City feels conference’s economic impact

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

Jim Clark didn’t notice too many new customers in the two Clovis restaurants he owns, but he just needed to see Clovis’ streets to know the impact of the New Mexico Municipal League.

“I’ve seen the buses just running around all over town,” said Clark, who owns Dakota Steakhouse and Golden Corral. “I know it’s helped bring in a lot of people in.”

Clark was speaking of the league’s annual conference, hosted this year at the Clovis Civic Center and Clovis Community College.

The league closed up shop on the conference Friday morning, bringing an end to business for approximately 700 municipal employees throughout the state.

League Communications Coordinator Roger Makin stresses the economic footprint the conference leaves on a city. He couldn’t give a concrete estimate, but said he would guess some dignitaries spend as much as $600 to $700 during their stay.

“(Participants) like to go out and eat,” Makin said. “I’m sure the restaurants here did fairly well since we’ve been here. I’m sure Wal-Mart and Walgreens have had more people. It’s across the board.”

Clark said he noticed a few more customers at his restaurants, but said acquaintances at the chain restaurants, which include full bars, saw big returns. Golden Corral does not sell alcoholic beverages, and Dakota Steakhouse serves beer and wine only.

The buses Clark saw were provided by Whirlwind Tours of Clovis, which had eight buses constantly shuttled between the Civic Center, the college and hotels throughout Clovis.

Most customers only need a few buses, co-owner Kathy Adair said, so the league’s needs were a boon for Whirlwind.

“Well, any business is valuable, definitely,” said Adair, who has co-owned the bus company for 12 years. “This was very nice. We met some very nice people. It made the city look wonderful and they did a great job with the entertainment.”

And what dignitaries couldn’t find in Clovis, they went to Portales. City Manager Debi Lee said she talked to some conference participants who limited their conference trip to one day because hotels were completely booked in Clovis and Portales.

The people who did stay the full time made an impact during a time Clark admits isn’t fun for restaurant owners.

“August is pretty much a slow month for us because of the back to school (season),” Clark said. “The younger kids are in school so the parents are buying supplies and clothes. The older kids have tuition and books.”