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Local economic development group to invest directly in area business; Attracting visitors to Roswell’s downtown topic during annual meeting

Keynote speaker Sherman McCorkle tells people attending the Wednesday annual membership meeting of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. that implementing the group's strategic goals regarding the air center, downtown investment or other initiatives requires collaboration in spite of differences and persistence in spite of obstacles. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. has earmarked $40,000 to help grow area business, John Mulcahy, president of the group, said at the Wednesday annual membership meeting.

“That’s not a small amount of money for a small organization like this,” he said, “but we want to form a committee of membership and directors and say, what do we want to do and where do we want to help local business, because they need that.”
Mulcahy reviewed the organization’s top initiatives with about 60 people who attended the meeting, which included the election of new officers and board members. The meeting occurred at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art.
Another initiative Mulcahy discussed is the allocation of $20,000 for downtown development.
“We are not giving (visitors) an experience downtown that is robust enough,” he said, referring to the fact that close to 200,000 people visit the International UFO Museum and Research Library each year but do not tend to spend a lot of time or money downtown. “We are getting close, but I think the EDC has to continue to move in that direction to help that.”
Other goals include development of commercial sites around the city, enhancing membership involvement, developing high-tech marketing techniques and pushing the continued development of the Roswell International Air Center.
The economic development group will take steps to implement something recommended by a recently completed economic feasibility study as well as a1988 study, the creation of an independent port authority to manage the air center.
Mulcahy said a non-political authority is necessary to attract investors.
“We have an opportunity to enact an authority that was recommended not only today but also 20 years ago,” he said. “There’s your Mike Singletary, the air center. It has been out there for 60 years, and it is really time to take advantage of what everyone I have ever talked to knows, it is an incredible economic asset.”
The reference to Singletary recalled comments made by the keynote speaker for the event, Sandia Science and Technology Park Development Corp. Chairman Sherman McCorkle, a recognized business executive in the state.
McCorkle told the group that former pro football player Mike Singletary and the people behind the Guadalajara global industrial park were two models of success for developing prosperity.
Singletary demonstrated the power of a dream and of persistence. Now a football coach and once a member of the Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bear team, he was diagnosed with anemia as a youth and told that he might die and definitely would never have the stamina to play sports. In a life history that has been recounted in published accounts, Singletary worked his way up from high school team manager to benched player to college player to pro player by practicing and working out alone, after hours, to build strength and skills.
McCorkle then spoke of how business leaders in Guadalajara avoided a common trap that causes many people or organizations to fail in the final step of prosperity development: Implementation. Using an analogy, McCorkle said that some organizations say they want a cat that can catch a mouse, but then they focus on the size, shape, look or other factors of the cat rather than on its mouse-hunting skills.
“In Guadalajara, they were able to complete all five (prosperity development) steps and they did build their global industrial park. When I was there, they also had a charter school so that the workers brought their kids with them and the kids went to school at the industrial park. … They worked together. They became the thought leaders, the attitude leaders and the doers.”
He said that model contrasted greatly with the economic problems in the Soviet Union, which he was asked to visit after its dissolution to see what economic opportunities might exist.
“They had no history of people helping each other, and there was no culture of community. There was no community barn-raising. It was impossible to envision an investment-friendly community,” McCorkle said.
Mulcahy said that, in the year ahead, the economic development group will use not only the plan for the air center, but also the comprehensive plans that have been or are being developed for the city and the former municipal airport property on the northwest side of the city.
“Strategy is done,” he said. “It is time to implement.”
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.