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Gila EDA Roundtable hears updates from meeting participants

By Mary Alice Murphy

At the monthly Gila Economic Development Alliance Roundtable, which serves to connect local business owners and to create jobs in the area, attendees gave updates.

Bonnie Zelinko of Workforce Connections said the agency is working on practical insights for employers, such as on-boarding, which is structured teaching of employees.

Mary Stoecker, representing the Southwest New Mexico Energy and Green Jobs Task Force, said an upcoming meeting of the group will have lunch at the Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery in downtown Silver City and then move to Western New Mexico University for the meeting.

Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director, announced funding that is coming to the county. "With the Rio Grant Community Development Department, which is collaborating with us, we will receive $152,000 for incubator kitchens to manufacture food products and create jobs in our rural area. The Colonias Infrastructure Fund Board met June 4 and has made the recommendation to give a bit more than $3 million to various entities in Grant County." For more details see http://www.grantcountybeat.com/index.php/news/news-articles/16354-grant-county-receives

Lucero said she thought the funding would sunset, but learned that it will not and would continue.

Bruce Ashburn of PNM said the company just completed a round of grants, for which applications were well represented in the area. "This funding is through our foundation and is not from operational monies. The next opportunity will be grants for 501c3 non-profits for reducing usage. So, if you're a non-profit, this is an opportunity to get more money for your mission."

Scott Terry, Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce president, said entry forms were available for the parade and for vendors and booths at Gough Park on July 4th. "The parade marshals will be the local Gold Star Mothers. The fireworks, thanks to those who stepped up to sponsor the funding shortfall, will be 55-minutes long and have some large displays."

He said at the Town Council meeting there was a discussion about the proliferation of plastic bags, which are becoming a burden at the landfill.

"If you notice at Walmart, Albertson's and the Food Basket, they have put money into how they dispense the bags," Terry said. "It will be expensive for retailers to change, if plastic bags are outlawed. The original change to plastic was because too many trees were being killed for bags. The Town Council members said they had talked to retailers."

Brent Steinberg, Holiday Inn Express assistant manager, said he thought it would be better for people to pay for plastic bags, if they wanted them.

"If the town raises rates for water, which it is doing, for property tax, which it is doing, and for plastic bags, which it wants to ban, we will all pay for those rising prices," Terry said. "It's just a concern of mine."

Dora Alvarez of the Small Business Development Center said the SBDC had hired Linda Smrkovsky of Deming to work part-time in the Deming SBDC office.

"That is a good business decision," Ashburn said. "She knows everybody down there.

Kim Clark of the Realtors Association said at the end of May 2013, 81 properties had been sold; at the end of May 2014, 81 properties had been sold, but the prices were a bit up. "The largest sale ever in the county was the Buckhorn Ranch, which sold for $7 million. The realtors are feeling frustrated. We haven't climbed out of our little recession. The market is feeling stagnant."

Wearing her rodeo hat, Clark said the attendance this year was about the same, but alcohol consumption was way down.

Teresa Dahl-Bredine Crosley, co-owner with her husband David of the Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery, said they drew no business, even though they had a country band at the downtown location. "I saw police everywhere. We need to promote Corre Cantinas."

Michelle Carrillo, Holiday Inn Express manager, said Corre Caminos buses just took people back to their cars.

Clark said the rodeo maxxed out on contestants, because they could also go to the El Paso and Clovis rodeos around the same dates as the Wild, Wild West Pro Rodeo in Silver City. "The LED scoreboard was a big hit."

Garcia noted that the Little Toad planning an event showed collaboration. "You went out on a limb."

Clark noted that the rodeo partnered with MainStreet and with Jump Into Summer. "We're trying to do outreach. This weekend Saturday and Sunday is a free rodeo—the 4-H rodeo, with kids from 9 years old to seniors in high school.

Silver City MainStreet Project Board President Lucy Whitmarsh said MainStreet would hold a dance at the Old Elks Lodge on June 28. "We know we have dancers around here. When we had the downtown event with the rodeo, we had a fiddling group. For the dance we're looking for folks who like to do the two-step."

Don Trammell of Bridge Community said the group is "catching its breath. October 9 and 10, the Retired Teachers of Silver City will be hosted here. We expect about 150 people."

Clark, wearing her Prospectors' hat, said the incoming president is Terry Anderson. And several interim legislative committees would be visiting Silver City, including the Veterans Affairs Committee, Disabilities Committee, and Water and Natural Resources Committee.

Lucero, as Grant County Community Health Council Chairwoman, announced the Health Council has finished its plan based on results of the 2012 assessment survey. At next Thursday's Grant County Commission meeting, the plan will be presented for approval, as will a group of new members to the council. "We have fact sheets for every community in the county."

She also said the deadline for the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. Community Investment Fund applications is December 1, to get a portion of the $500,000 divided up among local non-profits.

Dahl-Bredine Crosley said the next Virus Theater production, "Ticker, gods and creampuffs," would be presented at the Little Toad Creek Inn and Tavern in the Mimbres next weekend.

The next Gila EDA Roundtable is slated for 8:30 a.m. Friday, July 18, at a venue to be determined.

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