For the most part, local leaders feel Portales is on track to become a state-certified community for economic development.
The New Mexico Economic Development Department has created the Certified Communities Initiative, a plan intended to help at least 10 cities in the state.
“The state is launching a program to work with New Mexico communities, particularly rural ones, to better quantify and qualify their economic assets, organize their direction and be ready to get what they need when it comes to generating jobs,” said Rick Homans, the state’s economic development secretary, in a press release.
The initiative requires several specific actions for a community to qualify.
“I think the idea of having certified communities is a good idea and whether we can participate is something we really need to talk about,” Portales City Manager Gerald Depo said.
“From my point of view, it’s a good template. It’s a good benchmark for us to try to meet, if not this year, then next year.”
Depo said the main responsibility for economic development lies with Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation.
Kim Huffman, the chairman for the RCCDC, said he discussed the initiative with Homans during his recent stop in Portales. Depo and Huffman said they haven’t had a chance to discuss the initiative at any public meeting yet, but both are confident Portales could be one of the 10 communities selected.
“Basically, we won’t have any trouble qualifying,” Huffman said, “because we were way ahead of time in arranging an economic development process along (the initiative’s) lines.”
Portales has met some of the criteria already, including a gross receipts tax and a local economic development organization. Full details of the plan are available at www.newmexicodevelopment.com.
“The program is specifically designed to help any local community compete more effectively when it comes to attracting or building business in an area,” said Cathy Ann Connelly, the department’s director of communications. “With the money we have, we know we can help 10 communities, but we don’t want to turn down anyone who needs help.”
Connelly said there are three types of businesses — startups, expansions and relocation — and that different communities would be aided by different types of businesses.
Huffman said Portales is mainly in the market for expansions and relocations.
“A start-up would have a hard time building from the ground up,” Huffman said, “but an expansion would be more likely.
Huffman said he would like to see more manufacturing businesses, or a food processing businesses to take advantage of Portales’ agriculture-based economy.