By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Members of the Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation board say the pieces of a economic development plan are falling in place quickly now and the re-launch of the organization could be complete in a few weeks.
The biggest piece of the puzzle is an economic development recruiter, who they say will be tasked with spurring growth in Roosevelt County. Interviews for that new position are taking place this week in Portales, according to board members.
“We have three candidates who have absolutely outstanding credentials on paper,” said Randy Knudson, chairman of the board’s recruiter search committee. “They’re al certified economic development recruiters with extensive experience with other municipalities.”
Knudson said two of those candidates are being interviewed this week and the committee will decide after those interviews are complete, whether or not to invite the third candidate for an on-set interview. Knudson said all three candidates live out of state.
“Portales’ biggest problem is a lack of workforce and housing,” Knudson said. “There’s a quality of life issue we really need to work on.”
Knudson said larger employers like DairiConcepts, Abengoa and Southwest Canners have indicated that they have problems filling positions because of the lack of amenities such as shopping, restaurants and night clubs. He said even the county’s largest employer,
Eastern New Mexico University, is experiencing faculty and staff recruitment problems for the same reasons — so much so that many faculty choose to live in Clovis.
To that end, a list of evaluation criteria outlines retention and expansion of existing business and strengthening of economic ties with ENMU as a major component of the recruiter’s job — 20 percent, according to the document.
The recruiter will also be tasked with working with other area officials on the Cannon Air Force Base mission transition. The evaluation criteria document also necessitates contact with officials at Hurlburt Air Force Base to learn more about quality of life needs for relocating Air Force families.
The RCCDC currently has eight board members, with board slots being assigned with each $15,000 annual contribution to the corporation. The city approved an additional citizen-filled slot earlier this week, bringing the group’s fund-raising total to $140,000 so far. A minimum of $120,000 was needed to hire the recruiter and fund his/her work. Knudson says he would like to see the RCCDC have at least $200,000 in its treasury because of the travel that will be required.
“This $15,000 is an investment,” Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. told councilors Tuesday as they approved the additional money from the Economic Development Initiative fund. “I can see some great things happening for the community, but it’s going to take all of us working on it.”
City of Portales — ($60,000) Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr., Councilor Robert de Los Santos, David Hunton, Danny Woodward
Roosevelt County — ($30,000) Commissioner Gene Creighton, County Attorney Randy Knudson
Eastern New Mexico University — ($15,000) David Hemley
Other private contributors — ($20,000) Board President Jerry Partin will likely represent this group