By Mary Alice Murphy
At the Friday, May 16, 2014, Gila Economic Development Alliance monthly Roundtable, organizations, which had representatives present, had reports.
The first was from Arlene Schadel of the Gila EDA. "We are in negotiations and planning with other entities and organizations for collaboration."
Hurley Mayor Ed Encinas, who said he was also representing the Mining District, reported he recently attended an economic development seminar in Washington D.C. "There were people there from mostly the eastern part of the U.S. and some from Canada. They didn't know about the Mining District."
"There were a lot of workshops on rural communities, which they considered 10,000, 20,000 population and up," Encinas said. "I said: 'We're 1,600.'"
He said it would have been nice to have Western New Mexico University represented at the seminar, because the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State were there.
Encinas said he also recently attended, along with the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments, an event put on by the Southeast Arizona COG, which was all about collaboration.
"Our community is the smallest, poorest and has no water of its own in the Mining District," Encinas said. "I've been talking to Kevin Cook and Tom Head of Freeport-McMoRan about possibilities for the town. We have a bar, a restaurant, an art gallery and Mr. Stevens has a wholesale operation, but that's about it. Our income is water rates. For street repairs we need a match. We will put in a couple of new signs: You Are Coming into Mining Country."
He said he had a meeting with Senator Martin Heinrich, and told him we were pushing for collaboration with other communities and with Southeast Arizona.
Archi Padilla of Relay for Life put on her Hurley hat. "We have a handful of volunteers with Hurley Pride. And we have a 30-foot by 50-foot new animal shelter that is almost done with volunteer time and money, including $1,000 from Freeport."
"Hurley Pride does amazing things," Encinas said. "The kennel is awesome, and we will have a grand opening."
Miguel Vicens of the Western business department said Friday was WNMU graduation day. "We will have a new marketing degree starting in the fall. This summer we have a class on entrepreneurship to help people find ways to build a new business."
Earl Montoya, Silver City community watchdog, said he had been told the swimming pool drawings were no longer valid. Chelsea Hotchkiss of Insurance First said WNMU President Joseph Shepard had addressed the issue at a recent Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Steven Walker, WNMU marketing professor, said the programs the university is developing are engaging with the community. "We strongly encourage internships. Both Miguel and I bought houses in the community. We are offering multi-cultural marketing classes and social media. We want to do this in collaboration with the community. We are developing niche programs that will draw people from the outside. We want any input you can give us. My wife said Silver City is the best-kept secret and is the Santa Fe of the south. We will help promote the town and want to be active members of the community."
Lee Gruber, who was one of the Roundtable featured speakers, said she travels a great deal, and "every time I'm in a large metropolitan area, I think: 'There must be lots of people who are entrepreneurs who want to get out of there and start a business.' How do we get them here?"
During the portion Gila EDA vice chairman Sean Ormand called Grant County Business Partners, he said it was an opportunity for those attending to talk about their businesses.
"I'll start," Orman said. "I'm a community banker, and I love dealing with customers. We need to find ways to overlap the circles of the different entities. We have to help ourselves and we appreciate the support of local communities. We're rural, so we need our senators and congressmen to help remove the barriers that government has put in our way. I'm pleased that my two sons came back to Grant County to work."
Dan Cook, Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce board president, announced a ribbon cutting to take place that morning at 10:30 at Gowns, Gifts-n-More.
L.J. Lundy, Realtor, said she had encouraging news from the real estate section. "We had not had any sales over $500,000 in five or six years. In the past couple of months, we've had four."
Christine Logan, New Mexico Economic Development Department, area representative said members of the New Mexico Partnership were at an unmanned aerial vehicle conference pushing the Grant County Airport as a venue for developing the vehicles.
She said the Spaceport has done a gap analysis for businesses, tourists or those testing something that has to do with the Spaceport. "They want to identify companies that can meet the needs of what researches need, what visitors need. Virgin Galactic is bringing in 70 people. "
"The department will also hold a program one day a month in June, July and August on how to export," Logan said. "Tuition is $900, but if you're manufacturing something, this will teach you how to export, with the legal and financial information necessary. We have some scholarships available.
"How to get entrepreneurs from all over the world requires adequate Internet," Logan said. "It's a big issue for New Mexico and we're working on it. You need good Internet, because you can ship anywhere in the world from here."
Ormand said he could be in Truth or Consequences in 1 ½ hours, so a lot of things involving the Spaceport could benefit Grant County. "We have to make sure we are welcoming."
Encinas said the county has an airport and rail. "Our airport is one of the largest in the area. If we add a taxiway, we could land 737s."
Lynda Airman-Smith reported on behalf of the Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber. "We have been holding events on sense of place. If people come from the Spaceport they will come for our sense of place. One idea we came up with it to put in devices with apps for sense of place."
She said she wanted to work with the Western marketing department on practicums. She also said the Green Chamber was working on workshops with the state solar industry, which "can save you money. We are working actively on local independently owned businesses."
Bonnie Zelinko of Workforce Connections said the agency has an opportunity to hire a student aide at $10 an hour from June 9-August 29. "Call 538-3737 to get an application, which needs to be returned by next week, May 23. The applicants will go through the WorkKeys assessment and will have Workforce Investment Act training, which is now being provided by a private company, HELPNM. It is out of our office, but privatized."
Cynthia Martinez, Small Business Development Center director, said at the end of May, the SBDC would be holding a defensive driving workshop, which would reduce insurance costs. "We'll also have a First Aid course, and in July the Basic Economic Development Course, and in August a course on how to register to do business with or be a vendor for the federal government. We're doing what we can to help small businesses."
Cerise Grijalva of the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments reported that Emily Gojkovich has been working on the statewide economic development plan and PNM grants for Hurley, Santa Clara and Bayard. A small business forum will be held in Lordsburg and Gojkovich is wrapping up the last portion of the Certified Communities Initiative. "We are also helping communities with colonias applications."
Schadel asked about the statistical abstract, which has not been updated on the COG website since 2011. Grijalva said the office has copies and Gojkovich would soon upload the 2013 statistics, which had just been received by the office.
Gruber, representing Mimbres Region Arts Council, said Faye McCalmont was busy with the Blues Festival, "which is always fabulous."
This reporter represented the Grant County Community Health Council with a short report on the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition's new 101 Things for Youth to do in Grant County. The paper would be handed out to all students from age 12 -20 at the end of school. The activities involve some self-monitored activities, as well as ones where the youths go into businesses and do something to receive a stamp. The form will also allow free use of Corre Caminos bus service.
She also reported on the Fort Bayard Restoration and Development Coalition, which is waiting until the state decides what it will do with old Fort Bayard, as it is trying to sell it. "Five entities from Grant County sent up expressions of interest to the state, but none were accepted."
Ormand thanked the Beat for its faithfulness in attending and reporting on the Roundtable meetings.
George Julian Dworin, Silver City Arts and Cultural District and Tourism coordinator, said: "The secret of Silver City is out and is yielding interest from the press. We have had a Canadian press writer, a Texas writer, a pet-friendly writer and a writer from here. Silver City has been featured at Smithsonian.com, in Travel & Leisure, as well as Trailrunner magazine, which recognized the area as being among the top trails. We continue to be seen in True West and Sunset magazines."
"The July New Mexico Magazine's front cover is by Jay Hemphill," Dworin said. "We will see more Silver City there. For tourism from the Spaceport, we will host Virgin Galactic July 11, which will host a hospitability training course, as well as intercultural communication. Each space traveler wlll have an entourage of up to 50 members to watch the travelers launch into space.
Paul Leetmae, Gila EDA member, asked Cook if he had any more information on the chamber's upcoming training. Cook looked at his phone and said the Passion for Service training by a former Zig Ziglar trainer would be held June 4, from 8:30 to noon at the Fort Bayard Room of the Grant County Business and Conference Center.
Lucy Whitmarsh of Silver City MainStreet Project said the group is partnering with the upcoming rodeo to offer at the Farmers' Market on May 31 a program on reinforcing the area's ranching heritage.
Ormand noted the rodeo beings June 4.
"I do not believe in serendipity," Earl Montoya, Silver City resident, said. "There is not a single Hispanic poet or musician as part of the rodeo. The vaqueros brought saddles and horses here before any cowboy showed up."
Whitmarsh asked for contacts. Montoya said to start with the Charros de Hurley. "Why don't we talk about our real history?"
"I went to the school board meeting," Montoya continued. "We have a crisis in Silver City schools. Our kids are not getting the education they need. Can we in good conscience bring in people to the area with our deplorable school district?"
Ormand said one of the key building blocks for economic development is an educated workforce. "We share a lot of ideas here, but we have not had sharing from the schools. Western is always here, but not the others."