By Tony Parra
Tourists will not need to drift off the course from now on in order get information about Roosevelt County.
Roosevelt County Chamber officials held a grand opening for the new Business Welcome Center Wednesday afternoon at the new building, located on the town square.
The welcome center contains the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce, Department of Labor, Roosevelt County Career Center and Youth Opportunities. It is located across from the Roosevelt County Courthouse and across from the Tower Twin on Ave. A.
Roosevelt County chamber, DOL and Youth Opportunity employees previously worked out of the Memorial Building which is located off of 7th and Abilene.
There are two floors to the new building. Roosevelt County chamber officials’ offices are located in the front and DOL and career center officials are located in the back part of the building.
“The best thing about the new building is the one-stop career development center,” Community Development Corporation director Kim Huffman said. “Employers can come in the front door and get what they need.”
Huffman said, for example, if a hotel company is looking for 10 people who need to know how to use a certain software, qualified candidates can be trained in the new welcome center.
“The front part of the building is for taking care of businesses here and bringing in new business to town,” Huffman said. “The back part is for training people and having qualified workers for employers.”
The Youth Opportunities offices are located in the basement along with a classroom and computer lab.
Chase Gentry, former Community Development Corporation director and current Clovis Industrial Development Corporation executive director, said the new Business Welcome Center has been a longtime project.
Gentry said he worked as a CDC director until June 30, 2002. He was working in 1999 when the idea to have the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce in a different location came about.
“We were looking at options for a better location to serve the public,” Gentry said. “We wanted to combine the resources to better accommodate economic development and tourism. We couldn’t have been able to get the $800,000 grant without the help of Donita Massey-Privett and Janine Elder.”
Gentry said the new building was built because many entities helped in the project, such as The Hubert Foundation of Ruidoso, Portales lodger’s tax committee, Stuart Ingle, Earlene Roberts, the Eastern Plains Council of Government and Roosevelt County officials.
“Kim (Huffman) has done a phenomenal job in taking over the project,” Gentry said. “Kim had to come in and make it work. Dallan Sanders’ vision, his belief, made us believe we can make things happen. He helped us believe in ourselves.”
BWC officials hosted a reception for Dennis Edwards, community banking president of the Portales Wells Fargo branch, who will be retiring. Edwards said his last day will be on Wednesday.
Edwards said he will be retreating to the mountains of Angel Fire, hopefully by September. According to Edwards, he’s been in the banking business for 38 years. Edwards said he wants to sell real estate part-time.
“I’m excited,” Edwards said about the move. “We’re going to miss the nice community. I believe you sow and nurture what you reap and in this community it’s many more times what you sew. We’ll be back and forth. We have too many friends here.”
Edwards won the Workhorse of the Year Award at the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce banquet in late November. He was also the Chairman of the Roosevelt County Ag Expo and a member of the Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation board of directors.