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Connect New Mexico visit about more than target practice

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Operations Manager Daniel Fontanez watches two New Mexico Leadership Connect members as they aim at some “terrorists” and targets in a village MISTIC has built on its site on the Roswell Air Center. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The young New Mexico professionals were taking great glee in shooting blanks at targets, evading car attacks and watching sandbags blow up.

An unexpected “explosion” starts a tour of MISTIC facilities Thursday for the Connect New Mexico group. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

But there was a serious point to the Thursday tour of the MISTIC facility in Roswell by Connect New Mexico, a program of Leadership New Mexico for professionals in the state 25 to 40 years of age. Juanita Jennings, city of Roswell public affairs director; and Eric Ehler, Pioneer Bank vice president, were two Roswell members of the group.

The visit to the Roswell campus of Matrix International Security Training and Intelligence Center Inc. was included as part of the group’s three-and-a-half-day professional development training in Roswell to introduce them to an unexpected sector of the area’s economy.

Mark Fischer, the local director of MISTIC, explained to the group that he wanted them to see that his company is much more than a good tenant for the Roswell Air Center.

By training security agencies, military units and law enforcement from across the globe, the company is bringing in millions to the state and local economies, he said. It is also providing 10 full-time jobs and numerous contract positions at what he said is at least two times the current minimum wage.

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“It’s about the jobs,” he said. “It’s about the $4 million to $5 million a year.”

Patty Komko, president of Leadership New Mexico, said MISTIC is one of the places visited because it is an unusual business and one that many program participants would not be able to visit on their own.

The group also will visit a dairy, an aircraft painting business, a major local bank and the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico during their session here. The other sessions are held in Los Alamos and Las Cruces.

Komko said that Connect New Mexico, which has three short sessions, has been holding its professional development in Roswell for about 11 years. The Leadership New Mexico organization also has a “core” 10-month session for professionals of all ages and a program geared specifically for local government leaders.