Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
During the coming weeks, city and organization leaders will target vacant buildings in Portales as possible locations for new businesses.
A meeting was held Tuesday to discuss economic development and what path the city should take to try to encourage those in the community and outside of the community to open a business in Portales. Councilors also reviewed rules for distributing economic development funds to business prospects.
Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega, Portales City Manager Debi Lee, city councilors, Community Development Director Kim Huffman, and economic development committee members made the decision to become proactive on Tuesday during a workshop.
During the workshop, a projector showed photos of vacant buildings around Portales. Hillary Boerio, public relations director for the City of Portales, said city employees have already started collecting information on the abandoned properties along U.S. Highway 70. Boerio said they are finding out what types of properties they are and who owns them.
“We had discussed contacting each of these property owners to find out if there was any way we can help them clean up their property or if they would be willing to sell it,” Boerio said.
City administrators established a fund through the economic development tax. The tax had generated $479,233 through Friday and there is $248,265 currently available for entrepreneurs. Money has been spent and allocated for the Portales Inn and Holiday Inn Express ventures.
The Holiday Inn Express is currently under construction and is set for completion in November. The previous building, which was torn down, on the same location was termed an “eyesore” by Ortega. He also said the Saga Motel was also an eyesore, before Suzi Webb purchased the property, renovated the building and opened a new children’s clothing store at the location on Ave. D near the Family Dollar store.
The $248,265 can be used to help entrepreneurs pay for start-up expenses on a new business in Portales.
Jerry Partin, chairman of the economic development committee, said the committee members adopted state statutes for the qualifications in receiving money from the funds. Stephen Doerr, city attorney, said one of the snagging points in attracting business is that no retail businesses could apply for economic development funds per the state statute.
“We had to deny retail stores because of the state statute,” Partin said.
Doerr said a qualifying business cannot primarily engage in the selling of goods and products.
The possibility of helping out property owners with knocking down buildings or cleaning up the property is an idea which was kicked around during the workshop.
“One of the biggest obstacles in small business development is trying to find a location and having the amount of money needed in remodeling the buildings,” Ortega said.
Still the decision was made to continue to develop a portfolio of the property owners of vacant lots and once it is put together, economic development committee members will meet to discuss the findings and target properties with the opportunity of development.