City officials eager for certification

Tony Parra

With an eye toward economic growth, Portales city officials say their first step is to gain certification from the New Mexico State Department of Economic Development.
Mayor Orlando Ortega and city council member Jake Lopez are concerned over Portales’ failure to become certified by the NMSDED in late July.
“I believe that you have to do more than just talk,” Ortega said. “We’ve had a hotel developer come in about three months ago. I want us to be certified the next time we apply in the certification process.”
Out of 15 communities, Portales and one other community did not meet NMSDED requirements this summer.
“There are six mandatory requirements that the community must meet and they did not meet all six,” said Donnie Quintana, team leader of the community development team of the NMSDED.
Portales met one of the six requirements by establishing a local economic development organization.
But Portales did not have a retention program for businesses; a two-year community business plan; a land and building inventory; a local economic development act; or a community profile for the department, which consists of education and unemployment labor.
Ortega has established 10 points for economic growth; he said he stresses one of the points in particular — market the community to target audiences. For example, the city council is actively pursuing a new hotel in town.
Ortega said gaining certification from the NMSDED will allow Portales to be added to a state Web site created to attract business to cities and counties in New Mexico.
Portales will apply again in the next certification process, Ortega said. The next certification process may occur in January, Quintana said.
“Companies will call to the NMSDED and find out information on the communities and which ones are the best to suit their needs,” Ortega said.
An economic development forum, which took place on Thursday in Portales, helped incorporate ideas into the city’s future, Ortega said, but the final decision on economic progess rests on the city council.
“As a group we have gone on retreats and discussed these topics,” Ortega said. “We have had the citizens input at the town hall meetings and we invited 120 members to a breakfast to discuss economic development.”
Ortega spoke at the economic development forum about the 10 points of economic development, which have been discussed in city council meetings and five town hall meetings this year. He said he would like for the community to grow.
“It’s time we do that,” Ortega said. “We need to expand and have more businesses come to this area.”
Roosevelt County’s population has grown 900 people from 1990 to 2000 according to the U.S. Census. Ortega said he would like the population to grow by 30 percent, which would mean an additional 2,700 people by 2010.