No applicants for economic development position

Alisa Boswell

Former Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation Director Greg Fisher’s job has remain unfilled because no on has applied for the position, according to RCCDC Chairman Randy Knudson.

“There have been some ads that have gone out on some free state advertising pages on economic development websites,” Knudson said. The position opened up when Director Greg Fisher resigned effective Feb. 15 to accept a similar job in Alamogordo.

Knudson said he has had calls from people inquiring about the position. But no one has pursued it with resumes or other paperwork.

“The whole profession of economic development has gotten so much more specialized in the last 15 years,” Knudson said. “They’ve created a license for people to become a certified economic developer.”

Knudson said board members want the new director to be certified in economic development. He said the most important element in hiring a new director is not just that they understand economic development, but understand the Roosevelt County economy and how to develop it.

“You need to find someone who has expertise in attracting industry and has experience in workforce development, business and economic development planning, real-estate and finance,” Knudson said. “You need someone who can talk to corporations and businesses and give them assistance in terms of developing their business.”

Knudson said the position pays $50,000 to $70,000 a year with negotiable benefits. He said money for the director’s salary and community development projects are donated by the city, county, Eastern New Mexico University and various private businesses and industries.

Part of the city’s Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) tax dollars go towards funding the RCCDC. Knudson said the funds are only allowed to be used for certain types community development projects.

He said with Portales having the unique economy of being a small town with some big industries, a new director needs to have an understanding of how to develop new business and industry in the local communities while also taking care of the current industries.

“We have a lot of things that we need. Our water situation is critical, so I don’t think we can lose focus on that,” Knudson said. “We need to remember that’s our most important goal but, day to day, what our board focuses on is quality of life in the local communities. We need an entertainment center. The more difficult thing to do is to bring more larger industries into the community.”

Knudson said although bringing in new industry is an important part of what the corporation does, there are many other necessary things on a smaller scale that the director does, such as helping industries with utilities.

“For example, there’s a sewer line that is going into Hampton Farms and Western Dairy Transport and Greg Fisher and the LEDA funding has helped in that,” Knudson said. “You need to know something about the planning and the zoning involved in that. You need to have somebody who has a broad spectrum of knowledge on how somebody and their business can fit into the community and be funded. Funding is an important thing.”

Knudson said the RCCDC Board includes county, city and ENMU officials since all three donate a majority of the corporation’s funds as part of their annual budget.

Mayor Sharon King, a board member, said she believes Portales has a very diverse economy and she hopes a new director will be knowledgeable in how to cater to such an economy.

“It would be nice to have someone who has a real dedication to the community,” King said. “For a small town, we have such a mixture and have certain resources other small towns don’t have. It is important someone understand that mixed economy. I think it’s also important to have director who knows how to foster relationships that can prosper on their own later on.”