By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Portales and Clovis city officials hope the re-designation of the two cities as a microplex will continue to bring in businesses and housing developments, and help spur population growth to the area.
Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega and Clovis Mayor David Lansford shook hands Thursday and signed an agreement defining the two cities as a microplex for the next four years.
“It’s redefining our communities,” Lansford said. “It’s a progressive, modernizing community. People aren’t attracted to an area until they believe there is a return on their investment. The whole microplex effort helps to show that and we have results.”
Ortega said the two cities entered their first agreement four years ago after encouragement from U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. Ortega said that Bingaman advised city officials that they could combine the population of the two cities and designate the area as the Clovis/Portales microplex. In so doing, they could reach a 50,000-population plateau, according to Debi Lee, Portales city manager.
“Some of the retail businesses have looked at the population (of the two cities combined) and decided it was a profitable venture,” Lansford said. “We have had results. Chili’s (Restaurant), the cheese plant, Lowe’s and Applebee’s have looked at it. The cheese plant looked at our numbers for employment of workers.”
Applebee’s and Chili’s restaurants have opened in Clovis within the last two years along with Lowe’s Home Center. Southwest Cheese, a cheese processing plant, opened late last year. The plant was constructed on the Roosevelt-Curry county line and employs more than 200 people.
Joe Thomas, Clovis city manager, said it is important to bring industry to the area that would be a good fit.
One example of good fit, officials note, is Southwest Cheese’s plant. In a previous Clovis News Journal story, Gene Hendrick, president of the New Mexico Rural Development Council, said the plant produces about 400,000 gallons of water a day more than it consumes.
“We’re always interested in any type of businesses ideal for our situation because of our water shortage,” Thomas said. “Certain businesses are very beneficial to the area because they don’t use a lot of water.”
The Clovis/Portales cities were designated a microplex in 2002 by the Office of Management and Budget of the Executive Office of the President of the United States.
Portales city councilors and Clovis city commissioners signed the agreement between the two cities at Portales City Hall chambers.