Editor's Note: This is the first of three articles on the Gila Economic Development Alliance Roundtable held Jan. 17 and will cover the first featured speaker.

(Photo of Scott Terry courtesy of Sandy Feutz)

The Gila Economic Development Alliance Roundtable on Jan. 17 featured two speakers—Scott Terry, Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce executive director and Trent Petty, Silver School Board president.

"We're all about the members and their businesses," Terry said. "We are trying to bring in more businesses, but we're about promoting whether it is a new or existing business."

He said the chamber also actively promotes tourism. "We include all of the county in what we do."

Since September, he said the chamber has sent out many tourism and relocation packets. He showed a tri-fold table board with all the items sent in the packets.

"Not all goes into the tourism packets, but everything goes into the relocation packets," Terry said. "People get on the chamber site and on the tourism site and request packets. I want to make sure people get the information they need.

"We don't receive lodgers' tax funding, so we are doing the mailing with membership fees," Terry explained. "We've already sent out 46 packets just in January. Most are relocation packets."

He said it doesn't matter why anyone wants to move here, but "once they get here we do the sales job. If it's a tourist, they spend money, go home and we did good. If they come back, it's even better. It's real economic development."

He read an email from a woman who lives in Las Cruces, saying she would like to move back to Grant County, but there's nothing to do. "It's something we hear quite often. We have lots of things to do, but maybe we don't.  We're working on quality of life. You will go to Deming to see a movie, eat dinner and buy gas, because it's cheaper there."

"We're hemorrhaging dollars," Terry said. "We're going to try to do something about all those things. We know we have to be partners with the county and city and with all of you here. It's not just about the chamber members, it's about our community."

He said he would love for people to talk to him about ideas of what can be done.

"I go to the Freeport-McMoRan (Cooper & Gold Inc.) public meetings," Terry said. "They are always working on what will happen when copper prices go south. We need to grow the university and find things to attract students. Dr. (Joseph) Shepard (Western New Mexico University president) has great ideas to grow the university. If it happens it makes the community better.

"And what about Fort Bayard being for sale?" Terry asked. "Having that history here is an asset. We have to get involved with that. We'd hate to lose the historical aspect of our county.

"I'm proud of our chamber," he continued. "Why aren't you a member? I have applications with me. We're all about bringing in new money."

Gordon West, owner of four businesses and president of the Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, asked what legislative actions the chamber is promoting.

"I have a meeting with other chambers in the state coming up," Terry said. "We will bring back ideas. I know we need to talk about water issues."

West said he met with the New Mexico MainStreet Program and the Arts and Cultural District folks in Santa Fe. "Silver City is high profile in both. We also have issues with Gila Regional Medical Center and its sole community provider funding, which is hugely important. We in the Green Chamber are promoting the reinstatement of renewable energy subsidies."

Terry agreed that across the state there were many issues to consider and be involved in.

Earl Montoya, self-proclaimed community watchdog, asked Terry if he were aware of what's going on at Western. "Janet Wallet-Ortiz said that the president took the faculty in a meeting and that the faculty better support him or the state might take over Western."

Kathie Gilbert and Julie Morales, who both, as university employees, were at the aforementioned meeting with Shepard, said that was not true and they had not heard anything like that.

Jeremiah Garcia, Gila EDA member and moderator of the meeting, said perhaps Shepard should be invited to talk about the issues at the university. "We want the opportunity for a representative of the group to talk about the issues."

Terry said he sends out a weekly email newsletter and will send it to anyone who is interested, whether a member of the chamber or not.

"I talked with George (Julian Dworin, Silver City Arts and Cultural District manager) about our community calendar that we will have when our new website is up, Terry said. "We will have, for chamber members, the opportunity to post job openings, too, as well as Hot Deals for chamber members."

Tiffany Knauf, Grant County Community Health Council coordinator, said the newsletter does not go through the GRMC firewall, because of the use of Constant Contact, and asked how those at GRMC could receive it. Terry said he would look into it.

"We need a strong chamber," Dworin said. "All of us are in the business of tourism. We all have to share what we love here with tourists, so they come back."

He said the ACD has developed a program: "101 Things to Do in Silver City. You might want to stay an extra day."

"We're also working with the Health Council on 101 Things to Do for Kids as part of a drug prevention program," Dworin said. "We are promoting what is, not just what isn't."

Terry said the chamber needs more rack cards to send out. "We want to make sure we really promote the community."

Dworin said he has been talking to Terry and the green chamber. "The more all of us can work together on the rack cards, the better. We are also working with the university."

In conclusion, Terry introduced the board members present at the meeting and said: "We have a really good board."

The next article will cover Petty's talk and the third article will address the brief presentations by participants at the meeting.

Live from Silver City

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