Reports from participants continued at the Gila Economic Development Alliance monthly Roundtable meeting to get organizations together to find out what each one is doing and how they can work together.

Sammy Silva of the Department of Workforce Connections said his office provides training to the unemployed. "We use WorkKeys as an assessment tool to find the best fit. We finished OSHA training and are trying to bring in solar training. We also work with Western. Recently, we hosted a job fair for the Tractor Supply Company and Allied Barton."

He cited as a problem the long wait in New Mexico for background checks. He knows of one man who has been waiting four months to get his background check returned.

Jeremiah Garcia, Gila Economic Development Alliance president, suggested an entrepreneur develop a business on background checks.

"As the parent of a senior in high school, should I encourage my son to get a skilled certificate or go to college, so he can come back here for a job," Kim Clark, Association Executive and Government Affairs Director of Silver City Regional Association of REALTORS®, Inc., asked.

Silva said journeyman electricians could always find a job.

Kurt Albershardt, Murray Hotel owner, said there is a local shortage of trained plumbers and electricians, as certification is "a relic of the 1940s' unions. The bottom line is if a person gets to the point of a journeyman electrician, he can start at $20 an hour and will soon be to $30 an hour."

Silva gave the example of his son, who is a journeyman electrician, working in Phoenix at a job with tuition credits. "He will end up as an electrical engineer."

"Also mechanics are in high demand, especially diesel mechanics," Silva said.

Earl Montoya, Silver City resident, suggested a youth forum similar to the Roundtable.

Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments Director Priscilla Lucero said the vo-tech school committee is planning such an event.

Albershardt pointed out many of the jobs that need to be filled locally have technological requirements.

Lucy Whitmarsh, Silver City Project MainStreet president, announced Big Ditch Day, this Saturday, July 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. "We have the only Big Ditch, and we need to promote the underutilized resource and celebrate it." With a grant and, in conjunction with the Silver City Museum, MainStreet will be installing signage describing how the Big Ditch came to be.

Steve Townley of the MainStreet Board handed out a list of incentives that businesses and organizations could use to further their goals.

Lucero announced several awards in the region, including $1.1 million in Colonias funding for several area water systems and for Western Regional Housing. In addition, Colonias Initiative Reversion funding of $250,000 was awarded to Silver City for the Vistas de Plata housing project.

Community Development Block Grant funding went to the city of Bayard for street paving and to the town of Silver City for water system improvements.

U.S. Department of Agriculture funding was awarded to Rosedale Road for $1.4 million and $750,000 to Lake Roberts.

"We had a request from the Economic Development Department for the COGs to develop a comprehensive economic development strategy," Lucero said. "With $89,000 we have to match, the Southwest COG is taking the lead. We will tap into the economic development coordinators to implement the plan."

Julie Morales spoke on behalf of Prospectors and said Mike McMillan has been elected the new president of the organization. The Interim Legislative Committee on Veterans Affairs will meet in Silver City on Tuesday, Aug. 21, in the Grant County Business and Conference Center Fort Bayard Room.

Clark reported that the housing market "feels better, with Realtors being busier." She said the price point of houses that are selling is down, and for those costing more than $250,000 there is a three-year inventory. Although the price and selling cost of houses is down, the ratio of listed to sold is now at 92.07 percent, unlike last year, when it was 87.66 percent listed to sold price.

She also announced the 4-H rodeo with students from ages 9-18, with about 80 contestants from around the state. The events will take place beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Southwest Horseman's Arena.

Morales said the university is wrapping up its second student orientation, with more than 100 students and parents at each orientation.

Western New Mexico University held a Town Social in Lordsburg last week, Next Friday, one will be held in Deming, and on Saturday, July 28, one will be held in Gough Park at 7 p.m., and one in Hurley tentatively on Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 5:30 p.m. at the gazebo.

Tiffany Knauf, Grant County Community Health Council coordinator, reported that 2,800 assessment surveys had been received, but the goal is at least 5,000, if not more. She asked anyone who has not filled one out to go to www.gcchc.org, click on survey and take it online.

She announced the Red Hot Children's Fiesta would take place Saturday, Sept. 15, at Old James stadium, along with four other events that day, including the first WNMU home football game, the Farm2Chef challenge, and a mariachi concert at WNMU that evening. The Farm2Chef will have cookbooks available of recipes using only local products.

The health council puts out three resource directories – seniors, cancer and general. The general one is going to print and will soon be available.

Healthy Kids, Health Community is doing a bus from the Mining District to the Silver City Farmers' Market each Saturday, beginning in August.

Julie Minicucci, Silver City Arts and Culture District coordinator, said Mimbres Region Arts Council would bring back Pickamania! from Sept. 7-9.

"The Arts and Culture District received $100,000 from the town of Silver City lodgers' tax for marketing and promotions," Minicucci said.

She said she wanted to talk to Richard Peterson, who had been the featured speaker, about business retention, but he had stepped out of the room, and she had to leave for a meeting, taking place in her office.

"We're the first contacts for visitors, who may be considering relocating," she explained

Eileen Sullivan, Silver City Public Library director, said the summer reading program brought in more than 300 children who took part in the reading competition, another 45 who are not yet readers, and a teen program for a total of about 400 participants. The event featured 14 programs, including crafts, performances and readings.

"Our big news is that we are moving ahead with the renovation of the library," Sullivan said. "Rich Bigelow has been awarded the contract, which will be to fix roof leaks, upgrade the electrical and HVAC, as well as installing better wireless capabilities, and addressing aesthetics, such as carpeting and painting.

"We plan to stay open as much as possible during the work," Sullivan said. "We are setting up a blog site, where notices will be posted about any closures that are necessary."

Bruce Ashburn, Small Business Development Center director, said his office helped create four new businesses and 32 jobs in the past year, with a capital formation of more than $1 million. "We have provided direct counseling hours and 10 training events bringing in about 120 people."

The next workshop on Sept. 26 will bring in IRS officials. The training is designed to help non-profits stay exempt. Continuing education credits will be available for lawyers and accountants.

Lynda Aiman-Smith, founder of the Local Investment Network, said a meeting on Thursday had been well attended, with lots of good questions. "We are setting up an email group to plan angel investing as peer-to-peer."

The next Roundtable is scheduled for 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24, venue to be determined.

Live from Silver City

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Editor's Note

The Grant County Beat continues to bring you new columnists. New this past week are the Christian Corner, for those who are already Christians or are exploring the beliefs.

The second is a business-centered column—Your Business Connection by the New Mexico Business Coalition. The group works to make policy in the state of New Mexico better for all businesses, large and small.

The Beat has a new column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

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