The Southwest New Mexico Economic Development Partnership met in Silver City Wednesday, Jan. 9, in the morning. The group, which is comprised of representatives from Catron, Grant, Hidalgo, and Luna counties grew out of the Stronger Economies Together program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development paid for the SET training taught by Michael Patrick of New Mexico State University.
Linda Smrkovsky, Deming-Luna County Economic Development executive director, serves as chairwoman of the group. She pointed out that the group needs "more inviting meetings to bring in other people. We were supposed to have Kristine Shoberg of Udder Delight in Glenwood to speak to us this month, but she was ill. We have her slated for next month."
Jerry Welch of the Southwest New Mexico Regional Housing Authority and Development, which is overseeing the grant received to set up a revolving loan fund, said SET members would direct the loan fund as the Loan Committee.
"We can loan out to small entrepreneurs," Welch said.
Patrick asked if the group would be saying: "yes to this loan, no to that one and would be responsible for collecting delinquent loans?"
When Welch replied: "Yes," Patrick said: "Good luck."
Smrkovsky said Loan Committee members would consist of bankers and accountants who would be qualified to manage such loans, but the Housing Authority would cut the checks.
Anthony Gutierrez, Grant County planner, asked for a structure for the committee that the SET members could look at. He also pointed out that the grant money is available, but not all the match money has been collected. "We don't have any information to tell people."
"Right now the Authority is too busy with weatherization, but we will work to have the structure and information at the next meeting," Welch said.
Patrick suggested that two or three SET members interface with Welch.
Smrkovsky said the revolving loan fund would be available to residents of the four counties. "We will work with entities to help them qualify. Most will be low to moderate income, who are starting or growing a business, but are using their credit card, because they can't get a bank loan."
Linda McArthur of the Silver City Small Business Development Center said the SBDC could get involved and "we can also help with formulating business plans."
"We need to get after it and show success," Gutierrez said, "so we can do other things, too."
Patrick asked if there were a timeline to get matches in the bank. Welch replied that the Authority has a year to get it up and running.
Smrkovsky said the USDA has a model for revolving loan funds.
Patrick then did some training on planning for business success. His first question was to ask for the difference between a business idea and a business opportunity. The opportunity meets a demand for something consumers need. A successful business idea is one that meets a consumer need and returns a profit to the business. "Would-be entrepreneurs must be able to identify customers and the market for the product or service."
The three driving forces for a successful new business are opportunity, the entrepreneurial/manager/management team, and resources.
He said resources would flow to a bonafide business opportunity. Patrick gave out a business plan outline, which is needed to access resources. "I think the target market is the most important part. If you don't get the market right, the financials won't work, so do market research first."
Patrick outlined the steps for making a business legal and presented a business plan for the members to read and critique.
He switched gears and talked about a model that helps determine what is needed in a community for recruitment of outside businesses to the area. They include the community goals and priorities; the community assets that will help achieve the goals and priorities; industry needs and factors that are important for locating their operations into a community; and businesses that are consistent with the community goals and assets.
"My idea was that SET could use this model, but we have to gather all the needed information from the four counties," Patrick said.
Discussion ensued on which counties had the information and which needed to develop the information. The rest of the meeting was discussion among members on how to determine and reach the region's goals.
The next meeting of the Partnership/SET will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Deming Conference Center, 119 E. Pine Street, Deming.