said she forgot to thank the sponsors of MRAC's Pickamania!

Earl Montoya, Silver City resident, said he was waiting to see the strategic plan that was developed at the Gila EDA retreat.

The next Roundtable will take place at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at a venue to be announced.

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