Growth committee looks at data analysis

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

The Local Growth Management Committee got a taste of Chicago-style data analysis Tuesday afternoon.

Marc Doussard of the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Voorhes Center presented committee members with a look at data the center tries to provide as part of its work with the Office of Economic Adjustment.

The OEA works with communities affected by military changes, whether it is a shuttering by the Base Realignment and Closure process or a change of mission that quickly adds population. Cannon Air Force Base, which converted from a fighter wing to a special operations base, is in the latter category.

Doussard said the center, which is the nation’s largest research school for urban planning and public affairs, follows 22 base indicators, including figures that track employment and housing data. The data is searchable by ZIP code for the communities it serves, which have varying degrees of military presence.

“Literally, you all look at the same thing,” Doussard said, “and you can see where your municipality is, and where your concern fits in the bigger picture.”

He showed some information, available to members at www.defensecommunitydata.org, on unemployment rates.

He said Clovis and Portales were tracking with unemployment figures nationwide and statewide, but the numbers are running lower — typical behavior for a community with military presence.

“We take requests, and if there’s something you want tracked, we want to hear about it,” Doussard said.

Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker asked if there was a way to add crime statistics as a layer.

Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said as a Realtor, it’s a discriminatory practice to steer buyers away from available homes based on nearby crime rates. However, Hooker said it’s not unusual to hear from an old friend who wants to move back to eastern New Mexico and wants to know if there are any areas he should avoid.

Portales Community Affairs Coordinator Nicole Thornton said Portales does something along those lines, with submissions to the crimereports.com national database.

Doussard, a visiting research professor at UIC, said the community data site is currently password-protected, but the eventual goal is to have the site and its information wholly available to the public.

“If you use it for non-BRAC purposes, I can’t do anything about that,” Doussard said. “Any good it does you, we view, is a positive outcome.”

In other business at the meeting:

• Regional Growth Management Planner Rick Draker said he has set up an office in the Memorial Building in Portales, and is working on meeting with local hospitals and law enforcement to get a scope of public safety.

• Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said the joint land use study is still being worked on, with a draft likely in September.

He said one key point is the attempt to close Curry Road R, which has been noted for security concerns because of its proximity to the base, base residents and ammunition.

• The next meeting is tentatively set for 9 a.m. Sept. 14 in Portales.