By Gary Mitchell
State Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans said going to places like Portales and listening to people’s concerns and ideas make up one of the more pleasant aspects of his job as a cabinet secretary under Gov. Bill Richardson.
“The most pleasurable part of my job is getting on the road and making things happen,” Homans said. “There’s a strong feeling in the governor’s office that we need to pay more attention to rural New Mexico. These areas need an economic stimulus, and it won’t happen by staying in Santa Fe.”
Portales City Manager Gerald Depo said the secretary’s visit Wednesday to Portales was appreciated by civic and community leaders.
“We’ve got somebody of his stature from the Department of Economic Development to come here to Portales,” Depo said. “To me, that’s a very important department in the state, and it’s extremely important to have the secretary of that department here — just to give people the opportunity to ask questions. He was very aware of the issues and concerns we have here in Portales.”
Homans also made stops in Clovis and at Cannon Air Force Base on Wednesday.
One of the topics Homans addressed concerned the water issue in the area.
“The water issue is a workable issue if approached as a regional issue,” he said. “If each community is dealing with it separately, it will be much more difficult to solve. We need to work together without diluting the competitive spirit. That helps to reinforce the character of each community.”
Key issues Homans said he wanted to stress with local business leaders and elected officials involved economic incentives.
“I want to share with them the new tools we now have for creating new jobs, and the Invest in New Mexico initiative,” he said. “We have new recruitment tools and new ways to invest our capital in New Mexico — and we have new tax incentives for businesses.”
Homans emphasized it was important for state officials to listen to the concerns of area residents.
“Most important, we want to hear from people what their priorities and their plans are,” he said. “The governor takes his lead from the community. A big part of our job is to listen and to support the communities.”
Depo said Homans stressed the need for state officials to work from the same page and toward a common goal as well as for communities to work together for the common good.
“It’s important for the people and organizations in Portales to work together,” he said. “It was quite an upbeat meeting. He seemed to have an understanding of many of the issues here.”