News & Events

Encouraging Economic Development

11 January 2013

Article By: Rosanne Boyette  |  Cibola Beacon

 

CIBOLA COUNTY – Encouraging economic development is a countywide goal.

The Village of Milan, City of Grants, and Cibola County officials shared their 2013 goals at a Dec. 12, 2012, meeting in Grants.

All three entities identified specific items.

“We want to finish what we started,” said Marcella Sandoval, Village of Milan manager. “Completing the work on Uranium Avenue and Motel Drive are our priorities because most of our gross receipts’ revenue comes from the Motel Drive businesses.”

She pointed out that the village had continued its efforts to develop a master plan for its 800-acre industrial park, which is often referred to as “the farm.”

“We can’t complete the master plan until we have complied with the FEMA regulations,” Sandoval explained, “and that’s why we’ve paid for the farm’s floodplain study.”

She recalled an incident from several years ago when Home Depot had considered Cibola County as a potential location.

“We lost out and they put one in Gallup,” said the manager. “We want to be realistic about what types of businesses the village can recruit.”

The City of Grants has three long-term objectives that are directly related infrastructure.

“One of our goals this year is the Second Street project,” said Manager Bob Horacek, “but we want to continue the First Street and Roosevelt Avenue projects. Those three are main arterial streets and are important to businesses and residents.”

Upgrading transportation infrastructure will encourage businesses to consider locating in Grants, according to Horacek.

“And expanding the business base will increase gross receipts’ revenue,” he said.

“But it’s been difficult to attract economic development in rural communities,” he emphasized. “The city is looking for smaller companies that will make a long-term commitment to the area.”

The county has a different goal.

“The commission purchased the La Mesa Mall last year so that we could re-locate the judicial and health departments,” noted Manager Scott Vinson. “This contributes to economic development because it will improve residents’ access to services.”

Economic development requires an integrated approach, according to the county manager.

“Area residents and businesses are directly affected by economic development activities. We realized that we needed more resources,” explained Vinson. “One of our goals is to support the Grants/Cibola County Chamber of Commerce while we continue to promote the Cibola Communities Economic Development Foundation’s efforts.”

Eileen Yarborough, Foundation executive director, said that she is seeking $100,000 from the state for a countywide broadband needs’ assessment.

“I am currently working on two projects,” said Yarborough. “Prospective businesses have repeatedly emphasized that they require broadband Internet access. This is a high priority.”

She described her philosophy and said, “Economic development doesn’t happen overnight. It [requires] the cooperation and collaboration of all the entities – public and private – working together to reach the goal, which is to create jobs by attracting business and industry.”

“We [village, city, county] all contribute to the Foundation’s efforts,” agreed Sandoval, Horacek, and Vinson.

Star Gonzales, Chamber executive director, pointed out, “Our goal is business retention and serving our members’ needs. We are also continuing our ‘shop local’ initiative and will be offering training to hospitality industry employees to create a skilled workforce.”

The hospitality industry is directly tied to tourism, acknowledged Gonzales.

Tourism is an under-used source for economic development, according to many county residents.

A majority of Cibola County is composed of public lands. These hundreds of thousands of acres attract people from around the world because of their natural beauty, according to National Park Service officials.

“There were 134,600 visitors to El Malpais National Monument in 2010, which resulted in a little less than $5 million in total visitor spending,” reported Kayci Cook Collins, who serves as supervisor for both the El Morro and El Malpais National monuments.

“This visitor spending supported 79 jobs and had an additional spending impact of $3 million. These numbers don’t include the economic benefit of visits to the national conservation area or to the nearby Cibola National Forest.”

Several annual events highlight the county’s natural environment including the upcoming 30th Quad next month and the first Mount Taylor 50K Race, which was held last September.

Tourism is a potential source of economic development agreed several area officials.

But many people believe that retail and manufacturing businesses will be the best way to provide area residents with employment opportunities.

“The village is interested in retail and manufacturing businesses,” commented Sandoval. “One that creates a few jobs may be better for all of us. We’re not turning anyone away but ‘big’ may not last.”

Editor’s Note: Visit www.cibolaedc.com for more information on the Foundation.


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