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Roswell-Chaves County EDC chooses new president

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Espiritu was once head of Otero County, Alamogordo economic development

Michael Espiritu of Alamogordo plans to assume his new post Oct. 1. (Submitted Photo)

An experienced economic developer and former U.S. Air Force chief master sergeant has been chosen to head the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp.

Michael Espiritu of Alamogordo plans to begin his new position Oct. 1.

“What interested me in the job in Roswell is my passion for helping communities develop additional economic opportunity and growth for the citizens who live there,” he said. “My previous experience — over 10 years in economic development in southeastern New Mexico — built my interest in the profession and taught me how important it is for people to be involved to enhance the economic vitality of their region. I applied for the job because I felt I would be able to do that for Roswell and Chaves County.”

In his new role, Espiritu will be the chief developer and recruiter for industrial and commercial businesses in the Chaves County region and will run a North Main Street office that includes a full-time project manager, Tawnie Honey. The organization is funded primarily by the city of Roswell, Chaves County and dues from its members, which number about 132.

Its former president of five years, John Mulcahy, announced his resignation in May, which became effective June 1.

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Espiritu praised the efforts of Honey, Mulcahy and his predecessor and said he looks forward to building on their work.

Espiritu was chosen from a field of about 20 applicants. A member of the selection committee said that two candidates were interviewed by the group, which included county, city and business representatives.

“I think Mike is going to do a great job for the city of Roswell, Chaves County and southeastern New Mexico, and the citizens,” said Will Cavin, chair of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners and a selection committee member. “Hopefully he will hit the ground running and get some things going for the economy here in Chaves County and the city of Roswell.”

Since February 2018, Espiritu has been the assistant site manager and supervisor with the multinational engineering firm AECOM, one of the contractors working with about 400 employees at Holloman Air Force Base on maintaining the fighter jets used to train Air Force pilots.

From November 2007 to January 2018, he was the president and chief executive officer of the Otero Economic Development Council. Around the same time, from November 2007 to October 2017, he served as the president and chief executive officer of the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce. He has written that his accomplishments in those roles included recruiting and siting 34 companies that created hundreds of jobs in the area.

From 1974 to 2001, he was enlisted with the U.S. Air Force, first arriving at Holloman in 1990. He achieved the highest rank for enlisted personnel, command chief master sergeant, with supervisory responsibility for about 5,000 active-duty enlisted people at Holloman.

He then worked for six years at Alamogordo High School, establishing and teaching its first Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

He holds an associate’s degree in logistics management from the Community College of the Air Force and has received continuing education from numerous universities and professional organizations and academies. He is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organizational Management, the U.S. Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer Academy and Leadership New Mexico.

He also has received many honors, including selection in 2016 as a leadership fellow in the Industrial Asset Management Council and two awards from the New Mexico Industrial Developer Executives Association, the 2015 Dallan Sanders Award for Statewide Economic Developer and the 2016 New Mexico First Award. He also was appointed by then-Gov. Susana Martinez to the board of directors of the statewide economic development group known as the New Mexico Partnership.

He said that his goals for the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. include to “advance the exposure of our community to the world as an area and a place to do business, specifically in the aviation arena;” to create new jobs; to enhance and improve the tax base; to strengthen the collaborative relationships among people, businesses and organizations to assist businesses who come here; and to join with others in efforts to boost career and technical education, especially for those students who do not intend to go to college upon graduation.

“I am looking to further that, how we can get our young people in public schools in Roswell and Chaves County lined up so that they have a direction of where else they can go besides college,” he said, “and also working with our Eastern New Mexico (University) campus in furthering programs, so people can fill the needs and skills for tomorrow.”

A former colleague of his at the Otero Economic Development Council said she looks forward to collaborate with him in his new role.

“My Espiritu was a very valuable member of our organization for over 10 years,” said Laurie Anderson, interim executive director. “Primarily, we would just like to congratulate him on his appointment and wish him all the success.”

Espiritu is married to Karen, a civilian employee at Holloman. They have two grown sons, a fire battalion chief in Las Cruces and a certified cardio-pulmonary therapist in Alamogordo.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.